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Your guide to Buffalo's best Thanksgiving weekend activities

For one weekend a year, Buffalonians (both current residents and expats) go out to drink in swarms on a Wednesday and run five miles the next morning. Then, celebrate with family over a turkey dinner. And later, adorn themselves in spandex and lycra for a modern-day disco.

Expats home for Thanksgiving weekend are in for a weekend full of music, sports, shopping and even running, with ritualistic events such as the Turkey Trot and World's Largest Disco drawing former Buffalonians out of their turkey-induced comas.

Orchard Park native Emily Saeli lives in Seattle. While Saeli prefers to loosely use the term "running," she's joining her family — possibly even wearing matching turkey hats — to "run" the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.

“We wanted to do something as a family," Saeli said. 

Saeli admits she's not a runner, but the Turkey Trot is the family-friendly race where non-runners get roped into joining with the rest of their family. For Saeli, her mom convinced her siblings to run it.

"I’m motivated in a particularly unique way because my family will make fun of me regardless of whether or not I run it fast or slow," Saeli said. "Which seems unique to this particular race because of the number of family members who run it with each other."

Wednesday through Sunday, the city is packed with activities, each with the heightened chance of running into your ex-boyfriend or elementary school best friend. Here's a look:


Buffalo Sabres vs. Philadelphia Flyers

KeyBank Center, 1 Seymour H Knox III Plaza

Nothing beats seeing a Buffalo team play at home surrounded by blue-and-gold-wearing fans in the stands. The Sabres are playing the Philadelphia Flyers, otherwise known as Gritty's team. Unfortunately, the mascot-turned-social-media-star doesn't travel with the team.

The Sabres face off against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday. (Harry Scull Jr./News file photo)

Before the game, walk over to sports bar 716 for a drink and an appetizer and to be in the company of even more fellow sports fans and dozens of televisions. Or, check out a new spot like the Labatt Brew House.

Biggest bar-hopping night of the year

If there's one thing Buffalo does well, it's going out. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is traditionally the biggest bar-hopping night of the year. Since bars are open until 4 a.m., you can hop between many.

You could go to Chippewa Street, for the busy club scene, or Allen Street for the more casually dressed but equally crowded scene, or Elmwood Avenue, which, aside from bars, is home to a local favorite greasy late night food spot, Elmwood Taco & Subs. Don't let the city limits confine you, suburbs such as Williamsville and Hamburg boast vibrant nightlife cultures.

If you're looking to spend as little money as possible, but still party until the sun is nearly up, consider one of these neighborhood dives.

A bartender mixes up a drink called "The Butcher" at Forty Thieves on Elmwood Avenue. (Mark Mulville/News file photo)


Turkey Trot

The Turkey Trot is a time-honored Thanksgiving tradition for fit families and for non-running family members to get roped into a 4.97-mile race. It's also an annual tradition for tweets like this one to resurface, from the less-enthused counter-culture. Runners of the annual race that takes over Delaware Avenue raise money for the local YMCA. Here's a guide on how to convince your family to join you. Just don't count on their wearing the turkey hat.

[Related: If you're eating out for Thanksgiving, here are some Western New York restaurants serving dinner]


Buffalo Sabres vs. Montreal Canadiens

Didn't get a chance to go to Wednesday night's hockey game? There's another one Friday. (However, Gritty's team isn't playing.)


Small Business Saturday

Rain or shine, Small Business Saturday is a chance to show your local business owners some love. Preparing for weeks, even months, the boutiques anticipate droves of people, as a sort of local economy-stimulating version of Black Friday.

This will be the last Small Business Saturday you'll spend at Fern and Arrow, a modern home and accessory store on Elmwood Avenue that opened in 2015. One owner is leaving retail and the other is pouring her energy into her other Elmwood shop, Anna Grace.

For pockets of small businesses, stop by Elmwood Avenue and Hertel Avenue; Main Street in Williamsville and East Aurora; plus pockets of shopping in Hamburg, Clarence and Orchard Park, which all boast shopping strips rife with locally owned businesses. Outside of Erie County, Medina and Lewiston also offer local shopping, including items your neighbor might not have.

Local consignment store Second Chic has carefully curated items and a boutique-like feel. (Michael P. Majewski)

Makers and Shakers Market

Hotel Lafayette, 391 Washington St. and the Admiral Room, 237 Main St.

Your typical craft market probably doesn't have a Bloody Mary bar. Meet Step Out Buffalo's Makers and Shakers, a "boozy" artisan market featuring a Bloody Mary bar, signature cocktails scattered throughout artisanal vendors selling on-trend handmade goods. With over 130 vendors, shopping is a priority. But cocktail bars are serving drinks such as a "cranberry fizz," spiked hot chocolate and cider alongside a vendor offering free five-minute massages and hair braiding by Buffalo Braid Babe, all to the upbeat music of a live DJ. Again, not your typical market.

Step Out Buffalo's Makers and Shakers Market features a Bloody Mary bar. (Sarah K. McIlhatten/Special to the News)

World's Largest Disco

153 Franklin St.

The Buffalo Convention center hosts conferences, college fairs and festivals. But for the World's Largest Disco, mirrored balls and strobe lights replace the typical fluorescent lights and glitter and feathers take the place of more normal clothing.

The disco turns 25 this year and not much looks different now than in 1993. If there's one constant, it's spandex, flared, metallic pants and the Bee Gees. If you haven't gotten a ticket yet, you'll have to sign up for the waiting list and hope for an opening. Tickets sell out fast every year.

Thousands flock to the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center for the World's Largest Disco each year. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)


Buffalo Bills vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

A far cry from Jacksonville weather, a Florida football team is coming up to Buffalo. While it might not look quite this snowy, fans will inevitably smash tables and spill Labatt Blue on the coats of many. A Thanksgiving tradition.

The Bills have been known to have a home-field edge in cold weather. (Nick Veronica/Buffalo News)

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