Growing up in Niagara, you knew winter was just around the corner once you heard rumblings of the Winter Festival of Lights. Come the middle of November, it’s time to embrace old man winter as the festival’s light displays are sprinkled along the Niagara Parkway, Dufferin Islands and throughout Niagara Falls.
As a child, my parents would take me to see the lights as a Christmas tradition. We’d wander along the Niagara Parkway as my face lit up seeing Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters come to life in animated illumination. However, in all the years I had been to see the lights, not once had I attended the opening ceremonies until last year. From the cirque performances to the “Flip the Switch” ceremony, I was excited to be a part of that magical moment when it all came to life! The Winter Festival of Lights is bigger and better with their route expanding to 8 kilometres in 2016 as it travels the Niagara Parkway into the Dufferin Islands and surrounding tourist areas. With an extra $300,000 invested by Niagara Parks on lighting, programming and infrastructure improvements, the festival was able to complete an expansion in Queen Victoria Park this year.
Also to note, the Horseshoe falls are looking brighter than ever! The Niagara Falls Illumination Board unveiled the enhanced Falls illumination system on December 1st, 2016! The upgrades included more than twice the previous lighting levels, programmable lighting capabilities and a broader colour spectrum. As well, the newly enhanced lighting system will eliminate dark gaps while making it more energy efficient while reducing maintenance costs. More information on the upgrades can be found on the Niagara Parks website.
Niagara will be a busy place for these next few months, so plan accordingly and don’t miss out on all that it has to offer! Plan your route using this map, courtesy of the Winter Festival of Lights. There are various events during the weeks the festival is on, so be sure to visit Niagara Parks’ site and plan accordingly. Below are just a few of the events not to be missed!
Grand View Winter Marketplace
Enjoy the sights and sounds of the American Falls as you peruse the work of local artisans including handmade crafts, delectable treats and more. You’ll also find food trucks, games and workshops across the street for all to enjoy. Park at Falls Parking Lot for $5 and enjoy the free Winter Marketplace WEGO Shuttle from Table Rock Centre.
Deck the Falls Walking Tour
Enjoy a self-guided circuit and enjoy exploring over 10 venues with their halls decked for you to enjoy. Sample holiday appetizers and specialty drinks to keep you warm from the inside-out! You can either enjoy this on foot or hop on the WEGO bus between locations. Be sure to take a ride to the top of the Skylon Tower to get a birds-eye view of the festivities!
Holiday Display at the Floral Showhouse
The Floral Showhouse’s Holiday Display will feature poinsettias, cyclamen, azaleas, free-flying tropical songbirds alongside their Life on Display exhibit. If you don’t feel like going inside, at least take a drive by and enjoy the outdoor holiday decorations!
Toronto Power Sound & Light
Tune into 100.5FM on your car radio as you approach the Toronto Power building to enjoy a 5 minute light show synchronized to holiday ballads from the Trans Siberian Orchestra. 5-11PM Nov 19-Jan 31.
Dufferin Islands Display
This area is one you do not want to miss! The Dufferin Islands are abound with Canadian wildlife light displays of moose, buffalo, a 10ft tall 3D wooly mammoth and more. While most drive through this part of the circuit, you are able to park so you can truly experience the beauty on foot. Nov 19-Jan 31.
Will you be attending the Winter Festival of Lights this year? Have you attended previously? If so, what’s your favourite part? I’d love to hear in the comments below, and be sure to use #IveBeenBitTravel on any photos you post to Instagram – you just might be my next Instagram Feature Friday!!
A big thank you to Niagara Parks for supplying me with free parking while experiencing this event in 2016! As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
This article is focused on the Niagara Parks attractions. Additional information about the Winter Festival of Lights can be found online.
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