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Nature, music, art, and beer banish winter blues

Painter Joseph Whalen’s work is discussed in a Hallwalls talk on January 16.


There is no shortage of festivals around here—even in the depths of winter. Prepare yourself for three fun-soaked fetes. To round out your experience and feed brain and soul, check out the extraordinary artist on artist talk at Hallwalls.



My Pick:

Talk the Talk: Esther Neisen on Joe Whalen

In this lecture series, regional Western New York artists and curators present talks on other WNY artists, living or dead. Neisen, a Living Legacy Artist at Burchfield Penney Art Center and an accomplished illustrator and craft artist, discusses Joseph Whalen (1927–2015), a painter and educator who spent his life in Lockport. Whalen worked primarily in watercolors and acrylics, often painting barroom scenes, landscapes, and portraits. He taught art at North Park Junior High in Lockport for thirty-three years, founded the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society, and was president of the Market Street Art Center in Lockport. Whalen’s paintings and drawings, taken as a whole, constitute a chronicle of life in Lockport over more than a half-century.

January 16, 7 p.m. at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center (341 Delaware Ave.; hallwalls.org or 854-1694)



First Day Snowshoe Hike

We probably don’t appreciate this wild treasure in the midst of our suburban development enough. We’re talking 292 acres of forests, ponds, and wetlands, literally in our backyard. At Reinstein Woods, families and people of all ages can explore and learn about nature, get free guided tours of the woods, and try other special programs each month, including ski adventures, walks on seasonal topics, and a fall nature festival. This First Day, ring in the New Year with a snowshoe hike led by a DEC forest ranger and learn how to prepare for any outdoor adventure. Hiking will happen if there’s no snow; snowshoe rentals are $5 or $2 for Friends members. Registration required. 

January 1, 11 a.m. at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve (93 Honorine Dr., Cheektowaga; reinsteinwoods.org or 683-5959)


Buffalo on Tap

The popular craft beer festival returns just when we need it. The 7th Annual Buffalo on Tap pours out good times and great beer at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. It’s like being on a brewery crawl, except you never have to leave the building to try the ever-growing list of your local favorites. Hit up Big Ditch, Blackbird Cider Works, Thin Man, Community Beer Works, Woodcock Brothers, and dozens more local, regional, and national brews. Responsible WNY drinkers will be sure to designate a driver, or have an Uber or Lyft lined up.

January 12, 1 p.m. at Buffalo Convention Center (153 Franklin St.; americaontap.com or 855-5555)


Winter Blues Weekend

These are the other kind of winter blues. The good kind. So, no staring into a SADD lightbox for you! This weekend, thaw yourself out and get your blood pumping with some rocking music at Ellicottville’s many funky/cool/charming venues hosting some of the hottest blues musicians around. The calendar is evolving as we go to press, so check the website for venues, lineups, and special attractions. Check out Eville’s many great eateries between shows.

January 18 through 20 at Village of Ellicottville (Ellicottville, NY; ellicottvilleny.com or 699-5046)


Larkinville Ice Festival

Enjoy winter-themed events, drinks, and food throughout Larkinville, where businesses, tenants, and friends create a welcoming winter wonderland. If you’re used to coming to Larkinville mostly in the summer or for Food Truck Tuesdays, this is a great opportunity to explore all that the community has to offer. This is a family-friendly gig, and kids (and grown-ups) are invited to go sledding (weather permitting), color, and play all manner of games. Events and vendors are organically added as enthusiasm builds.

January 26, 11:30 a.m.– 4 p.m. at Larkin Square (745 Seneca St.; larkinsquare.com or 362-2665)


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