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This Week in Buffalo: Christmas spectacles

In the span of four days, Celine Dion, Jimmy Eat World, Vanessa Williams and Linus and his blanket will grace Western New York. That is pretty cool.

Most events are geared toward the holidays, with annual staples such as Alternative Buffalo's Kerfuffle Before Christmas – which has a new twist this year – plus the Seneca Niagara tree lighting and Mannheim Steamroller's trusty arrival.

Be prepared for the openings in your schedule from Monday through Thursday this week, with an especially robust Weekend in WNY entry coming Thursday morning. (If you haven't already, sign up to have it sent to your inbox).

Kerfuffle Before Christmas, Part I, 6 to 11 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4 at Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). General admission is $35 in advance, $100 for VIP (VIP not available at the door).

Alt Buffalo's special twist for 2019 appeals to a wider listen base; Part I of the series will be held in RiverWorks this week, but Niagara County fans will be placated when Rapids Theatre gets its turn to host Part II on Dec. 13.

As is customary for the Entercom radio station's shows, the lineup is a nice mix of old and new. Jimmy Eat World, known for decades for "The Middle" and tear-jerking "Hear You Me," is joined by lovelytheband – barely 3 years old – and Two Feet, a newcomer with some bite to his lyrics.

[Related: Smiles at Kerfuffle Before Christmas, Part I, 2018| Smiles at Jimmy Eat World in Artpark]

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Celine Dion, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 at KeyBank Center. Tickets range from $45 to $225.

Twenty years ago, Celine Dion made a triumphant debut in Buffalo after having to postpone a previous announcement due to her husband's battle with cancer, and her voice – especially on "The Power of Love" and "My Heart Will Go On" – inspired descriptive prose in this "Diva Debate," even though opener Corey Hart's pants were allegedly too tight.

Fast forward to today: Dion hasn't toured extensively in the last 10 years, but her Sunday night gig in Chicago – even if it tested her fans' patience initially – proved she still has vocal chops. See the set list in Chicago Sun Times' review.

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"A Charlie Brown Christmas" Live, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3 at Riviera Theatre (67 Webster St., North Tonawanda). Tickets range from $39.50 to $49.50.

The brilliance of Charles M. Schulz's comic strip keeps giving two decades after his death. The nationally touring production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" hits the stage at elegant Riviera Theatre this week for one day only. It's family-friendly for several reasons: its subject matter, valuable lessons, length and lovable characters.

We're curious about the breakdown of people who prefer Snoopy to Charlie Brown as their favorite "Peanuts" character; this Reddit thread is a little profane but the character defenses are worth a peep.

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Christmas Spirits, 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4 in Forbes Theater at 500 Pearl. General admission is free, with VIP tickets available for $35.

One of the area's coolest, most modern projects – the mixed-use 500 Pearl – will host its first holiday market and spirit sampling in two spaces. First, the W XYZ Bar welcomes 12 vendors for perusing, live music and drink specials, and a chance to decorate Christmas cookies with Fairy Cakes Cupcakery.

Forbes Theater harbors five visiting distilleries, including yet-to-open Hartman's Distilling and Fairport-based Iron Smoke, plus three wineries and six breweries for sampling, plus a "selfie with Santa" contest and an ornament gift.

The VIP treatment features a make-your-own hot chocolate bar, passed hors d'oeuvres and an exclusive stage area in addition to the free perks.

[Read about more 500 Pearl businesses: Fresh Catch Poke & Galley Lounge, Patrick's Rooftop]

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Holiday Happy Hour for United Way, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Draft Room (79 Perry St.). Free to attend, although registration is required in advance.

A new initiative of the local United Way branch is centered on families, particularly those that make more than the poverty line but far from enough to properly care for the household.

While the website details the statistics of this local population – which are pretty staggering – the UW branch offers support in financial education, care for mothers and babies, and literacy tools for children. The happy hour, which includes complimentary food and drink in the new venue by KeyBank Center, sheds more light on the program.

[Editorial: United Way faces growing need]

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Seneca Niagara Holiday Tree Lighting, 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 310 4th St., Niagara Falls. Free to attend.

Unsure if you want to fork over $175 for a single seat at Vanessa Williams' intimate gig Thursday in the Bear's Den? See her perform briefly for free Wednesday at the annual Christmas tree lighting, which also includes celebrities Santa and Mrs. Claus, cookies and hot chocolate, and adoptable dogs from Niagara SPCA.

[Related: Tim O'Shei interviews Vanessa Williams last year | Review of Williams with the BPO]

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Brickyard Brewing Holiday Market, 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 at 432 Center St., Lewiston. Free to attend.

The third year of Brickyard Brewing's holiday market is upon us and, dating back to its inaugural event, the Lewiston brewery clearly takes its Christmas decorating seriously.

Brickyard has announced its participating vendors on its Facebook page, ranging from popcorn and chocolate to bow ties and soap. (There's art and clothing, too, but there's always art and clothing). Proceeds from raffles at the event benefit Toys for Tots.

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Mannheim Steamroller at Shea's Buffalo, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 at 646 Main St. Tickets begin at $32.

It's a little ironic that Mannheim Steamroller falls under New Age music, given the ensemble is 45 years old and appeals to a slightly older demographic. But the annual Christmas visit is so refined and Chip Davis' seasonal repertoire so deep that performances are remarkably consistent – Melinda Miller used "well-oiled" to describe the "steamroller" – which is comforting during an often volatile holiday period.

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8 more quick-hitters for this week

Pop-up Shops & Holiday Hops at Bottle Rocket Beer Reserve
Holiday Shopping at Adrian's Beef & Custard
Roycroft Village of Trees tree lighting
Victorian Christmas at Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site
Shakespeare's "Christmas Carol" at Desiderio Dinner Theatre
Holiday vendor market at Larkin Square
Mr. Goodbar Cask Ale Fest begins
Village of Depew tree lighting

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Special: 10 events to look forward to this weekend

SantaCon Buffalo on Chippewa Street
Holiday Live at Larkin Square
Downtown Christmas Tree Lighting at Rotary Rink
Yuletide in the Country at Hamburg Fairgrounds
Festival of Trees at Buffalo Niagara Convention Center
Christmas on Main Street in Williamsville
Queen City Market at Karpeles Manuscript Museum on Porter
Tree of Light at the Darwin Martin House
Festival of Slice at Niagara Falls Conference & Event Center
Lewiston Christmas Walk

Email: btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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