Buffalo Pride Week, which cherishes the local LGBTQ+ community's courage and extols acceptance instead of division, annually produces one of the city's happiest days, uniting Buffalonians regardless of their sexual orientation.
Both the Elmwood Avenue parade and the Canalside festival are true celebrations, awash in color, noise and camaraderie, a refreshing environment in a world that still battles bigotry and hatred.
Here's a closer look at Pride Week's logistics and highlights, then a detailed rundown of what else is happening this weekend.
Pride Week highlights: Parade (noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 2, free) and Festival (1 to 7 p.m. Sunday, June 2, $10), with more events to be found at the Pride Week website. You can still register to march in the parade.
Just how popular is Buffalo's Pride Week? Evergreen Health organizers encourage parade participants to line up at 9 a.m. at Buffalo State College's parking lots R13 and R14, a full three hours before the parade maneuvers down Elmwood Avenue between Forest Avenue and Allen Street. That's how intense the interest is.
While the parade and festival overlap some, it's far from impossible to attend both. There's live music on the waterfront, with Todrick Hall and Brooke Lynn Heights headlining. Look back at scenes from the parade for a sense of the vibrancy and excitement.
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Larkinville Block Party, noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 1 in Larkin Square (745 Seneca St.). Free to attend.
There's a little bit of everything on the docket for Larkin Square on Saturday, with live music from Witty Tarbox, beginning at 1:30 p.m., followed by the Tins, two outdoor bars to reduce lines, MapleView Alpacas and puppies from Queen City Pitties to fawn over, food trucks and more than 40 local vendors (listed on the Facebook event page).
With many of Larkin's events happening during the week - Food Truck Tuesday and, soon, Live at Larkin on Wednesday - here's a weekend opportunity to investigate the neighborhood.
Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2 on immediately south of Hertel Avenue, between Colvin Avenue and Traymore Street. Hertel Alley is the actual name of a street. Free to attend.
Public art is prevalent on Hertel Avenue, with colorful, imaginative murals - like the can't-miss art on the two walls of Joe's Deli - enlivening the street. Quiet Hertel Alley, a three-block street just south of Hertel Avenue, will be blocked off for 20 street artists - both local and out-of-state - to work with the goal of establishing a vibrant public art destination.
The major activity will be on Saturday - with vendors in tow - but the finished products will be worth viewing on Sunday. Councilman Joel Feroleto, Urban Inspirations and the Hertel Business Association have joined forces to present this inaugural event.
Rock the Gates Vol. 3, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 1 at 12 Gates Brewing (80 Earhardt Drive, East Amherst). Cost is $15 in advance, $20 at the door. VIP passes are $60, while active military and veterans get in for free.
Should you be excited about the lineup of tribute bands, topped by the 9 p.m. set by The Hip Experience, from Toronto? (Also, oddly titled OCD/C is on the bill). What about the special local beer release of Strictly Hop IPA?
12 Gates Brewing's annual Rock the Gates returns its 12-hour marathon party in East Amherst. General admission tickets include a voucher for a 12 Gates pint glass - while supplies are available - plus the first drink.
The Buffalo Zoo's annual fundraiser is geared toward celebrating the city's progress, with roughly 50 food trucks, ample wine and beer offerings, and vendors who promote Buffalo specifically in attendance. Advanced purchase includes one free drink, and the event's organizers encourage an early arrival for a greater likelihood of seeing the animals mosey about.
Saved By the '90s - a cover band reinvigorating a nostalgic era of music for people in their 20s and 30s - will perform.
Buffalo's music fans may have been disappointed by Twenty One Pilots' canceled show Wednesday, due to the NBA's need to use Scotiabank Arena, the home of Eastern Conference victor Toronto, to prepare for the NBA Finals.
On the second leg of their Bandito Tour, Tyler Joseph and his bandmates are soaring off the success of "Trench," its fifth studio album release, last fall. "Jumpsuit," the first single on the disc, earned a Grammy nomination.
This KeyBank Center gig has been anticipated a while now - especially because the show was announced nearly eight months ago.
[Related: Read Tim O'Shei's review of Twenty One Pilots' show in 2016]
Greek Fest, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1; noon to 9 p.m. Sunday, June 2 at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church of Buffalo (146 W. Utica St.). Admission is $3 at the door, while children ages 12 and under get in for free.
Three-day Greek Fest strays from Buffalo's other major cultural festivals as much of it is indoors, spread out neatly between the two floors of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church [see the indoor vendor map].
But the outdoor tent - dedicated to food (the aromas are wonderful), dance, a marketplace and live music - is the most lively sector of the festival. News photographer Derek Gee snapped photos of the Annunciation Buffalo Greek Dancers, who drew quite the crowd, last year.
Due to increased popularity over the last two years, the Bison Children's Scholarship Fund has moved its chief fundraiser from Marcy Casino to Larkin Square. While the ticket price is near $50, the perks are in accordance: a two-and-a-half hour open bar, food included and live music by Vitamin D, the heralded project of in-demand Vin DeRosa, and free parking in the lot next to Larkin.
The Bison Fund is privately funded financial assistance for elementary school students from low-income families to be able to attend a private elementary school of their choosing. Check out Smiles from the Bison Fund luncheon from last October.
Art Alive, noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 1 outside the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (1285 Elmwood Ave.). Free to attend.
Art Alive is a wonderful family event on the grounds of the Albright-Knox, especially if weather cooperates. The concept is simple: groups, separated by age, are tasked with creating three-dimensional, living versions of famous paintings (obviously easier when those paintings involve people), with more than $1,000 in prize money at stake.
Attendees can lend their own evaluation, too, thanks to the People's Choice Award. Saturday's event is also affiliated with Pride Week, so expect there to be some features that connect the two.
100 American Craftsmen, 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 31; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 1; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 2 at Kenan Center Arena (195 Beattie Ave., Lockport). Tickets are $5 for admission each day, in advance, or $6 at the door.
The main attraction at Kenan Arena in Lockport will be a breadth of artisans from all over the country, displaying their creations for three days, with some live art sprinkled in. The complementary activities should add some spice, though, with live music, wine tastings, food trucks and more on the schedule.
The Niagara County event leads off Melinda Miller's Arts Beat story for this week.
6 quick hitters to consider:
• Polka Fest 3 and Pints + Pierogi - they're separate, in different parts of the same venue.
• Independent Health Kids Run at Delaware Park
• Shawn Wayans in VENU
• Rachel Wierzbicki's Celebration of Life
• Girls on the Run 5K at UB North
5 events to look forward to next week
Sammy Hagar at Artpark
Music on Main kickoff in Williamsville
Jericho Road's Bridging the Gap at Foundry Suites
Live at Larkin opens for the season
Wine and Wags for SPCA Serving Erie County
Story topics: 12 Gates Brewing/ Bison Children's Scholarship Fund/ Buffalo Greek Fest/ Buffalo Pride Week/ Hertel Alley Street Art Festival/ Hertel Avenue/ Larkin Square/ things to do/ Twenty One Pilots/ Weekend in WNY