Singing in the Snow: Where to Go Caroling in Buffalo

By Michelle Kearns

Published on | Last Updated

Sing on: Holiday songs, warm hearts. Caroling options continue around Buffalo.

When the Buffalo Girlchoir gathers to belt out holiday hits like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” founding director Kathleen Bassett stops focusing on musical precision and has fun with the joyful mishmash of girl singers who come out for the caroling gigs that start Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023.

“When it’s caroling, it’s all about the spirit of the season and having a really good time,” she said. One of her favorite memories? The caroling during the tree lighting at the Martin House as the girls sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Buffalo Girlchoir at Alice, Ever After Books / Photo: Alice, Ever After

“There’s always the, ‘Oooh’ from the crowd when the lights and the carols come together and it’s dark outside and there’s a nip in the air and people have their hot chocolates–,” said Bassett. “It’s like that magical moment from when you were a child and it just makes everybody feel all warm and fuzzy inside.”

The nonprofit Buffalo Girlchoir, founded nine years ago, now has 90 singers in five age groups. “We are about empowering girls to use their voices,” said Bassett. When some members of the group started caroling for local holiday programs about five years ago, they joined an eclectic array of caroling options – from the fifth-annual Night of Bad Caroling on Friday, Dec. 1 to East Aurora’s annual public Carolcade song gathering Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023.

Catch the holiday spirit with some caroling from the local lineup includes:

Parkside Tree Lighting and Holiday Market, at the former Buffalo Zoo entrance, 300 Parkside, Buffalo, begins Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023 at 5:30 p.m. with a half an hour of Buffalo Girlschoir caroling.

A Night of Bad Caroling, Flying Bison Brewery, 840 Seneca St., Buffalo, 6 to 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 1, 2023.

Tree of Light at the Martin House, 143 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo includes a holiday market, tours and Buffalo Girlchoir caroling for the first two hours of the program from 3 to 6 p.m., Saturday Dec. 2, 2023.

Buffalo Girlchoir Caroling, Alice, Ever After Books, 295 Parkside Ave., Buffalo, 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023.

Carolcade public caroling on Main Street, East Aurora, 7 to 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023.

More local caroling options to consider at the Greater Buffalo Friends of Music website at

Lou Iannone, founder of the fifth-annual “Night of Bad Caroling” at the Larkinville district’s Flying Bison Brewery organizes the evening into three caroling rounds with lyrics projected on the wall. The evening’s standards include what has become Iannone’s and the crowd’s favorite, “Dominick the Donkey.” “I put it on like an extra, just as a goof,” he said. “When I finally brought it up at the end, everybody was cheering.”

“Night of Bad Caroling” at Flying Bison Brewery / Photo: Lou Iannone

Iannone, who is also director of the Buffalo Heavies, a team of Scottish games athletes, came up with the idea for the evening because they wanted to carol and couldn’t find a place to do it. “The idea grew from there,” he said. “If I’m singing these carols and it gets me in what I call the Hallmark mood. You ‘see’ the chestnuts roasting on an open fire and you get that feeling and you want to be close to your family and you want to hug your friends. I think it helps set the mood for a, hopefully, peaceful holiday season.”

East Aurora’s Carolcade, now in its 51st year, has a similar effect on Victoria Sturman, the executive director of the East Aurora Chamber of Commerce. It was particularly gratifying last year to have her teenage sons come for the first time and volunteer to pass out songbooks before caroling with her.

“It was just wonderful to have high school kids showing up and just being in a really good mood and just being there and singing at the top of their lungs and just having a great time,” said Sturman.

As people gather – crowd is estimated at 2,000 people or more – songbooks are handed out at the free hot chocolate tables. This year there will also be a QR code people can use to call the lyrics up on their phones.

Sturman has noticed how the amusing songs, like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” always get more people singing along. “Everybody knows that. Little kids, old kids, adults, senior citizens. We all just sing it and have a great, great time with it,” she said. “It gets really loud and you can really hear that there’s thousands of people on the street singing all at once. So that’s pretty cool.”

Michelle Kearns headshot

Michelle Kearns

As a former Buffalo News Reporter, teacher & member of a university communications team, I love sharing stories about Buffalo & the unexpected people, places & happenings here. It is a thrill to make new discoveries, and take in the city - & the Cheerios air! - as VBN's new communications manager.