Niagara Falls Blog

Experience Niagara’s Wonderful Winter Festival of Lights

The holiday season is in full swing and there’s no better way to spend time with loved ones than by visiting Niagara Falls together during the city’s annual Winter Festival of Lights. Each winter, Niagara Falls is transformed into a wonderland of sparkling lights along an 8km festival route that includes beautiful parklands by the Falls, Dufferin Islands, and the city’s surrounding tourist district.

This amazing winter festival draws over one million visitors to Niagara Falls each season and has become a cherished holiday tradition for countless people. Locals and visitors can expect to see incredible light displays like an illuminated Noah’s Ark, large Canadian-American flag, Canadian wildlife animals, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Dufferin Islands also features fifty wrapped trees and Queen Victoria Park is home to the spectacular Zimmerman fountain.

You can also plan your trip to ensure you experience the city’s weekly fireworks show and the newly-upgraded lights for the nightly illumination of Niagara Falls. The festival runs from November 19th to January 31st and is free of charge, although donations are always welcome and collected at the exit to Dufferin Islands.

Attending the Winter Festival of Lights is the perfect way to create lasting holiday memories with loved ones, so start planning your getaway today and make the most of wonderful winter in Niagara Falls.


Experience Niagara Falls in New Light

nparks9Since 1925, Niagara Falls has been illuminated at night with brilliant spotlights that transform the rushing waterfalls into a beautiful display of colour and light. And now the Niagara Falls Illumination Board has improved upon this amazing 91-year tradition with the addition of brand new energy-efficient LED lights that are twice as powerful as the old lights and use about 60% less energy to run.

The Niagara Falls Illumination Board houses the 100 panels of new LED lights in the Illumination Tower next to Queen Victoria Place and from a spot in the Niagara Gorge. The new lights are much brighter and less hindered by the thick mist created by the waterfalls, which ultimately enhances the illumination experience.

Niagara Parks and the Niagara Falls Illumination Board will also continue to light up Niagara Falls in special colours in order to support and raise awareness for a wide range of non-profit and charitable organizations. The schedule for these special illuminations along with the regular illumination schedule can be found on the Niagara Parks.

Visitors and locals alike can take in the illumination of Niagara Falls every evening as the lights will be on from 5pm to midnight from now until January 31st, with the exception of New Year’s Eve when they will be lit until 1am.

Experience Niagara Falls in all of its bright and colourful beauty by taking an evening walk down by the Falls or relishing the view through floor-to-ceiling windows in a spectacular Fallsview hotel room. The thundering waters of Niagara Falls are remarkable to see, and taking in their beauty at night is a truly unique and breathtaking experience that is not to be missed. (Photo Credit: Niagara Parks Commission)


Ringing in the New Year in Niagara Falls

far_newyearseve_post4Ring in 2017 in Niagara Falls at one of Canada’s most popular and longest-running New Year’s Eve celebrations in Queen Victoria Park. This year’s show features an all-Canadian musical lineup with Sam Roberts Band, Serena Ryder, and High Valley set to take the stage. The show will kick off at 8pm with music from local Niagara band James Blonde.

You won’t want to miss out on an unforgettable New Year’s Eve in Queen Victoria Park, which will also feature great food and beverage options and an outdoor licensed area. And at midnight, expect to see the sky over Niagara Falls lit up in spectacular fireworks, which are launched straight from the Niagara Gorge.

Start 2017 with a special getaway to Niagara Falls and stay just minutes away from the celebration in Queen Victoria Park by booking a room at a Falls Avenue Resort hotel like the Sheraton on the Falls or Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls-Fallsview, both of which offer breathtaking views of the Falls from floor-to-ceiling windows. You can also choose between a Fallsview Gala Package and Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra Dining Package, which will offer unforgettable New Year’s Eve experiences just steps from Niagara Falls.

Make 2017 a great year  from the get-go and start planning your New Year’s Eve in Niagara Falls today!


Niagara Falls on Screen

normajeanbeautyNiagara Falls is a breathtaking sight to behold, so it’s no surprise that over the years it has served as the backdrop and setting for a number of scenes in movies and television shows. Here are six times Niagara Falls has appeared on screen that are definitely worth a watch:

Superman II – This 1980 sequel to Superman starring Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder sees Superman saving a little boy from falling into Niagara Falls down by the brink at Table Rock.

Niagara – This film noir thriller was a 1953 box office hit starring Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten in which two couples are on their honeymoon in Niagara Falls and get wrapped up in murder. Marilyn Monroe stayed in the Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls hotel while shooting this film and the “Marilyn Room” is still available to stay in today.

The Whole Nine Yards – The final scene of this 2000 Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry film has a newlywed couple played by Perry and Natasha Henstridge dancing on a hotel balcony (at the Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls hotel) overlooking Niagara Falls.

“Niagara” Episode of The Office – Jim and Pam – two of The Office’s main characters – have their long-awaited wedding in Niagara Falls and get married on board the Maid of the Mist boat.

Wonderfalls TV series This television show about a recent college graduate working in a Niagara Falls, New York gift shop aired on Fox in 2004, but was cancelled after 13 episodes despite its good critical reception.

Bruce Almighty – The film’s main character Bruce Nolan, played by Jim Carrey, is a struggling tv reporter and in one scene is reporting from on board the famous Maid of the Mist boat.

Niagara Falls has appeared on screen many times over the years, with the thundering waters never failing to serve as an incredible backdrop for movies and television shows. Experience some of Niagara’s best scenes by checking out the movies and television shows on this list, and make sure to keep an eye out for plenty more Niagara Falls screen time in the future. 


Car Insurance Tips for the United States and Canada

nfhblog8When many people decide that they’re ready to take a trip to Niagara Falls the most logical way to get there is by car. It’s a destination that’s easily reached from most of the eastern seaboard of the United State and is an easy drive from most of eastern Canada as well. Plus, family road trips are always great experiences and allow you to take in the sights and sounds of the countryside.

However, when crossing an international border with your car, there are a few extra tasks that must be done to be certain you’re in compliance with each country’s auto insurance laws. While the requirements for the United States and Canada aren’t very different from each other these are a few things that you’ll need to know and need to put into motion early enough so your trip is not affected.

Coverage Requirements

Both the United States and Canada require liability and comprehensive collision coverage. Also, in most cases your existing policy on your car in your home country will provide the level of coverage you need when you cross the border. It’s always best to check with your insurance company to be certain, and most car insurance companies in the United States will issue a special, temporary card that you’ll need while driving in Canada. Canadian authorities do require the actual card and copies or email printouts are not accepted so you will need to allow for the time it takes for your insurance card to arrive in the mail.

For Canadians driving into the United States the rules are very similar. Your Canadian auto policy is valid in the United States for the length of your stay but be sure to check that your policy won’t expire during the trip and check with your insurance agent to ascertain that everything is in order so you can avoid surprises down the road.

Required Documents

In addition to your passports and birth certificates for children younger than 16 years of age, you’ll also need to bring all of your insurance paperwork, valid driver’s license, and your car’s registration certificate. Both Canadian and United States authorities have the right to check these documents, especially if they may think the car is stolen. Always be polite and provide any documents requested.

For people traveling from countries other than the United States or Canada you may need an International Driving Permit, and some states require this of Canadian citizens. Check this website to see if you’ll need an IDP.

In Case of an Accident

nfhblog9In the unlikely case that you’re in an accident while driving in the United States or Canada follow the rules that you would in your own country. Move your vehicle out of the way of traffic if possible and call both the police and your insurance company. Ensure that no one is seriously injured and wait for the police to arrive. Once police reports become available your insurance company will take care of the rest.

Driving in Canada and the United States is a great way to experiences both sides of the Niagara region but be sure that your insurance needs are taken care of well before you leave. After that, relax and enjoy your trip of a lifetime.


Rock Climbing in Niagara Falls

nfhblog6While the Niagara Escarpment is one of the most unique geological features in the world one of the things it’s not famous for its climbable walls and rock faces. The area is generally flat which is great for hikers but if you have a climber in your midst he or she might feel a bit disappointed.

However, that’s not to say that your climber has to go away empty chalk handed. In order to appease the growing number of local climbers and visiting ones there are now a few indoor climbing walls that can cure that climbing itch while you enjoy all the other things to do in Niagara Falls.

Niagara Climbing Center

If you’re itching to get acquainted with the climbing community in the Buffalo/Niagara area then the Niagara Climbing Center will feel like home to you. This outfit is generally open in the evenings from 4 p.m. but local school holidays see the climbing center open from 11 a.m. to accommodate the youngsters who are eager to burn off that “no school today” energy.

The Niagara Climbing Center offers 6,000 feet of climbing surface and 30 rope stations with a height of 20 feet. The expert staff at Niagara Climbing Center changes the routes frequently to stimulate their patrons and improve their skills that they will then use in real life rock face situations. Niagara Climbing Center also offers portable climbing walls for parties and they offer group rates and can help Boy Scouts complete the requirements for their climbing merit badge.

Peaks Indoor Climbing Center

nfhblog7Similar to their competition, Peaks Indoor Climbing Center offers 60 routes created by their expert staff and each is created with various skill levels in mind. All climbers from beginner to expert will find a route that suits their abilities. Lessons are available from onsite climbing experts and you can even get a mini bouldering demo and lesson if that’s something that you’re interested in.

Again, Peaks Indoor Climbing Center is great for groups, especially corporate groups interested in team building exercises as there isn’t a better way to build trust than to ask someone to hold your rope when you’re twenty feet off the ground.

Niagara Freefall & Interactive Center

If there’s one place in Niagara that will appeal to climbers and non-climbers alike it’s the Niagara Freefall & Interactive Center. Home to a 32 foot climbing wall that can challenge even the most experienced climbers this center also offers a free fall wind tunnel, laser tag, mechanical bull riding, and much more. Arcade games are available for the younger members of your family or group and a full service restaurant is available onsite.

Rock climbing as a sport has grown steadily over the last several years and you’ll find more and more people truly love to tackle sheer rock faces and have a great time in the process. On your next vacation to Niagara Falls be sure to allow at least one day for the climber in your family so he or she can indulge in their favorite pastime while the rest of you enjoy everything else Niagara has to offer.


How to Speak English in Canada

nfhblog7So you’ve got your bags packed and are ready for your vacation to Niagara Falls. Of course you didn’t pack a phrase book because they speak English in Canada, right?

Well, yes. And no.

Just like different regions of the United States and Britain have their own unique slang terms and words, Canada is no different. While you won’t find yourself puzzled too often when talking with a Canadian there are a few words that you may not understand.

So here’s a handy guide to some of Canada’s most popular words and phrases that you might encounter during your visit to Niagara Falls.

Eh?

Canadians use this term at the end of a question, like the way an American might end a question with “right?” Here’s an example: This is the best poutine in town, eh?

Pop

You might call it soda but Canadians use the word pop to describe those sweet, fizzy drinks. Here’s an example: Do you want pop or water with that burger?

Loonie

In Canada a loonie is not someone suffering from mental illness. It’s the nickname for the one dollar Canadian coin that features a loon as its emblem. The two dollar coin is called a toonie.  Here’s an example: Can I borrow a loonie? I haven’t been to the ATM yet.

Hydro

You know that thing that keeps the lights on in your house? You call it electricity but Canadians call it hydro. Here’s an example: That storm last night knocked out the hydro all over town!

Serviette

What you call a napkin the Canadians call a serviette. Serviette is also the French word for napkin, so this is one of those cases where French words have become part of Canadian English. Here’s an example: Can I please have another serviette? This one fell on the floor.

nfhblog8Toque

Another French word used in Canada is toque, pronounced as “took”, and is a winter cap or beanie. You’ll definitely need to know this word if you visit Niagara in the winter. Here’s an example: You’d better put your toque on or your head will freeze!

Zed

Nearly every English speaking country in the world uses this word, except America. Zed is how Canadians pronounce the last letter of the alphabet. So if you ever need to spell something out you’ll need to know this word. Here’s an example: My last name is Zimmer; it starts with zed.

Jam Buster

If you’ve got a sweet tooth you’ll want to know this word. It’s Canadian English for a jelly donut. Here’s an example: Let’s get some jam busters before we head over the falls.

Double Double

While you’re ordering your jam buster you might want to ask for a double double too. This is how Canadians order coffee with two creams and two sugars. Here’s an example: I’ll take a jam buster and a double double please!

Lines

Country roads are called lines in parts of Canada, especially Ontario. If you plan on taking a road trip during your visit this is a good word to know. Here’s an example: Which line will take me to the farmer’s market?

While it’s not absolutely essential to use these words it’s always fun to try out the local customs and language when you travel. Use one or more of these during your trip and see how fun it can be!


Free Things to Do in Niagara in September

NFHblog11Some say that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that might be true in some cases, but this September in Niagara there are several activities you and your family can take part in that won’t cost you a cent.

Saving money while on vacation in Niagara is important to most visitors so the city does its best to provide travelers with numerous free activities to make it easier on the pocketbook. This frees up money that you can spend doing special things that you might not have been able to otherwise.

If you’re visiting Niagara this September these are a few of the things you can do that are absolutely free.

Onguiaahra: Thunder of Waters

Taking place nightly through September 5 is the spectacular display of light and sound called Onguiaahra: Thunder of Waters. Held in Queen Victoria Park at 8:15, 9:15, and 10:15 each night a projection of color will be added to a special water feature in the park and the history of Niagara will be displayed upon it.

This is also an interactive experience as attendees can project their own light onto the water through the power of lasers. This is one of the most inventive and unusual events held in Niagara and, again, it’s absolutely free. In addition, between each light show the park has arranged for various bands to be playing to keep the crowd in a festive mood.

nfhblog12Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens

Another of the fun and free things to do in Niagara is a visit to the stunning Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. Covering 100 acres and featuring numerous species of plants the garden is tranquil and makes for a perfect spot to let your kids explore, have a picnic, or perhaps even a nap under one of their beautiful trees.

The gardens are designed and maintained by students of the onsite horticulture school there and you may even spot some of them learning the tricks of their craft. Guided tours are available during the summer months, but sometimes exploring on your own is best way to experience a garden such as this.

Ten Thousand Buddha Temple

Not something you’d necessarily expect to see in Niagara but is here nonetheless is the Ten Thousand Buddha Temple. Also called Cham Shan Temple this impressive seven-story structure is first and foremost a working Buddhist temple, but it also houses an interesting collection of Buddhist and Asian art.

Whether you’re interested in Buddhism or not, this is a great way to learn more about the practice and guided tours are offered on the weekends from June to October. This means that September is the perfect time to spend a few hours viewing the structure and the artifacts, all for free.

A visit to Niagara doesn’t have to be an expensive one and these are just a few of the free activities you can enjoy during September. Be sure to pencil these attractions into your itinerary and start saving money during your trip.


What Is Icewine?

nfhblog5The Niagara region is well known around the world for its incredible wines. Wineries dot the region and tours and tastings are among the most popular pastimes for most visitors to the area. All types of wines are produced here, but there is one variety that many might not be familiar with.

This is Niagara’s famous icewine. While it is produced in other parts of the world, Niagara’s icewine is likely the best known. If you’re a wine lover and plan to taste your way around Niagara, here’s all you need to know about this surprising and delicious wine you can try when you visit Niagara.

Icewine 101

As with many types of wine, icewine producers must follow strict guidelines from growth to fermentation. Only a select few varieties of grape can be used for icewine production, and these include Riesling, Vidal Blanc, and Cabernet Franc. To a lesser extent some vintners use Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

As with all wines, growing conditions must be exact and the Niagara region has the perfect climate for icewine. Mild summers and winters that aren’t too cold create the ideal environment.

How Is Icewine Made?

nfhblog6Icewine has a very distinctive growth and harvesting process, and you might guess part of it by the name. In late fall the vines are covered with nets to protect the grapes from hungry birds then the winemakers wait for the cold snaps to hit. A consistent temperature of -8 Celsius allows the grapes to freeze and begin to dehydrate. Once the temperatures reach -10 to -12 Celsius it’s time to harvest.

Since the grapes have dehydrated they don’t produce as much juice as other grapes, but the juice they do yield is much more concentrated and sweet. Due to the high sugar content, the icewine grapes can be difficult to ferment and this results in lower alcohol content.

Icewine is very sweet and is generally considered to be a dessert wine. However, many unique cocktails feature icewine as an ingredient, so you can experiment on your own or ask your favorite bartender if he or she uses icewine in any of their creations.

Where Can You Try Niagara’s Icewine?

Wineries all around the region offer icewine as part of their stock so choosing just one is difficult. The good news is that you don’t have to choose just one; winery tours often include several stops so you can taste the product for yourself and even purchase a few bottles to bring home.

The Ice House Winery is one of the region’s newest establishments or you could visit one of the first Ontario wineries to produce icewine, such as Inniskillin Wines. However, if you want to get a true feel for the industry a winery tour is definitely your best choice. Many of these tours can be customized for groups or special events and many include appetizers or meals to pair with the wines.

On your next visit to Niagara Falls be sure to explore the area’s wineries and try its most famous creation, icewine. Not only will you have a great time in the area you’ll get a taste of what Ontario is all about.


Where to Pick Your Own Apples in Niagara Falls

nfhblog1One of the best things about the Niagara region is its agriculture. Virtually everything grows in this fertile area which is great news for local residents and also makes for delicious farm to table dining. While most of these farms are large scale operations some are more of the family farm variety and one of the best things about these farms is harvest season, especially when that means you can pick your own fresh fruits and vegetables.

The country roads throughout the Niagara region are dotted with signs advertising a variety of produce that you can pick but the real treat comes as summer ends and the glorious weather of fall begins because this signifies apple season. With the perfect growing climate and conditions, apples are one of Niagara’s most treasured and profitable crops. Here you’ll find macintosh, red delicious, and empire apples in abundance as well as a few other lesser known varieties.

So on your next trip to Niagara Falls hop into the car and head for one of Niagara’s many apple orchards for a day of delicious fun the whole family will enjoy.

Parkway Orchards

Just north of the falls and popular with pickers throughout the year, Parkway Orchards has been one of the favorites in the region for years. During other times of the year cherries, apricots, and other fruits have pickers lined up but September sees the real action with the start of the apple harvest.

Their hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends but these times may vary due to weather. Be sure to check their website for current information. Parkway Orchards also offers picked and cleaned fruit for easy pick up, homemade pies, and other treats in their gift shop.

Windwood Farms

nfhblog2Another of Niagara’s most beloved apple farms is Windwood Farms, located just a little ways north east of Niagara. A true working farm in the sense that you won’t find petting zoos or hayrides here, Windwood prides itself on the quality of its product and their commitment to excellence.

Windwood grows over twenty varieties of apples and picking starts in September. A member of their staff will give you a quick lesson in the proper apple picking technique then you’re free to wander the orchards and chose your favorites. Windwood is currently only open on weekends but check their website for updated hours of operation.

Mathias Farms

Three generations of the Mathias family have seen this far flourish over the years and in addition to providing high quality berries and other fruits to local residents and restaurants their pick your own business really ramps up during apple season which tends to begin in September.

As a smaller scale operation their fruit is often picked out and sold rather quickly so if you want your choice of the best apples it’s wise to contact them through their website, check what’s available, and make an appointment for your picking session.

There’s little that’s more quaint and satisfying than picking your own fruits fresh from the tree. Apple picking in this part of the world is a yearly tradition for some families so why not join the fun on your fall vacation to Niagara Falls.