Over 25 million tourists from every part of the world travel to Niagara and its attractions each year. For this holiday season, why not re-visit this nearby iconic destination during a time of year when its festive lights and holiday events truly make the region shine.
The CAA Winter Festival Of Lights (November 5, 2011 to January 31, 2012)
With more than three million lights and 120 animated light displays twinkling in the winter darkness, Niagara’s Festival of Lights is the largest of its kind in Canada. Highlights include the world’s largest Canadian-American flag and an Enchantment of Disney exhibit that brings the magic of classics like Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Pocahontas to life.
Most of the displays are along a 3-mile stretch between Dufferin Island and the Whirlpool Bridge but illuminations on Candy Cane Lane (Lundy’s Lane) and Santa’s Village (downtown Queen St.) ensure visitors are never far from a dose of holiday glitter.
It’s a celebration, too, with fireworks (every Friday night until Jan.27 with an additional show on New Year’s Eve) and performances.
Of course, the star attraction, the Falls itself sparkle in all their glory every evening until February 29th. The tradition goes back 150 years when 200 colored and white calcium, volcanic and torpedo lights shone on the natural wonder to honor a visit from the Prince of Wales. Today, there are 21 Xenon lights – each with a 76-centimetre diameter with a brilliance of 250 million candlepower.
One of the best vantage points to view the colorful glowing spectacle is on TD’s Rink on the Brink, an outdoor skating rink located by Horseshoe Falls. Debuting in 2009, the rink has been a great success, providing visitors an unforgettable way to experience the Falls in winter (Dec.1-Feb.29th. Hours: 4-9pm, Mon.-Thurs.; 12-10pm, Fri.& Sat.; 12-9pm Sun.).
Niagara Market (Nov. 25-Jan.1; closed Christmas Day)
This year is the launch of a European-style holiday market and festival that promises to attract big crowds. Over 80 vendors and artists are selling everything from one-of-a-kind gifts and crafts to specialty foods and decorations. They also have an impressive line-up of special events including unique a Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Rink, Santa’s Workshop, and Holiday Concert Series featuring The Canadian Tenors, Elizabeth Von Trapp, Aaron Neville and the Buffalo Philharmonic among others. The merchants will operate along 3 blocks of Old Falls Street, from 3rd Street (near the Seneca Niagara Casino) to the main entry of the State Park. (Hours: 11-7, Sun.-Thurs.; 11-8, Fri.-Sun.).
Taking in a show is the ideal antidote to a day of shopping and here are just a few that are playing in Niagara’s venues this season:
Jingle All the Way: A Merry Musical Comedy (Nov. 18 to Dec. 17)
The 250-seat log-cabin-style dinner theater presents ‘Happy Holid-Eh Revue’ featuring classic Christmas songs, carols, feel-good hits, performances and most importantly, lots of laughter. (8585 Lundy’s Lane. 1-800-467-2071)
Beyond Belief Magic Dinner and Show (Nov. 6 to Dec. 30)
Experience the magic of the season with Greg Frewin, a master of illusion and mystery.(5781 Ellen Ave. 905-356-0777)
Frankie Avalon & Susan Anton: A Classic Christmas Celebration (Dec. 7 –11)
The Seneca Niagara Events Centre showcases holiday entertainment at its best with these two timeless performers singing classic Christmas songs along with favorite hits. (310 Fourth St. Ticket Master: 716-852-5000.
For a more old-fashioned Christmas, venture a little further north to this always-charming Niagara town. On Dec. 2nd, visitors can take part in their Candlelight Stroll, which starts off with carols on the steps of the Old Courthouse, followed by a leisurely walk through the historic old town, and passing musical groups along the route. The stroll starts at 6:30 p.m. in front of the courthouse building at 26 Queen Street. (905-468-1950. www.naigaraonthelake.com)
The wineries of NOTL offer seasonally inspired experiences during December’s Stocking Days of Christmas. Sip and nibble while you stock up on gifts and bottles for holiday entertaining. Each weekend in December, participating wineries host different events including decorating gingerbread men at Inniskillin, roasting chestnuts on an open fire at Jackson Triggs, and holiday entertaining workshops at Peller Estates.(http://wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com/stocking-days-of-christmas
For more information about festivals and winter activities in Ontario, visit www.ontariotravel.net
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After travelling the world teaching ESL, she’s now 'settled down' in Toronto, but continues to indulge her passion for travel as a family travel writer. Her website/blog www.justkidstravel.com helps kids plan and get excited about their travels.
Located: Toronto Canada
Likes: family,culture,nature,soft adventure, photography,food