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Winter activities in Buffalo

Tue, Dec 5th 2023 05:40 pm

By Kylie Roberts and Elaina Richards

Special to Niagara Frontier Publications

The winter chill is fast approaching in Buffalo, which means so are the holiday activities. Buffalo is famous for its chilly winters, but that is no reason to stay inside! There is plenty of fun to be had around Western New York this time of year.

Whether it's for a date night, family outing, or you're just looking for something to do, this list will help you check some things off your holiday season bucket list.

If You’re Looking for a Fun Shopping Atmosphere

Holiday markets are a great opportunity to find unique gifts, supporting local businesses and crossing some names off your Christmas list. In Western New York, there are plenty of opportunities to get out there and find that special something for everyone on your list.

The 2023 Christkindlmarkt at Hofbräuhaus Buffalo

190 Scott St., Buffalo

Hofbräuhaus in downtown Buffalo is holding its third-annual traditional German market. The market will take place on weekends leading up to Christmas at the restaurant. This event will include visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, horse-drawn wagon rides, cookie decorating and plenty of shopping.

“I took my niece and nephew to the Hofbräuhaus market last year to meet Santa and we had so much fun,” Kaylee Edwards said. “I am really excited for it this year now that I have a daughter of my own. I think it was a better experience than any other ‘Meet Santa’ events I’ve been to.”

Edwards also said she is very excited to spend another year creating memories with her family at such a unique place.

Hofbräuhaus is teaming up with Hope Rises to put on the Christkindlmarkt this year. Hope Rises is a news organization dedicated to sharing positive and inspiring stories. The organization shares stories, collects donations, and uses those donations to give back to those in need through nonprofit organizations and direct donations to families.

The Buffalo Holiday Market

202 Ohio St., Buffalo

The Buffalo Holiday Market is a traditional European market with rotating artisanal vendors. It is free to come browse the market, but igloos are available for rent to keep warm and have a cozy place to rest your feet after all that shopping. Igloos are $100 an hour and seat up to eight people on a first-come, first-served basis.

There is more to do at the market than just shopping. Drinks from both Resurgence Brewing and the Winery of Ellicottville are available for purchase, as well as multiple food vendors.

If You're Looking for Some Outdoor Fun in the Snow

Snow is not everyone’s favorite weather, but in Buffalo, there is plenty to embrace. Outdoor activities are fun for the whole family and should always end with a hot cup of hot cocoa to warm up.

The Ice at Canalside

44 Prime St., Buffalo

An annual tradition at Canalside Buffalo is the winter ice rink. The rink is open Nov. 30 through March 1. Canalside offers outdoor ice skating, ice bikes, ice bumper cars and curling. Admission is $8 for those aged 13 and up, $5 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and under; there is also a $5 skate rental fee. The rink also has a concession stand that serves hot chocolate!

“My girlfriend and I have made the Canalside ice rink a date night every year since we’ve been together,” Nate Crombie said. “It’s a great spot because it can be romantic and fun at the same time.”

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance sponsors the rink every year allowing for its opening. The weather is the primary deciding factor for when the rink will be open. To stay informed on the rink's opening date for the 2024 season, you can follow all of the Outer Harbor’s social media accounts.

Sledding at Chestnut Ridge

6121 Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park

Stop by for some sledding in the park! The hill is open for sledding daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., pending weather conditions. There is also tobogganing on weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sledding at Chestnut Ridge is a tradition for many families in Buffalo, because it is free to the public and all it requires is a warm jacket and a sled! If the weather allows, Chestnut Ridge is also home to beautiful trails including the Eternal Flame Hiking trail. However, this is an unmonitored space, and it is important to consider personal safety at all times.

To Get in the Holiday Spirit

When you’re feeling like a bit of a Scrooge, it is important to remember what brings joy during the holiday season. Being around the people you love and spending time doing things together is the best way to kick the holiday blues.

Hamburg Festival of Lights

5600 McKinley Parkway, Hamburg

The Hamburg Fairgrounds is home to the largest festival of lights in Western New York. The festival runs select weekends (depending on ticket option) from Nov. 24 to Dec. 30. The fairgrounds include visits with Santa, a kids craft, a petting zoo and a scavenger hunt.

“I love it when the fairgrounds begin the Festival of Lights,” Daina Richards said. “It always gets me in the holiday spirit after a long day at work. My coworkers and I love to go together.”

Richards works for Hamburg Gaming, which is attached to the Fairgrounds.

For the full experience, including a drive-thru and walk-thru, tickets are $30 per carload on the following weekends: Dec. 8-10 and 15-23

For just the drive-thru experience, tickets are $20 per carload occurring on the following dates: Dec. 14 and 26-30. 

Holiday Happenings

Amherst Senior Center, 370 John James Audubon Parkway, Amherst

The Town of Amherst Youth and Recreation Department is holding its Holiday Happenings event. Taking place from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 15, there will be visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, outdoor igloos and bonfires, games and more.

“The main reason we do this is for the kids,” Jared Burns said. “A lot of them are looking forward to seeing Santa and coming to play some games with their friends.”

Burns works for the Town of Amherst and has been helping to organize the Holiday Happenings event.

WinterFest At The Kenan Center

Kenan Center Campus, 433 Locust St., Lockport

WinterFest at the Kenan Center will feature indoor mini-golf in the arena, visits with Santa and other guests, and holiday arts and crafts. This is a great opportunity to get the kids out and active during the holidays. The venue is professionally decorated to put you in a jolly mood and will feature live performances.

WinterFest takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 16-17. Tickets are available for purchase online for $15 a person, or $50 for a family of four (and $10 per additional person).

This is just a small taste of what Western New York has to offer when it comes to winter activities. As an area known for snow, there are so many opportunities for winter activities to continue to arise.


This is a Niagara University student-created piece completed as part of the course CMS 226A. For more information, contact the Niagara Frontier Publications’ managing editor.

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