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The 10: Buffalo Soup-Fest, Penguin Run, Groundhog Day

1) Buffalo Soup-Fest, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 28 in Buffalo Niagara Convention Center (153 Franklin St.). Tickets are $5, available at the door, and soups are between $2-3 apiece.

Commentary: The annual slurping spectacular returns to the convention center, inviting 30 restaurants to offer two to three soups apiece. Attendees can peer at the various booths, select their soups of choice for $1 per soup buck.

Joe's Deli, Fat Bob's, Lomo Lomo, RnR BBQ, The Lenox Grill and Danny's were among the 2017 category winners. Take a look back at the Smiles galleries from 2017 and 2016.

Beer and liquor will be available, too, since it's Buffalo. Stay tuned for "10 soups to try at Soup-Fest," coming on Friday.


2) Penguin Run 5K & 1-mile Fun Waddle, registration at 9 a.m., race at 11 a.m. Jan. 28 at Classics V (2425 Niagara Falls Boulevard, Amherst). The cost to run is $30 here for the run, $10 for the Waddle and $15 for the waddle plus the post-party, while admission to the post-party is $10 for any non-runner.

Commentary: Don't be shocked if you encounter a host of athletic penguins around the Niagara Falls Boulevard area in Amherst, as the annual Penguin Run stiff-arms the cold, doesn't shy away from costumes and raises money for Cradle Beach. Plus, there's an inherent toughness in running a timed race during the dead of winter.

All participants receive a Penguin Run T-shirt, and the post-race party is a lively affair where it's easy to warm up.


3) Buffalo Groundhog Day, noon to 7 p.m. Jan. 27 in Flying Bison Brewing Company (840 Seneca St.). Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door.

Commentary: The fifth annual Groundhog Day, which takes the traditional festivities from Punxsutawney, Pa., and kicks them up a notch, with a live groundhog - the offspring of longtime mascot Buffalo Mack (but really hailing from Hawk Creek Wildlife Center) - delivering the 2018 prognostication of winter's duration. The furry beast's name will be determined Saturday, too. Our guess is Lionel.

Tickets include three drinks at either Flying Bison or Buffalo Distilling, as well as a $5 food voucher to one of the on-site food trucks. Read more, via Scott Scanlon, about the event, then look back at the 2017 Smiles gallery.

Larkinville Ice Fest includes a Buffalo twist on Groundhog Day


4) Larkinville Ice Festival, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 27 in Larkin Square and surrounding businesses. There is no cost to attend.

Commentary: Larkinville's annual winter celebration has expanded once again, with new neighborhood businesses Buffalo Distilling, Birds Nest and Swan Street Diner joining the fray.

A sledding hill, "Snowga," horse-drawn wagon rides, a regal ice throne, the presence of the Thistle Creek alpacas (whom we swear now live in Larkinville), kids activities, a Bavarian winter beer garden and the nearby Buffalo Groundhog Day celebration are among the highlights. Find all of the details at Larkin's website.


5) Niagara Wine & Beer Tasting, 5 to 9 p.m. Jan. 27 in Kenan Center (433 Locust St., Lockport). Tickets are $30 general admission or $50 for VIP passes. Cost rises to $40 at the door, if space is still available.

Commentary: Roll to Lockport's versatile Kenan Center for the Wine & Beer Tasting Festival, which features more than 30 wineries, breweries and restaurants. Sweet & Savory Treats, Pressure Drop Brewing and Hilltop Restaurant are the newcomers to the fest; see the full list of participants here.

Each ticket includes a souvenir tasting glass, a journal to record your findings and $5 toward the food vendors. A basket raffle, 50-50 split, live music from the Observers and a photo booth round out the entertainment.


6) Soul Patch, 8 p.m. Jan. 27 in Buffalo Iron Works (49 Illinois St.). Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door.

Commentary: The local '90s alt-rock cover band is consistent in its rousing sets, as Every Time I Die members Keith Buckley and Stephen Micciche commit some of their free time embracing this side project.

News contributor Mac McGuire led off his "3 can't-miss shows" piece with this Iron Works show; see what other gigs he featured, below.

3 can't-miss shows: Soul Patch, Diet Cig, Burlesque 5


7) Explore Buffalo Winter Gala, 7 to 10 p.m. Jan. 27 in Hotel @ the Lafayette (391 Washington St.). Tickets are $75 for general admission or $95 for VIP.

Commentary: Explore Buffalo, which hosts local events based on interesting sites - both new and old - in the area, has increased its annual attendance by nearly three times since 2014.

The admission cost includes two drink tickets and hors d'oeuvres, while a silent auction, raffles and a chance to vote on 2018 summer tours will also be offered.


8) Disney on Ice presents "Frozen," 7 p.m. Jan. 25 and 26, 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Jan. 27 and noon and 4 p.m. Jan. 28 in KeyBank Center. Tickets start at $15 and may be purchased here.

Commentary: Rumor has it that Olaf is particularly excited for the Buffalo stop for "Frozen," mostly due to the appropriate climate and the sterling options of chicken wings. Snowmen love chicken wings.

The rendition of the popular kids movie will be akin to a Broadway musical on skates, the New York Times reported, which makes plenty of sense.


9) Wine & Chocolate Festival, two sessions: 2 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. on Jan. 27 in the Adam's Mark Hotel (120 Church St.). Cost is $30 in advance or $35 at the door.

Commentary: There are few combinations more decadent than wine and chocolate, the two foci of Saturday's two sessions in the Adam's Mark. A special "candy bar" - a customizable bar featuring several different candies, not a single treat found in a grocery store checkout line - will be popular.

Find a full list of participating wineries and vendors here. All attendees receive a commemorative wine glass, too.


10) Orchard Park Winterfest, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 28 in Chestnut Ridge Park (6121 Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park). Free to attend.

Commentary: While this event has historically found itself on a warmer-than-usual weekend, Sunday promises to be slightly below freezing, which means there's a good chance the Winterfest runs as planned.

Sledding, snow sculpting, marshmallow roasting, a compelling monster mural and more will be featured in the spacious winter wonderland in Orchard Park.


BONUS: Mermaid Day, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 27 in Aquarium of Niagara (701 Whirlpool St., Niagara Falls). Cost is $13 for adults and $9 for children.

Commentary: The mermaids from Circus Siren Pod will be on hand for a special display at the Aquarium of Niagara. The family-focused event may allow you to take advantage of the fact you haven't told your kids that mermaids are fictional. See the colorful fins of these mythical-if-graceful creatures in action on Saturday.


BONUS 2: Buffalo/NYS Golden Gloves, doors open at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 28 in Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). General tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, with ringside priced at $35 in advance, $40 at the door.

Commentary: A new season of the amateur boxing competition will spice up RiverWorks on Sunday, when the New York State Golden Gloves hosts its preliminary rounds.

Rising fighters - some veterans, some relative newcomers to the ring - will eagerly square off in the age-old contest of endurance, strength, technique and toughness. Go here to see results of past fights, as well as the winners from the 2017 classes. The finals are scheduled for May 6 in the same venue.


BONUS 3: Chaka Khan, 8 p.m. Jan. 27 in Seneca Niagara Event Center (310 4th St., Niagara Falls). Tickets begin at $45 and may be purchased here, although it looks like remaining tickets begin at $65.

Commentary: Khan has been a household name for more than four decades, collecting a ridiculous 10 Grammy awards and producing 22 albums - which include elements of R&B, rock, pop, gospel and more - over that span.


*Note: Step Out Buffalo's Whiskey Fest, Entercom's Mac Attack and the Botanical Gardens' Lumagination launch party have all sold out.


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