Eight days from Christmas, Buffalo will bustle with holiday parties that embrace the theme of ugly sweaters, which are playful, often funny and occasionally comfortable. A last-minute market at Thin Man and a secular party at Black Iron Bystro in Blasdell are further wise choices for the window of Monday through Thursday.
Due to grammar rules, there can be only one ugliest sweater. It's just the way superlatives work! But you can vie for the honor of ugliest sweater owner at this Entercom event in the Marriott, enjoying live music by '80s-flavored Nerds Gone Wild (who don ugly sweaters throughout the year), watching scenes from classic holiday movies and posing for Christmas card photos along the way. Proceeds benefit the Food Bank of Western New York.
There's also a chance to find out if you're on Santa's naughty or nice list, which seems like awfully confidential material to be released in a public setting.
2. Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar Christmas Party, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 253 Allen St. Free to attend.
Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar has developed a reputation for a few things: they're open every day, they stay open until 4 a.m. and they have a knack for complimentary buffets at their special events. The Allentown live music venue welcomes five DJs - Incredible Scott Down, Charlie the Butcher, Malik von Saint, Drop D and Charles Masters, a similar cast as the recent anniversary party - to spin throughout the night.
The festive owls who grace the top of the event poster bring warmth and cheer to you. A "bad Santa" will drop by to deliver gifts - your guess is as good as mine.
3. Ugly Christmas Sweater Skate, 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20 at the Ice at Canalside (44 Prime St.). Admission is $6 for ages 13 and older, but wearing an ugly sweater earns $1 off. Skate rentals cost an additional $5.
The Ice at Canalside presents another themed skate, and you might want to layer aggressively under your ugly sweater. Dig out visually-revolting-yet-fuzzy apparel and lace up the skates - it's a better value, obviously, if you can bring your own - and zoom around the popular downtown rink.
Consider the ice bumper cars, too, especially if you've brought a friend that's wearing on your nerves.
4. Thin Man Brewery's holiday pop-up, 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, at 492 Elmwood Ave. Free to attend.
The restaurant-taproom-brewery on Elmwood unites a slew of Buffalo-based vendors for a pre-Christmas market Thursday evening, with Buffalo Made, Tangled Records, B Kind City Clothing, Kissed by the Sun spices and Beer Belly Jelly - jellies made using Buffalo ciders and beers - among others to be stationed throughout three floors.
[Photos: Smiles at Thin Man's 2017 pop-up market]
5. Black Iron Festivus, 6 to 11 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18 at Black Iron Bystro (3648 South Park Ave., Blasdell). Free to attend.
Festivus, a secular holiday given new life by "Seinfeld," will be celebrated at the South Park Avenue bar-restaurant Tuesday, with live music from Buffalo jazz outfit Gravy, complimentary hors d'oeuvres including Black Iron's popular banh mi bangers, samplings of wine and 42 North beer, and a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus on a motorcycle, a rather rugged twist.
Look back at Smiles from a previous Black Iron Festivus here.
The Riviera Theatre presents a new musical take on Charles Dickens' story of "A Christmas Carol," in which the theater notes that Scrooge - played by Scott H. Severance - is exceptional. The family friendly production, which weaves in 26 Christmas carols, uses puppetry and humor and more for a modern spin on the 1943 classic.
The 16-piece Afrobeat Orchestra is a collection of many of Buffalo musicians, ranging from percussion to saxophonists to brass and wide-ranging vocals. Joined on Thursday's bill by Root Shock, Buffalo Afrobeat Orchestra does the heavy lifting for danceable grooves at a venue that's truly come into its own in 2018.
8. Inaugural Light a Candle of Love, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, at Eastern Hills Church (8445 Greiner Road, Clarence). Free to attend, although prospective attendees are asked to RSVP with Amigone's Kristen Amigone-Sfeir on Facebook.
The Christmas season can be a time for reflection and remembrance, which fits nicely with the first running of Amigone's candlelight memorial service for loved ones who've died. Participation is not exclusive to those who've worked with the funeral home in the past.
9. Concerts For the Soul, 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, at Blessed Sacrament Church (1029 Delaware Ave.). Donations are accepted. Another show is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. at St. Michael's Church (651 Washington St.).
For rich seasonal appreciation, relish the voice of tenor Cory James Gallagher covering Christmas music through the ages, coupled with the thoughtful words of his sister, poet Amy Gallagher, at one of two Christmas-focused gigs - called Christmas Magic and Miracles - beginning Thursday. The two work beautifully in tandem and strive to convey their interpretation of the season's meaning.
Nintendo's "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" has taken the gaming world by storm, and Buffalo hasn't lagged behind the trend. While you likely won't be able to participate directly in this invite-only tournament, witness an internationally ranked player (No. 27 on something called the Smash.gg Panda Global Rank List) compete against other worthy competitors on the massive North Park screen.
Nintendo cosplay is encouraged - this version of Smash has 74 characters - and concessions, such as bubble tea and quirky Japanese snacks, will be available. One attendee who hasn't qualified or been invited will be chosen through a lottery to participate.
5 events to look forward to this weekend
CPXmas at Mohawk Place
Home Alone Bash at Lloyd Taco factories
Buffalo New Generations' Fashion Show at 500 Seneca
MAGS at Nietzsche's
Forty Thieves Christmas Party
"The Nutcracker" at Shea's sold out long ago.
Story topics: A Christmas Carol/ black iron bystro/ Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar/ event previews/ festivus/ holiday events/ Riviera Theatre/ Thin Man Brewery/ things to do/ this week in Buffalo/ ugly sweaters