Neighborhoods, especially in developing cities, have life cycles. Difficult periods are often punctuated by moments of rebirth, with enduring progress followed by healthy stability before the cycle repeats. These phases are inexact, at times idealistic and narrative-driven, but the seasons are evident in Buffalo neighborhoods.
Broadway-Fillmore, part of history-rich Polonia, has been on the fringes – or just outside – of the perceived Buffalo renaissance, even if encouraging signs and willing businesses are eager to spearhead the neighborhood forward.
Five Points, however, nears the peak of its rapid ascent, thriving due to an influx of new business and strong development interest, with whispers of gentrification along the way.
Both neighborhoods – on either side of downtown Buffalo – are charming in their own rights, and they both host intriguing festivals this weekend.
Old World Christmas Market, 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle (612 Fillmore Ave.). Free to attend.
As the Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle approaches its 125th anniversary next year, momentum builds around the Fillmore Avenue haunt – even beyond its annual Dyngus Day dynamism.
The debut of the Old World Christmas Market features a slew of vendors inside, the unveiling of a refurbished bar hearkening back to the library's late-19th century origin, hot mulled wine and hot chocolate, plus a tree lighting outside Mickie's at 6 p.m.
The Polish library is now home to Torn Space Theater, which presents outside-the-box plays such as "Manmade Earth" and more frequent cultural events, such as Polish Constitution Day in May and an approaching speaker series date Jan. 25. Still, somehow, it remains a hidden gem in Buffalo.
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Five Points Winter Festival, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at businesses in the Five Points neighborhood in the West Side. Free to attend.
The Buffalo neighborhood soaring with optimism will host its first winter market, drawing attention to 13 businesses – almost all less than a decade old. Remedy House, Five Points Bakery, Blue Table Chocolates, Urban Roots, Pilates Art Studio, Paradise Wine and more will have perks, from mulled wine to pictures with Santa to chocolate Christmas tree ornaments.
Like most organized neighborhood festivals, Five Points' version will have a postcard to check off businesses visited; completed cards will serve as entries for the raffle prize.
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Niagara Falls Santa Con, 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at several venues in Niagara Falls. Costs $10 at any of the participating spots.
Buffalo's SantaCon was so last weekend; the mass of Santas is moving north. Complementing Jingle Falls on Old Falls Street, the annual Niagara Falls Santa Con rumbles to venues such as Anchor Bar (4 p.m.), the Hyatt Place (5:45 p.m.), close-by Craft Kitchen & Bar and Wine on Third (7:30 p.m.), and Chill 443 (9:30 p.m.), the final stop.
All participating businesses will offer specials on food and drink, and there will be raffles, DJs, a costume contest and shuttle service from bar to bar via Discover Niagara. Unlike the open agenda Chippewa, be mindful of the scheduled times so you won't be a sad, left-behind Santa.
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Cookies for a Cause V, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Resurgence Brewing Co. (1250 Niagara St.). Donation of $10 gets a mixed box of cookies, or bringing at least three dozen homemade cookies plus a $5 donation nets a mixed box of cookies.
Buffalo does not have enough public Christmas cookie exchanges, a void Rebecca Decker set out to fill – with a charitable bent. The fifth annual Cookies for a Cause will be a sugary convergence of baking and sharing, replete with holiday joy and support for the Matt Urban Hope Center.
Mazurek's Bakery has already contributed 12 dozen cookies to the cause, and there's great potential for a compelling mixed bag of treats.
[Related: Broadway-Fillmore Alive did a full interview with Decker on her event]
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The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will be busy this weekend, with JoAnn's Classical Christmas rolling on Friday and Saturday, and a plumper conductor with a floppier hat – Santa – waving the baton briefly Sunday for the family-friendly Jingle Bell Jam.
Soundtrack tunes from "Home Alone," "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" are on the agenda, with Santa also leading a sing-a-long.
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Holiday Market Mania
Holiday market at the Foundry
Flying Bison Holiday Artisan Market
42 North Holiday Market
Mistletoe Marketplace at Buffalo Niagara Marriott
Last-Minute Holiday Marketplace at WNY Book Arts Center (Day 2)
Holiday market on Bidwell Parkway
Holiday market at the Barrel Factory
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11 rapid-fire options for this weekend
Trans-Siberian Orchestra, two shows at KeyBank Center
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, two nights in Town Ballroom
Kerfuffle Before Christmas, Part II in Rapids Theatre
Tree of Hope at Roswell Park
City Beyond the Falls by Buffalo Obscura in Niagara Falls
Platter's Christmas Bash in North Tonawanda
Holiday Cookie Fest 2 at Terrace at Delaware Park
Science After Hours: Make it Festive at Museum of Science
Mohawk Place Xmas Party featuring the Gennies
Breakfast with Santa and the animals at the Buffalo Zoo
Cocktails and Caroling for a Cause in Williamsville
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5 events to look forward to next week
DBGB, Flavors of Allentown Christmas Party
Cookies and Cocktails at Shea's Seneca
Straight No Chaser at Shea's Buffalo Theatre
Buffalo Brewery Cookie Party at Brawler's Deli
Christmas Celebration in North Tonawanda