by Carolyn Batt

One of my favorite annual traditions growing up in Western New York was going to the Festival of Lights which used to take place in Niagara Falls. Now, Erie County has revived that tradition with the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights in Hamburg, a 20 minute drive south of Buffalo.

Taking place at the fairgrounds that thousands of flock to in August for the Erie County Fair, this festival is a combination of sights, sounds and experiences. There are plenty of indoor, outdoor and in-car activities.

You begin by entering a lighted winter wonderland pathway in your car. This one-mile stretch features unique light displays—everything from Santa on a surfboard to a canopy of lights over your car. At the end, you can park and enter the “North Pole” with Santa’s shops, a midway for children, lightshows, and reindeer sleigh rides.

While most of the activities are geared for children, there were a lot of young couples and adults there as well.

The Festival of Lights is open nightly through January 2nd (with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), from 5:30-9:30pm.

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by Karen Huefner

I’m always looking for new ways to experience Christmas year after year. Between the shopping, decorating and cookie-baking I feel like there’s little time for anything else! Don’t get me wrong, it’s imperative I watch ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ and the Holiday Pops concert with the BPO is a must but I always crave something different. This year I found it. I took a ride north of Buffalo to Youngstown, NY, home to Old Fort Niagara. For two weekends in December the Fort comes to life for their annual Colonial Christmas by Candlelight event.

Having been to the Fort numerous times when I was younger, I was familiar with the grounds. However with the chance to experience the Fort in the evening, that was a whole new ballgame. I arrived at the park around 8pm, sun already set, snow on the ground and a crisp breezing blowing in off Lake Ontario. Ladies, leave your heels at home for this…boots are a must.

I stayed at the Fort about an hour and a half watching (and partially covering my ears for) the firing of the Christmas guns, mixing and mingling with the soldiers, sampling some holiday cooking and clapping along to the music. It’s about as close as one can get to experiencing an 18th century Christmas.

This is the last weekend for Christmas by Candlelight. Make this a new holiday tradition with your family. Oh, and bring your flashlight!

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by Ed Healy

It’s a classic cartoon that’s been a staple of network television holiday programming for generations. Now, in the hands of Buffalo’s Road Less Traveled Theater, it’s become a delightful homage to the music of Vince Guaraldi and the whimsical vision of Charles M. Schulz.

A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Music of Vince Guaraldi is playing in Road Less Traveled’s comfortable home in the Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre in downtown Buffalo through December 13th. The show clocks in at just under an hour, but it’s a sweet and satisfying hour that’s a welcome addition to the wealth of holiday entertainment options offered by Buffalo’s cultural community.

The Road Less Traveled version of A Charlie Brown Christmas is a celebration of jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi’s classic soundtrack. Accompanied by actress Bonnie Jean Taylor’s charming interpretation of the roles of Snoopy, Lucy and Charlie Brown, a jazz trio led by pianist Julie Arlotta gives Guaraldi’s music a vibrant work-out, complemented by a charming group of student singers. Children will be engrossed and entertained by Taylor’s silent film-like personification of the cartoon characters and adults will find pianist Arlotta’s playing to be a genuine musical treat.

Road Less Traveled Theater is located in the Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre, 639 Main Street, Buffalo. Free parking can be found to the theater’s rear along Washington Street in the M&T Bank lot. Just present your parking stub at the Market Arcade concession stand and the parking gate fee of $3 will be refunded to you. For more information, visit

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