With Buffalo's promoters and venues gearing up for New Year's Eve celebrations, this weekend is a little quiet event-wise as a result. There are still several smaller activities - especially a few that are family friendly - that can make for a nice outing.
1. PJ Skate at Canalside, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30 at 44 Prime St. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for kids ages 6-12 and military, and free for ages 5 and under. Skate rental is $5. The rink is open until 8 p.m.
BlueCross BlueShield's weekly PJ Skate wraps up at Canalside this Sunday, as kids, ages 10 and under, receive a free hot chocolate if they wear their pajamas while ice skating. Since matching or over-the-top PJs were popular Christmas gifts - my sources are every other photo on Instagram - this is the ideal chance to show them off.
The week between Christmas and New Year's is one of the busiest for Canalside, as families are anxious to leave the house, enjoy winter activities and help the kids exhaust their post-Christmas-cookie energy.
2. Rock Autism X-mas Thank You, 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29 at Thin Man Brewery (492 Elmwood Ave.). Free to attend.
It's been a busy year for local musician Max Muscato and the Rock Autism Foundation, which has raised money to help those with special needs, a cause close to the performer. Dozens of shows at virtually every venue in Western New York precipitated the inaugural Rock Autism Festival, held in Ellicottville this past summer.
On Saturday at Thin Man, Muscato will play a free gig to show his gratitude for the support for his music and charitable initiative.
Something of a local legend, quizmaster Dennis George has refined his craft for decades, and his mini games cover a broad range of topics. Roll over to the Museum of Science for the newest edition of the adult-focused series, which has featured dinosaurs, messes of all kinds and Frankenstein in the past.
There's a cash bar plus food from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que for purchase, and the museum is open to be explored. Read more about the Science After Hours series here.
4. Live Band Karaoke at Rec Room, 10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28 in Rec Room (79 W. Chippewa St.). No cover before 11 p.m., small charge after.
If karaoke wasn't adrenaline-inducing enough already, imagine having a backing band in support. Hits from the '90s and 2000s will resonate around Buffalo's newest music venue, as amateur performers may choose inspiring tracks like Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping" or test their falsettos with The Darkness' "I Believe in a Thing Called Love."
5. "Mary Poppins Returns" or "Aquaman," at theaters throughout the Buffalo area. Prices and showtimes vary.
Two major December releases are in theaters, as "Mary Poppins" touts a Who's Who cast and is the "feel-good film of the year," according to Esquire. Although Marvel fans might roll their eyes, DC Comics' "Aquaman" was well-received by viewers despite lukewarm reception from critics. While remarkably different in plot, the two films represent an opportunity to escape from post-holiday reality for a few hours.
6. Buffalo Infringement Festivus, 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29 in Nietzsche's (248 Allen St.). Cost is $5 at the door and it's 21 and over.
The Infringement Festival, scheduled for July 25 to Aug. 4, is one of Buffalo's most off-beat celebrations of local music and art, and it's not easy or cheap to present such a swath of free activities.
Saturday brings Festivus, a chance to financially back the endeavor while enjoying local music from Curtis Lovell - whom The News' Jeff Miers highlighted last month - plus Type Relevant, Ghost Water, Astrabula and more.
7. As If: Snow Ball, 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28 at Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St.). Cost is $5 at the door.
The regular dance party hits Mohawk Place again late Friday night, with the classic '90s and 2000s theme in music. DJs Gabtron and Garbanzo will spin a hand-selected list of tracks, but ultimately this is an affordable, relaxed event to let loose after Christmas.
8. "Fantastic Beasts" Bash, 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29 in the Hamburg Public Library (102 Buffalo St., Hamburg). Free to attend, but reservations can be made by calling 649-4415.
Long before Harry Potter was a glint in his mother's eyes, Newt Scamander roamed the wizarding world with a gaggle of magical creatures, including the adorable, gold-hungry Nifflers. These fantastic beasts have (naturally) invaded the Hamburg Public Library, and a family friendly event will be held Saturday to track Scamander's odd friends.
Trivia and create-your-own beast are additional perks, while Harry Potter or "Fantastic Beasts" costumes are encouraged.
[Read more: A Harry Potter primer, a previous Gusto cover story]
9. Poinsettia and Railway Exhibit, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28 through Sunday, Dec. 30 in the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens, with more dates and times here. Exhibition runs through Jan. 6. Cost is $11 for adults, $10 for seniors, $9 for students and kids ages 3-12 pay $6. Tickets may be purchased here.
The deep red of a Botanical Gardens poinsettia has graced the cover of Gusto's Facebook Page (shameless plug to "like" us, because we're occasionally needy) for the last month; it's called the Christmas Flower for relatively obvious reasons.
The exhibition, which also features intricate railways, is nearing the end of its run, and perhaps you have more free time in your schedule now that Christmas is over. Plus, it's a strong choice for the family.
[Read more: Poinsettias in 100 Things series]
Four-piece pseudo-Americana band Driftwood, hailing from Binghamton, leads the bill for a Saturday show at the Tralf. The group - which occasionally works in a kazoo - released "Live at the Purple Fiddle," a recording from two nights at a West Virginia cafe, this summer, with another project, "Tree of Shade," set to come out in spring 2019.
Local country-rock band Uncle Ben's Remedy is support for the show.
5 events for next week - NYE-themed
Downtown ball drop at the Electric Tower
Statler City Ice Ball
007 Affair at the Terrace at Delaware Park
Great Gatsby New Year's at the Adam's Mark
Aqueous at Town Ballroom
Story topics: Buffalo Infringement Festival/ Canalside events/ concert previews/ event previews/ karaoke/ Max Muscato/ Rock Autism Music Festival/ Science After Hours/ The 10/ Thin Man Brewery/ things to do