Family-friendly season opening celebration planned for Friday evening
Visit www.buffalowaterfront.com for skating hours, venue and event details
Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. and Be Our Guest Ltd. will open The Ice at Canalside, presented by BlueCross Blue Shield of Western New York at 3 p.m. A family-friendly season-opening celebration is scheduled for Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
This season marks the return of Ice favorites, including skating, curling, ice bikes and ice bumper cars. New this year: six-person heated igloos available to rent. Skaters will also be able to warm up and get a snack at the new Explore & More – The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum Low Bridge Café, presented by M&T Bank.
“Opening the Ice at Canalside is a special way to kick off the winter and holiday season each year,” ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia said. “Skaters and rinkside visitors can enjoy the festive atmosphere, the new Low Bridge Café and a wide variety of food and beverage choices. We encourage families to come make some holiday memories at Canalside.”
The Ice, open since 2014 with the support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, provides visitors with a skating surface that is bigger than two NHL rinks, with three unique bridges and more than 20,000 square feet of pedestrian towpaths.
Friday’s opening celebration presented by Citizen’s Bank begins with the opening of Ice at Canalside at 1 p.m., followed by the start of festivities at 5 p.m. Celebration highlights include: a DJ performance from 5-10 p.m.; happy hour at the Low Bridge Café from 5-7 p.m.; a visit from Santa Claus from 5-9 p.m.; “Snow Sisters” from Dream Is a Wish Entertainment from 6-9 p.m.; and fireworks at 7:15 p.m.
In addition, there will be BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York giveaways, free hot chocolate vouchers for the first 500 visitors, free hot dog vouchers for the first 100 visitors, and an on-ice performance. For more information on the Celebration, visit www.buffalowaterfront.com.
Once again, the Honda Winter Pavilion, located directly next to the ice, is the main entrance point for skate rentals and admission. It provides a warm, covered area where visitors can pay admission, rent skates, complete safety waivers and rent storage lockers. All guests entering the ice must complete an ice waiver, which can also be done ahead of time on www.buffalowaterfront.com. Curling – interested parties can reserve lane time at https://buffalowaterfront.com/events/curling – is located next to Explore & More, as in years past, and the ice bumper cars have a designated space underneath the Roswell Park “Bridge of Hope.”
The Snack Shack at the Ice will serve as another of the food and beverage areas, featuring a menu with hot winter treats, movie theater candy and McCullagh coffee and hot chocolate. The new heated igloos, seating up to six people, are available to book at https://buffalowaterfront.com/activities/igloos-at-the-ice and include skating/rentals/hot beverages and food options. The Low Bridge Café at Explore & More will be open during the open skate hours (to March 1), serving hot food and featuring happy hour specials.
Returning programs this year include Skate Great learn to skate, GameOn leagues, Healthy Buffalo broomball, and the community skate program sponsored by The Skaters Edge Boutique, Sled Hockey Foundation. Curling is sponsored by Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, while bumper cars is sponsored by West Herr Collision Centers. Other scheduled events include: a menorah lighting on Dec. 22; Gliding Stars on Feb. 8; silent disco on Jan 31, Feb. 7, 14 and 28; “Fearless February Skate” with BCBS; and Backyard Classic Feb. 21-23.
“As the official health plan of Canalside, BlueCross BlueShield is excited to kick off another fearless winter season,” said Julie R. Snyder, senior vice president, chief marketing and communications officer. “The Ice at Canalside has become a beloved tradition in Western New York and we’re looking forward to sharing this one-of-a-kind skating experience with our community again this year.”
Visitors can take the NFTA Metro Rail to the Erie Canal Harbor Station stop. Parking is available in adjacent parking ramps and lots.
Hours of operation are 3-7 p.m. Wednesday/Thursday; 1-10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Hours may change during school breaks and on holidays, as well as during inclement weather. Visit Canalside’s website or Facebook, Instagram, and twitter accounts for the most up-to-date hours.
Rates also are online.