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Best Summer Festivals in Western New York

Buffalo is known for bitter cold winters. But we’re here to tell you this little-known fact: Western New York has some of the best summers around. The temperature is perfect, averaging in the 80s and not too humid. And with that breeze blowing in off Lake Erie, Western New York is really the place to be. The lovely weather inspires people to come out, and because of that, Western New York has some absolutely wonderful festivals. Here are a few that should be on your radar:

Allentown Art Festival, June 14-15

Tens of thousands of art patrons flock to Allentown for the second weekend in June. More than 400 juried exhibitors showcase and sell their art at the Allentown Art Festival, which began as a small art show in 1958. In 2000, the Allentown Art Festival was designated a Local Legacy by the Library of Congress, and as a result photographs of the festival are preserved in the Library of Congress. A significant portion of the funds raised by the festival go back to the region — approximately $15,000 annually remains in the City of Buffalo and Erie County economies.  The Allentown Village Society (the non-profit organization that produces the festival) donates money to local organizations and for art-related scholarships. In addition, $20,000 is awarded to winning artists who submit their work for formal judgment.

The Taste of Buffalo, July 12-13

The perfect festival for you foodies out there, The Taste of Buffalo, started in 1984 and is the largest two-day food festival in the United States. The purpose of the event is to showcase downtown Buffalo and the region’s wonderful restaurants.  The festival features over 50 restaurants, most of them local, and draws almost 450,000 attendees each year. There is no admission fee, and all food items can be bought with tickets sold for 50 cents each.  Food items typically cost between 2 and 8 tickets. Wear big pants — you might need the room.

Garden Walk Buffalo, July 26-27

People and plants soak up the sun in this self-guided tour of Buffalo neighborhoods from 10 AM to 4 PM. In 1993, Marvin Lunenfeld and Gall McCarthy took ideas from an urban garden tour in Chicago and applied them to Buffalo. After presenting the concept to the Norwood/West Utica Neighborhood Association, the first Buffalo garden walk was held in 1995. No admission is charged for the walks, which feature more than 370 private and community gardens across five miles, from Delaware Park to Downtown Buffalo. To download a map, visit the Garden Walk Buffalo website.

ChalkFest Buffalo, August 2-3

This year marks the 3rd annual ChalkFest. Founded by the 500 Block Association of Main Street, ChalkFest works to inspire the revitalization of downtown Buffalo — by encouraging people to come out and have fun! Kids of all ages are invited to “leave their mark, albeit temporarily.” Artists should reserve a no-cost 5’ by 5’ square on the webpage. The festival will also feature live music, games, food and vendors.

The Color Run, August 16

The “happiest 5k on the planet” is coming to Buffalo in 2014! The Color Run is an untimed race where runners dressed in white are doused in different colors of paint at each kilometer and again as they reach the finish line. The event was founded in January 2012, and there have been more than 170 events in over 30 countries. The price of the run varies between $30-$50, depending on when participants register.

Curtain Up!, September 19

Curtain Up! is Buffalo’s welcome to theater season. Buffalo has boasted world-class theater since the Erie Canal was a big mode of transportation and Buffalo was one of the strongest cities in the Vaudeville circuit — a pre-Broadway tryout town, essentially.  Today in the Queen City, there are roughly 25 professional theaters in operation at any given time. Visitors can find any kind of style — Shakespearean, musical, avant-garde and theater-in-the-round, just to name a view. The evening is designed to have three parts: a black tie Gala Dinner, a show at one of the Buffalo area theaters and a street party featuring live music, dancing and performances that goes until 1 AM. This is surely a theater-lover’s late-summer night dream.

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