The Ultimate Buffalo Holiday Bucket List

By Karen Fashana

Published on | Last Updated

That festive feeling is in the air all around Buffalo. That means the coming hours, days and weeks are the time to visit and fill up on holiday cheer! From Christmas shows, musicals and more to holiday shopping and the coolest outdoor adventures, here are 8 ways to savor the joys of the season:

1. Drink a Tom & Jerry at Schwabl’s

The only thing better than a boozy drink is a WARM boozy drink!  A traditional Christmastime cocktail, the Tom & Jerry is a hot take on eggnog with brandy and rum. So after a long day of shopping, make sure you save a few bucks to savor a warm sip of this classic cocktail at one of our favorite spots – Schwabl’s!

2. Fairgrounds Festival of Lights

The Hamburg Fairgrounds have decked their halls with over 2 miles of Christmas lights! Take a drive through over 70 illuminated holiday displays and over 1 million lights from Nov. 24 to Dec. 30, 2023.

3. Poinsettia Show & Gardens After Dark at the Botanical Gardens

A nod to the holiday’s famous plant can be found bursting with festive hues at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens. Stroll inside the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens’ conservatory (with the thermostat set at 72 degrees year round) for Poinsettias: Dimensions, a classic holiday display of hundreds of festive plants beginning on November 18, 2023. This year, the Botanical Gardens has your winter date night all planned out as Gardens After Dark returns Nov. 24-Dec. 30, 2023 with Poinsettias After DarkPlease note that the Railway Exhibit will not be on display in 2023.

4. Ice Bikes at Canalside

Others ice skate, but in Buffalo we ice BIKE! Try out the winter sensation at the Ice @ Canalside, a 33,000 square foot skating rink on Buffalo’s waterfront, this holiday with a traditional skate rental or mix it up and try out a Buffalo-born ice bike. You have to see it to believe it! The ice bikes are the first of their kind available for public rental in North America. The ice at Canalside opens on Nov. 24, 2023.

Roycroft Copper Shop & Gallery

5. Shopping in the Elmwood Village, East Aurora, Hertel and Williamsville

Find something for those that have everything while shopping in the neighborhood boutiques of the Elmwood Village, Hertel Avenue, East Aurora and Williamsville. Unique finds coupled with unique eats await in Buffalo’s festive neighborhoods. Then enjoy a bite or a drink in each neighborhood’s many restaurants, bars and cafes.

6. Take a historic holiday tour

Take a journey throughout the decades as you tour some of Buffalo’s most historic sites all decked out for the holidays, from the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site’s Home for the Holidays (Dec. 1-Dec. 30, 2023) to Old Fort Niagara’s Castle by Candlelight (Dec. 9 & Dec. 16, 2023).

7. Santa on Stage

Santa raises the curtain on the holidays with festive performances of A Christmas Carol (Dec. 6-Dec. 24, 2023), celebrating its 40th year at Alleyway Theatre in 2023, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual Christmas concerts featuring JoAnn’s Classical Christmas (Dec. 8 & Dec. 9, 2023), Jingle Bell Jam (Dec. 10, 2023) and John Morris Russell’s Holiday Pops (Dec. 14-Dec. 17, 2023).

8. Hot Chocolate Hike

Explore Tifft Nature Preserve during a wintry nighttime Hot Chocolate Hike (Dec. 8 & Dec. 16, 2023), then warm-up with a delicious cup of hot chocolate!


Karen Fashana headshot

Karen Fashana

Lifelong Buffalonian with a crazy passion for this city. My job as the Vice President of Marketing at Visit Buffalo Niagara is a match made in heaven. Go Bills!