The two premier concerts scheduled for this weekend - Every Time I Die's TID the Season in RiverWorks and Lindsey Stirling's gig at Shea's Buffalo - sold out well in advance.
But don't fret! The Buffalo area welcomes two cookie-focused events, two compelling holiday markets and a partridge sauntering down Southwestern Boulevard.
1. Niagara Falls SantaCon, 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, begins at Anchor Bar inside the Holiday Inn in Niagara Falls and continues to five other bars. Admission is $5 at any of the participating bars.
Buffalo doesn't get to hog all the fun. After last weekend's SantaCon brought Santas, Christmas sweaters, tinsel scarves and Gingerbread Men to Chippewa, the Downtown Niagara Falls Business Association presents its inaugural SantaCon as part of the Jingle Falls festivities.
For $5, bar crawlers receive entry into Anchor Bar, the Hard Rock Cafe, the Rainforest Cafe in the Sheraton, the Craft, and Chill 443, plus drink specials at each participating location and free access to a shuttle that zooms between bars. See the general timeline for the event here.
[Related: Smiles at SantaCon 2018 on Chippewa]
Perhaps The Terrace's Cookie Fest will start a chain of cookie-focused events in Buffalo; few people will be disappointed, I'd think. The admission fee includes a special holiday mug and one adult beverage, with an Irish coffee and hot chocolate bar to be set up. Cookie vendors - some of whom will provide samples - include Pastry by Camille, Caramici's, Luigi's, Romano's and Public Espresso.
Known for its views of Hoyt Lake from the heated second-floor patio, the Terrace will bustle inside and out on Saturday afternoon.
[Related: Did you know a caiman - a relative to the alligator - was once caught in Hoyt Lake?]
3. Cookies For a Cause IV, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 at Flying Bison Brewing Co. (840 Seneca St.). A $10 donation is good for a mixed box of cookies, while bringing a minimum of three dozen cookies allows for a $5 box of cookies.
Don't be shocked if Cookie Monster - who has a fairly funny Twitter account - catches a plane to Buffalo this weekend, as this fundraiser for the Matt Urban Human Services Center will be inundated with cookies of all kinds for an exchange in mixed boxes.
Mazurek's, Pastry by Camille and Fairycakes Cupcakery are among the local businesses to donate cookies for the event, but the event's success is dependent on the participation - and baking - of those supporting the cause. Flying Bison has a slew of beers to complement these cookies, too, from the Winter Warmer to Brindle Porter to the Spot Coffee Stout.
4. Last-Minute Panic Holiday Marketplace, 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 15 in WNY Book Arts Center (468 Washington St.). Free to attend.
More than 40 vendors will set up across both floors of the downtown WNY Book Arts Center, representing a wonderful chance to put a shiny bow on Christmas shopping (and that money goes back into Buffalo's economy, which is thrilling).
Handmade jewelry, stationery, scarves and artwork are among the treasures on hand, while a letterpress workshop for holiday cards shows off one of the Book Arts Center's many talents.
5. 98 Degrees, 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 at Seneca Niagara Events Center (310 4th St., Niagara Falls). Tickets start at $35 for a single seat or $45 apiece for seats together; limited tickets remain here.
The News' Tim O'Shei caught up with Drew Lachey and Jeff Timmons in advance of 98 Degrees' Christmas show in Seneca Niagara, reminiscing about the index-card mania of 1999, thanks to a Kiss 98.5 FM contest, and discussing how much different it is to perform now than when the group was a yearned-for boy band.
With the four members now in their early to mid 40s, 98 Degrees has a strong holiday bent - they've gone on Christmas tours the last two years, and their "Let It Snow" from 2017 is their most-recent full-length release.
6. Stay Gold: Community Art Party in Burchfield Penney, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 at 1300 Elmwood Ave. Free to attend.
If you're looking for an underrated party focused on local music that won't cost you a penny (not intended as a pun, just worked out), then the Burchfield Penney features short sets from seven musicians across two areas - the reception space and the east gallery, with 11 art installations planned as well.
Mac McGuire talked to John Smigielski, assistant production manager at the Burchfield Penney and a musician himself, about the premise of the event and what he intends to showcase, here.
7. Seneca Street Christmas Market, 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 at Saint John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church (2315 Seneca St.). No cost to attend.
Development company Hook & Ladder has helped spur Seneca Street's resurgence in South Buffalo, setting the stage for new local businesses to succeed in a community known more for stability and consistency - although some may see that as stagnancy.
Hook & Ladder will present a Christmas market on Saturday near Cazenovia Park, with kids activities such as arts and crafts, and carriage rides through the park from 3 to 6 p.m., as well as more than 20 vendors, live music and light refreshments planned for the afternoon.
8. Santa Paws, 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16 at West Herr Buick Cadillac (535 Main St., East Aurora). No cost to attend.
Since there's a reasonable chance your pet has already been coerced into holiday attire, then encouraged - perhaps with the allure of treats - to sit still for a photo shoot, it might be considerate to take them out to West Herr on Sunday for a little spoiling.
Buffalo Pug and Small Breed Rescue is behind this Sunday event, where pet-focused vendors, basket raffles and a 50-50 drawing, pet pictures with Santa (which ought to be epic) and the opportunity to create dog-paw art with your pet are among the draws.
Unfortunately, cancer touches a ton of lives, and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center presents a family-friendly holiday gathering Friday night featuring a candle-lighting ceremony, carriage rides, live music, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and warm drinks to help fight the cold.
10. East Aurora Carolcade, 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 on closed-off Main Street, between Olean and Riley, in East Aurora. Free to attend.
The Village of East Aurora will be spruced up for the holidays, and Saturday night is the chance to celebrate at the annual Carolcade in front of Vidler's 5 and 10. Songbooks will be provided, thankfully, as virtually no one knows the third verse of "Deck the Halls" by heart.
Join in on Christmas carols (but don't be the one who belts out the harmony louder than the melody), relax with friends and roam some of the East Aurora businesses that will stay open late for the crowds. Caroling is superb at fostering a sense of community; look back at the Smiles from last year's festivities.
The veteran folk rocker stops back in his hometown for a club show Saturday, and The News' Jeff Miers plugged them in his Gigs of the Week. The pop music critic threw a little shade at the present state of the Grammys, pointing to their slight in leaving out Nile's most-recent effort, "Children of Paradise."
5 events to look forward to next week
Black Iron Bystro's Festivus
Ugliest Sweater Party at Buffalo Marriott
Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar Christmas Party
Thin Man Brewery's holiday pop-up
Ugly Christmas sweater skate at Canalside
Story topics: Burchfield Penney Art Center/ event previews/ Flying Bison Brewing Co./ Jingle Falls/ Matt Urban Hope Center/ Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center/ SantaCon/ The 10/ The Terrace at Delaware Park/ things to do/ Weekend in WNY/ WNY Book Arts Center