There are parts of the holiday season we cannot go without each year. Maybe it's specific music, the ceremonial lighting of a tree, dressing up for a holiday event or baking reindeer-shaped snicker doodle cookies.
Don't have one that comes to mind? Consider long-standing traditions – such as "A Christmas Carol" by Alleyway Theatre, now in its 37th year – and developing traditions such as JazzBuffalo's holiday show, which has the promise to carry on for decades.
Watching "Home Alone" every December is another holiday must for many. Why not do it with Buffalo's elite classical musicians delivering a powerful, live soundtrack? Here's your guide for this week.
Last year's JazzBuffalo Jazzy Christmas was so popular it sold out twice – the people kept demanding more! – and now it's back by popular demand.
The performers – the Ladies First Jazz Big Band and the Buffalo Dolls – both return with their early 20th century twists on holiday classics.
"A Christmas Carol" at Alleyway Theatre, begins 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, at One Curtain Up Alley. Tickets are $40 for adults, $20 for students; full details. Production runs through Dec. 22 (although the finale already has sold out).
When Colin Dabkowski detailed the 35th anniversary of Neal Radice's holiday production two years ago, he called it a "comforting constant in a changing city." That still rings true, urban renaissance or not.
Scrooge, who's probably not thrilled with repeating his character transformation every holiday season the last 175 years, is ultimately an encouraging reminder that people can change. (The play is also encouraging for medium-sized and large people named Tim).
Macaulay Culkin is obviously the star of "Home Alone," with the antics of the Wet Bandits coming a close second. ("You look like a chicken"). But the most unheralded standout of "Home Alone"? It's John Williams, who wrote a brilliant soundtrack that will be amplified – live to film – by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra this week at Kleinhans.
The spectacle is an excellent way to cherish the gifts of the BPO while checking off a holiday tradition.
What would Christmas be without Jean Valjean? (Answer: Probably still the same Christmas). But the Broadway production of "Les Mis," a scalding hot ticket back in 2012 for its 25th anniversary, nabbed a 3.5-star review from Ben Siegel and now returns to the Theatre District.
Like many big-budget touring musicals, "Les Miserables" is pleasing to the eyes and ears, with upgraded cinematic elements and a timeless score.
Stop, Sip and Shop, 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore. Free to attend.
More than 30 vendors will take part in the Kenmore Business Association's holiday extravaganza, jammed with perks like wine and food samples, free parking at meters with Christmas tree labels, a Chinese auction and a checklist with potential prizes.
The event headquarters (also site of the snacks) is Diversified Hearing, at 2900 Delaware Ave., with the participants listed here. Carolers, a visit from Santa and neighborhood cheer make this a family-friendly attraction. Remember to take turns in the gazebo.
Sold out: Gusto Vinyl Happy Hour featuring two Beatles albums. These are hot tickets every month.
4 more that pack a punch
GObike might be known best for hosting the SkyRide and collaborating with the weekly Slow Roll, but there's a sense of community through its Colvin Avenue workshop and smaller gatherings throughout the year. One free drink and hors d'oeuvres are included in the ticket price, which is nice.
Hospice Buffalo Holiday Market, 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, at Hospice Buffalo (225 Como Park Blvd., Cheektowaga). No cost to attend. The market alerts continue after a wild weekend; Wednesday's event has a charitable bent, with a chance to support the Hospice Foundation along with a collection of local vendors.
[Photos: Smiles at Hospice Harvest Fest 2019]
Rochester A-List and the ROConnoisseur will zoom down the I-90 to host a party for the December full moon on Patrick's Rooftop. Cocktail and food tastings from 6 to 8 p.m. in Forbes Theater set the stage for rooftop viewing, exclusive to VIP holders until 9 but fair game after. Tim Britt Band will perform, while a portion of proceeds will benefit the Eric Wood Foundation.
[Related: Patrick's Rooftop is NY's biggest rooftop bar outside of New York City]
Grand-opening of the Spare Room, 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, at 500 Pearl. Bowling games are discounted $5 per game for the first two hours; drink and food specials throughout the night. Prospective attendees are asked to RSVP.
The grand openings in 500 Pearl keep coming, wave after wave. Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson – more accustomed to bowling over quarterbacks of late! – will be present from 7 to 8:30; he's unofficially the team's best trash talker. Here's more info about the Ellicott Development bowling enterprise; the Spare Room can be accessed directly from Pearl Street or downstairs from W XYZ Bar.
11 quick-hitters for this week
"Black Christmas" by Thursday Night Terrors
12 Gates' fourth anniversary party
Undergrounds' Christmas tree lighting
Yelp's Brewed Awakening holiday festival
"Elf" watch party in New York Beer Project
Aaron Carter at Showplace Theatre
The Quarter's one-year celebration
Coles' holiday party
Vegan tasting and brews on Oliver Street
Holiday mixer at Webster's Bistro
Christmas party at Lime House
5 events to look forward to this weekend
TID the Season (Every Time I Die) in RiverWorks (two nights)
Trans-Siberian Orchestra at KeyBank Center (two shows)
Shop South Buffalo on Abbott, McKinley
Platter's Christmas Bash at the Wurlitzer
Niagara Falls SantaCon