Winter in Niagara Falls has a unique appeal with its snow-white landscape and joyful festivities. There are several attractions that you can visit and experience during this time of the year.
Journey Behind The Falls
Situated at the Table Rock Welcome Centre on the Niagara Parkway, this attraction is the closest that you can get to the spectacular Horseshoe Falls on land. An elevator takes you 150 feet down into wide tunnels that are located behind the falls. There are two small openings in the Cataract Portal and Great Falls Portal inside the tunnels through which you can hear the deafening sound of the falls and see the water flowing down. Wearing your protective raincoat, you can move on to the upper and lower observation decks to view the falls. The upper deck is a great place to see the falls without getting wet and ideal for taking photographs as well. The lower deck which is out in the open brings you in close proximity to the falls. You are within a few feet of the mighty falls and the spray falling down on you makes you realise how close you are to the waters gushing down from a height of 173 feet. Since it is winter you can also see a blanket of snow and ice around you making it an incredible experience. The winter ambience with icicles all around and the water flowing down against the white background looks beautiful. In case of extreme weather, the lower deck is closed for viewing.
The Winter Festival of Lights
One of the best perks of visiting Niagara Falls in winter is the Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights (WFOL). Spectacular illumination displays light up a 5 km route along the Niagara Parkway as well as adjacent tourist districts like the Fallsview tourist area. It is one of Canada’s largest illumination festivals that turns the Parkway into a winter wonderland between November and January. The display of brilliant lights and colour against dark snowy winter nights is a mesmerising sight. Animated displays featuring different images and symbols create a wonderful atmosphere. Some of the popular displays that are an annual feature include the world’s largest illuminated Canadian-American Flag in the world. At nearly three-stories tall, the lights alternatively display both the flags. The Zimmerman Fountain animated display is another attraction that is two-stories high and over 40 feet wide. It looks like a cascading waterfall all lit up in in blue and white LED lights. In the Fallsview district, the WFOL attractions include the Spirit of Niagara Sound & Light Show–a musical light and image projection experience that showcases Niagara’s culture, arts and entertainment. Besides this, the iconic 775 feet tall Skylon Tower too is illuminated during the festival.
Illumination & Fireworks by the Falls
If the Niagara Falls looks magnificent during the daytime, it looks as stunning at night. When the falls are illuminated with different coloured lights, its looks straight out of a magical fairy tale. Add to that a spectacular fireworks display above the falls and what you get is a sight that you just can’t take your eyes off. The illumination and fireworks create a very striking picture against the winter landscape as well.
While the illumination of the falls happens every night, the fireworks over the falls takes place on certain days subject to good weather. The combination of the two is one of the major attractions of the falls and one that tourists look forward to. The illumination uses an advanced lighting system with xenon lights, a hi-tech touch screen computer and gelatin colour panels in the light projectors. They project a brilliant spectrum of colours on the falls in a certain sequence. Accordingly, the flowing waters show different hues of red, blue, green, purple and pink.
The fireworks are placed in firing tubes at strategic points around the Niagara River. The entire show is programmed and the fireworks are set off electronically. When they are launched, the fireworks erupt in a dazzling display of fire and light above the falls in the night sky. You can view this beautiful illumination and fireworks display from several vantage points including the Queen Victoria Park, the Niagara Parkway, the Skylon Tower or while enjoying a ride aboard the Hornblower Niagara Cruises Falls Fireworks Cruise.
A joyride that gives you breath-taking views of the stunning waterfalls as well as the beauty all around, the Niagara SkyWheel is a popular attraction in Niagara Falls. Located in Clifton Hill, it is Canada’s largest observation wheel that takes you 175 feet above the ground.
Go for an exciting ride on the climate-controlled, fully enclosed gondolas that you can enjoy in any weather. It has air-conditioning for the summer and heating during the cold winters. In fact, winters offer a delightful view which you can enjoy from the warmth of your gondola. As the wheel goes around, you can take in the amazing view of the Horseshoe and American Falls, the Niagara River, several other landmarks and the beautiful wintry landscape. The views are stunning both during the day as well as the night-time. During winter nights, the area comes alive with glittering lights as well as animated displays if you take a ride during the Winter Festival of Lights. The illuminated falls and fireworks displays add to the allure of the ride at night. The 8 to 12 minute delightful ride also gives you an opportunity to click amazing photographs of the incredible views around you.