It's full-steam ahead into the holiday season. The Buffalo area will light up this weekend through a wealth of tree lightings, holiday fundraisers and artisan markets. Here are some of the top events for this weekend.
1. Canalside holiday celebration and tree lighting, 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 30 at 44 Prime St. Free to attend, while ice skaters can receive $1 off by donating either a hat, gloves, scarf or socks to the Buffalo City Mission. Skating is $6 for adults, plus $5 for skate rentals.
Canalside has been eerily quiet for the past few weeks, with the exception of construction moving quickly at the Explore & More Children's Museum and utility work between HarborCenter and the Courtyard Marriott.
That will change Friday, when the holiday celebration and tree lighting lures families, friends and dates to witness a tree lighting and fireworks (at 6:30 p.m.), a visit from Santa, carols by the American Caroling Company and a live skating show.
2. Rotary Rink tree lighting, 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 1 at 20 Fountain Plaza. Free to attend, while skating is free and rentals range between $2-$3.
'Tis tree-lighting season, and Buffalo Place follows Canalside with its ceremonial lighting one day later. Rotary Rink, illuminated brilliantly at night with city lights, the colorful Electric Tower and the Gold Dome, features free skating, although participants are encouraged to bring their own skates to avoid the rental line.
Santa will hang out from 6:30 to 8 p.m. - dude has a tight schedule this time of year - while Duke's Donuts will be available for purchase. A kid-sized merry-go-round and Ferris Wheel are additional perks.
Also, the Darwin Martin House (125 Jewett Parkway) will host a tree lighting from 4 to 6 p.m. Dec. 1 with music, an ornament workshop, holiday treats, discounts in the gift store and story time for kids. The tree lighting will occur at 5 p.m.
3. Holiday in the Village in Williamsville, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 1 at businesses along Main Street in Williamsville, with a 6 p.m. tree lighting at the Village Hall (5565 Main St.). It's free to take part.
The Williamsville Business Association has been active lately, showcasing its new-look Main Street at the Main Event and now trumpeting a day of festivities to herald in the holidays.
Key activities include a holiday market outside the Williamsville Library from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., as well as joy for kids at Apple Wood Cafe, The Irishman, Village Artisans and Hampton Inn, among other locations. Find a PDF with the event schedule here.
4. Holiday Live at Larkin, 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 30 at Larkin Square (745 Seneca St.). Free to attend.
Practically omnipresent Vin DeRosa and his band Vitamin D will perform original holiday-inspired music in Larkin Square, which boasts the cozy setting of a heated boardwalk (no, it's not just the holiday warmth you're feeling).
The usual smorgasbord of holiday vendors, food trucks, and beer and wine options will be present; expect Larkin Square to be plenty inviting during the holiday season, and the explosion of new businesses nearby could make this event just a starting point.
Sultans of Swig and Buffalo Iron Works have joined forces for a fundraiser for the Matt Urban Center's Hope House, a homeless shelter for women and children.
The Santas of Swig event doubles as a chance for more than 20 local home-brewers to tout their hoppy hobbies, from biting IPAs to rich porters. It's amazing what can be created in someone's basement; Buffalo brewing culture - even at this granular level - is for real.
More than $7,000 has been raised and more than 500 toys doled out through this event's efforts the last three years.
An open bar, appetizers and music create a lively atmosphere at this fundraiser for non-profit Friends of Carly - formerly known as Carly's Club - which is under the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center umbrella.
Wriggle into classy holiday attire and hang out downtown for a good cause. Take note: The gift gathering is a different event than the Courage of Carly holiday party, which you can learn about here.
7. Queen City Market, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Karpeles Manuscript Library (453 Porter Ave.). Free to attend, but donations of canned goods for the Food Bank of WNY are encouraged.
These holiday markets don't show signs of stopping (not sure about corn's availability). The Karpeles museum on Porter is the annual home to a bustling slate of artisans, and as usual, we'll list our three favorite vendor names: Carla's Crumby Creations, Devil Chicken Design (which Francesca Bond calls "trendy" in her markets primer), and Puccoon Raccoon.
Look back at Smiles from last year's Queen City Market here.
8. Festival of Slice, 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 30 at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute (28 Old Falls St.). Free to attend, and slices are $1 apiece.
Few things perk up the spirits of locals like pizza. The slab of dough, sauce and cheese is both unifying and divisive; the arguments over which restaurant crafts the best pie will endure forever, but there's always a new version to try.
DiCamillo's Bakery, The Little Bakery, Casa Antica and more Niagara Falls pizzerias will aim to win the People's Choice award - each attendee receives one vote. The 17 pizzerias will offer one cheese and one specialty option, and if you tire of pizza, a cash bar will be there.
Upstairs at the culinary center is the Gingerbread Wonderland, which warrants further exploring - but no nibbling.
In This Week in Buffalo, we spotlighted the Carnegie Art Center's Art Off the Wall event, which made local art affordable, which is also the premise of Project 308's annual gig Saturday. Ten Buffalo-area artists will participate in Art Under $100 - find more information about them here.
Consider another cool art event, the Burchfield Penney's holiday sale, runs Friday through Sunday and will welcome a swath of artists.
Geared toward families, this market by Totally Buffalo, a pro-Buffalo blog run by Mary Friona Celani that also runs a popular spring festival, introduces 100 local vendors to a gaggle of holiday shoppers in spacious RiverWorks.
School, church and community choirs will be on hand to sing Christmas music, while each attendee will receive two 10-percent off coupons to use at vendors of their choice. Don't fret, Disney princesses will be on site, too, as they are at all Totally Buffalo events.
BONUS 2: Lockhouse Distillery fifth anniversary, 6 p.m. Nov. 30 at 41 Columbia St.
BONUS 3: Electric Light Parade, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 1 on Grand Island Boulevard in Grand Island. Free to attend, and the Rudolph Run is only $8 and includes a light-up nose.
5 events to look forward to for next week
*City of Buffalo Artists Market in Ellicott Square Building
*Kissmas Bash in KeyBank Center
*Casa Azul second anniversary
*Holiday vendor market at Larkin Square
*Kerfuffle Before Christmas: Night Two
Story topics: canalside/ Carly's Club/ event previews/ holiday events/ holiday markets/ Larkin Square/ Niagara Falls Culinary Institute/ pizza/ Project 308/ The 10/ things to do/ Totally Buffalo Festival/ Williamsville