The central Niagara Parks area boasts of the splendid Oakes Garden Theatre located at the foot of Clifton Hill. It is the gateway to the Queen Victoria Park which is the prime area to view the Niagara Falls.
Built on the site of the erstwhile Clifton Hotel, the Oakes Garden Theatre was opened to the public in 1937. It is named after Harry Oakes, a resident of Niagara Falls who purchased the land after the Clifton hotel was destroyed in a fire. Oakes started work on the garden and subsequently gave the land to the Niagara Parks Commission. Designed by Howard Dunington-Grubb along with J.V. Stensson and architect William Somerville, the garden is one of the top attractions in the Niagara Falls area. The Oakes Garden Theatre is among the best examples of a complex landscape architectural design in Canada.
The designers benefited from the natural landscape of the area which helped them to construct a central amphitheatre surrounded by shrub gardens, vivid flower arrangements, a scenic pond, fountains, sculptures, gardens with carpet bedding featuring geometric patterns and walkways. The theatre is designed against the backdrop of the falls and there’s also a passageway connecting two open pavilions that offer amazing views of the Horseshoe and American Falls. It’s a great place to take walks, sit on the picnic benches and soak in the scenery. Children too can have a good time running and playing around in this idyllic setting.
Besides being a popular spot for relaxing and taking in the view, the Oakes Garden Theatre is also a hub for various activities. While concerts are a regular feature, lately the site has also become a venue for corporate events, movie screenings and live television programs. It is also a popular venue for wedding photography as the scenic backdrop offers picture-perfect photos. The vicinity of the garden includes hotels, gift shops and restaurants frequented by many visitors.
Entry is free all year round. During summer, the place is abuzz with activity while the winter months are quiet with snow covering the area. In winter, there is a lights show at the falls along Niagara Parkway. At this time, the Oakes Garden Theatre also puts up animated light displays along the garden. For those looking to savour scenic beauty, the garden theatre is a hidden gem in the Niagara Falls area.
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