Niagara Falls Gets Bedazzled
Do you look forward to the holiday season every year just so you can see who in your neighborhood has the most incredible light display (and whose is just plain Griswold-gaudy)? Well, you aren't alone! Join over a million visitors from around the world with similar interests by attending the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls, Ontario. This year's celebration lasts from November through January 31, 2012, so there's plenty of time to dream and plan a fun getaway.
The magic of the holiday season gets no better than in the incredible Niagara Falls winter wonderland of stunning waterfalls, millions of tree and ground lights, lifelike animated displays and special activities which are part of the fest. Beginning in 1983 and continuing to grow larger every year, the lighting festival attracts long streams of cars and motor coaches loaded with lovers of the holiday season. There's nothing better than to watch your children's wide eyes as they marvel at the sparkling lights in wonderment!
Most of the displays are found along Niagara Parkway, known as the Niagara Parks Winter Wonderland. From 5 pm to midnight each night you can see displays such as: Enchantment of Disney Displays, featuring many of your favorite characters, including Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, the Lion King, Winnie the Pooh and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Queen Victoria Park is the location for these illuminations, which are sure to be a family favorite; Winter Wonderland Displays, which celebrate the Niagara Falls area, including the local wine industry and popular activities such as hockey, skating and skiing - look for the world’s largest lighted Canadian-American Flag, over 30’ high, as well as the blue and white, 40 foot wide cascading Zimmerman Fountain display; and, Dufferin Islands Displays, creations of Canadian wildlife including wolves, bears, moose, deer, beavers and buffalo amongst trees lighted by hundreds of thousands of LED lights - don’t miss the colorful Noah’s Ark display.
If you are under the assumption that this is a Christmas celebration only, you are mistaken, as there are displays dedicated to the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths. You will see illuminations throughout the area – it seems everywhere you go you will be greeted by another fabulous display, from a Santa’s Village to Candy Cane Lane! And be assured that every effort to conserve energy has been taken by utilizing LED lighting which reduces energy by 90%.
Did we mention that driving along these displays is FREE? Donations are welcomed, but they are voluntary! Another free festival event is the Festival of Winter Colours at Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse. You can enjoy browsing a show of flowers including azaleas, poinsettias, narcissus and Christmas cactus along with tropical birds flying through the building. This explosion of color and beauty definitely rivals the outdoor displays!
December through February, the TD RINK at the Brink offers outdoor ice skating in the most spectacular setting, providing views of the lighted Falls as well as the popular fireworks shows. Hours vary and you can rent skates – what a great family activity!
The weekend of December 3 and 4 offers the 28th Annual Festival of Lights Cheerleading Championship at Gale Centre, as well as the 13th annual Art by the Falls Christmas craft show, located at Sunrise Optimist Hall. On Fridays and a few Saturdays, Fireworks over the Falls are presented, lighting the skies in an almost impossible competition with the oodles of colorful lights on the ground. These fireworks are truly memorable!
It seems that wonderful food is a part of every popular festival, and this one is no different! Plan to attend the Jingle All the Way Dinner Show, a musical comedy which includes a delectable lunch or dinner served by the show’s performers. You can also attend a New Year’s Eve party extraordinaire in Queen Victoria Park which is televised across the country – this free event attracts 30,000 revelers! A Christmas Concert Series is held at Scotiabank Convention Centre to complement the festival. Look for this year’s performers Daniel O’Donnell, Ray Stevens, Lorrie Morgan and Ronnie Prophet.
Not interested in driving your own car around? No worries, there are tours available so you can sit back and oooh and aaaah to your hearts content, gazing at the wondrous illuminations instead of stressing about traffic.
Don’t just run off after you have seen the lights! Along with the Winter Festival of Lights, Niagara Falls offers so many things to do! Plan to take a winter wine tour to discover Canada’s burgeoning grape industry, take the kids to ride 16 waterslides at Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, take a tour on the iconic Maid of the Mist boat, and explore the Clifton Hill District’s restaurants, souvenir shops and family attractions such as the crazy Crystal Caves mirror maze. Lundy’s Lane is another popular tourist destination, along with Dufferin Islands, ten acres of parkland bridges and pathways.
For more information about the festival and to find out how to order tickets ahead of time to special events, check out the Winter Festival of Lights website. You are in for a once-in-a-lifetime treat while visiting Niagara Falls – bring your family and your camera to capture the amazing colors and sights. And Americans, don’t forget passports are required to enter Canada, eh?!
With any major event or attraction, creating great travel plans can make or break your experience. For the Winter Festival of Lights, making your travel plans as far in advance as possible is helpful. An option is to book a Niagara Falls Ontario hotel and air package deal. If you are bringing the whole family, never fear as we offer all the Niagara Falls ON CA discount hotels at the lowest prices. If you are budget-minded, check out our Niagara Falls ON Last-Minute Weekend Deals for unbelievably low prices.