The best time to visit Buffalo is between April and November when the weather is warmer—it never gets super hot there, even in high summer. Spring and fall will have fewer crowds than summer, but the crowds never get too terrible. Fall brings beautiful foliage, while spring brings blooming flowers and the only-in-Buffalo Dyngus Day. Summer has the National Buffalo Wing Festival and Taste of Buffalo. And although the winter is cold, if you’re a cold-weather lover, Buffalo brings out all the stops for winter activities, including ice skating, hockey, curling, ice bumper cars (yes, really), and snowshoeing.
The Weather in Buffalo
Buffalo experiences all four seasons, but winter here is extra long, extra cold, and extra snow-filled, and summer doesn’t get too hot. Temperatures can range from the teens in winter to the high 70s Fahrenheit (21 degrees C) in summer. Winters see heavy snowfall, averaging around 8 feet per year. In fact, Buffalo is known as the second snowiest city in the U.S., after its neighbor Rochester. Rain is possible all year round.
Popular Events and Festivals
Buffalo has events and festivals throughout the year that attract locals and visitors, sometimes increasing crowds. The largest are in spring and summer, including the uber-popular National Buffalo Wing Festival, which usually occurs in early September over Labor Day Weekend and can draw upwards of 60,000 people, and Dyngus Day, a Polish-American festival around Easter. Also in summer is the Allentown Art Festival and Taste of Buffalo, the largest two-day food festival in the country. And even though it’s freezing, Buffalo’s waterfront comes alive in winter (mostly with locals) with an outdoor ice rink that hosts everything from classic ice skating to curling to ice bumper cars.
Winter is the off-season for Buffalo, with freezing temperatures and snow, but it brings out the locals who love ice sports. Hotel prices and flights should be more affordable. That said, you should only visit in winter if you like cold weather and winter sports like ice-skating, hockey, curling, snowshoeing, and skiing. It’s also worth noting that Niagara Falls in winter is truly spectacular, with almost no crowds. Just be sure to dress warmly!
Events to check out:
- There are various Christmas markets in November and December throughout the city, including Queen City Market, Shea’s Shopping Soiree at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre, Christmas at the Wurlitzer Craft and Gifts, Buffalo’s Women’s Gifts with an all-women lineup of vendors, and Christmas in the Country and Yuletide in the Country at Hamburg Fairgrounds.
- The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conversancy hosts the Winter Blast over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend in January, complete with pond skating and hockey, snowshoe trails, face painting, and cookie decorating.
Spring is lovely in Buffalo, as temperatures begin to warm up in late May (April and early May are still chilly) but generally stay below 70 degrees F (21 degrees C). Crowds are smaller than in summer as well, and there are several outdoor events. This is a perfect time to check out some of the many public parks in Buffalo and the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.
- March brings the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which goes along Delaware Avenue between Niagara Square and North Street.
- The Botanic Garden’s Flower Fest is a rite of spring. It's a family-friendly flower festival with tulips, workshops, visits from the Flower Bunny, and Easter egg hunts.
- Buffalo RiverWorks has Thawfest in early April, hosting breweries, cideries, wineries, and distilleries across New York State.
- Dyngus Day is Buffalo’s Mardi Gras, the annual post-Lent party that comes from Polish tradition. It always falls on the Monday after Easter and brings crowds as large as 10,000 people. While Dyngus Day is celebrated elsewhere’s Buffalo’s festival is the largest in the U.S. Expect a parade and a day full of parties across multiple venues and neighborhoods, traditional Polish garb and/or red clothing, live music, Polish food and beer, Polka dancing, and an obscene amount of pussy willows being waved.
- In May, there is the annual Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival at the Japanese Gardens of Delaware Park.
- Elmwood Village hosts the biannual PorchFest, a unique grassroots music festival where locals host musicians to play live music on their porches, in May.
Average temperatures in summer bring highs in the mid-70s Fahrenheit and lows in the 60s, with a pleasant breeze around Lake Eerie. Summer brings sunshine and warmth (although there are a few rainy days here and there), which means lots of outdoor events and festivals, and a bustling waterfront. Boating and cruising on the lake or river is a popular summer pastime. The revitalized RiverWorks and Buffalo Waterfront at Canalside host everything from concerts to fitness classes to zip-lining to rock climbing up the side of the famous grain silos. While things might be busier than usual, Buffalo doesn’t often have overcrowding, except at some major festivals like Taste of Buffalo.
Events to check out:
- The Allentown Art Festival has been around for more than 60 years. It celebrates Buffalo's art and culture over a summer weekend in June in the Historic Preservation District of Allentown, with artwork from dozens of mediums represented.
- June brings Buffalo Pride Week, full of parades, parties, and a festival at Canalside on the waterfront.
- The largest two-day food festival in the United States, Taste of Buffalo, is a food-filled weekend in the heart of downtown occurring annually over a July weekend since 1985. Food purveyors from across the Buffalo Niagara region charge between $1 and $5 for food and drink tastes, plus there is live music and other entertainment.
- Buffalo on Tap Craft Beer Festival is usually held every year in July at the Hamburg Fairgrounds and features more than 150 beers from craft brewers from across Western New York and food and live music.
- Buffalo Brew Fest has been happening annually in August for more than 20 years and now takes place at RiverWorks. There are typically more than 100 beers from around 50 brewers to sample, and all proceeds go to Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center.
Fall is a great time to visit Buffalo, thanks to cooler weather, beautiful foliage, and a top-notch beer scene. Temperatures can be up to 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) in September but can go as low as 35 degrees F (1 degree C) in November, and snow and rain are possible. You can head to the parks to see changing leaves, see Niagara Falls with fewer crowds, and enjoy one of the country's largest festivals, the National Buffalo Wing Festival. There are also typically about a dozen different Oktoberfest celebrations around the city.
Events to check out:
- Easily the festival that attracts the most out-of-towners, the National Buffalo Wing Festival is a two-day celebration of Buffalo’s most well-known food. It usually takes place over the Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend in early September and features wings in various flavors from around 25 local restaurants. Events include the Miss Buffalo Wings Contest, Bobbing for Wings, Baby Wing Contest, live music from various bands, and the main event: the United States Chicken Wing Eating Championship. Around 60,000 people come from around the country and the world for the annual festival, held for more than 15 years.
- Labor Day Weekend is Buffalo German Fest, celebrating German culture through food, beer, music, dancing, games, and more.
- Starting in mid-September and through the end of October, head over to the Great Pumpkin Farm on weekends for their Fall Festival, featuring a corn maze, hayrides, Boo Barn, and more.
- Take in the foliage at the Roycroft Fall Art & Antique Show, usually held in September or October. Visitors can browse and buy art, pet alpacas, hear live music, and observe demonstrations like glass blowing. Food trucks are on-site for snacks and drinks.