Winter Festival of Lights: Everything You Need to Know About the Light Festival and Fireworks

nfhblog3Traveling to Niagara Falls in the wintertime might seem ludicrous to some. Why not go somewhere warm, like a beautiful tropical beach and soak up the sun while the rest of the country deals with polar vortices and shoveling driveways?

We can’t deny that it’s cold in Niagara during the winter. Geography places us in an area that does see freezing temperatures and snow. But for the truly adventurous traveler a trip to Niagara during winter might just be one of the best trips of your life.

The city of Niagara has decided to embrace winter weather wholeheartedly and provide winter guests with opportunities summer visitors just won’t have — namely the spectacular fireworks and the Festival of Light that turns our wintery landscape into a kaleidoscope of colors.

So if you’re one of the brave, one who breaks the mold, and one who’s always up for an adventure, this is the ultimate guide to the fireworks and the Festival of Light that has made Niagara one of the most popular winter destinations in the region, and we don’t even have a beach.

Niagara’s Fantastic Fireworks

Niagara Parks has a long tradition of hosting Niagara Falls fireworks shows all year round. During the summer months these displays take place three times a week. During the month of November the fireworks displays are limited to Friday nights only however, once the holiday season begins you can expect fireworks nightly from December 24th to December 30th.

And, of course, there are two fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve, one at 9 p.m. and the other at the stroke of midnight. Can you think of a better way to celebrate than with a sky full of brilliant fireworks in a park surrounded by millions of lights?

The fireworks at Niagara Falls are a great reason to spend your Christmas or New Year’s Eve holidays in Niagara Falls. In addition to the fireworks there are so many other things to do, like sample some of Niagara’s best food, enjoy the indoor waterpark, and marvel at the way the falls change during the winter months and cover everything with a gorgeous layer of ice due to the mist. Plus, many hotels offer steep discounts during the winter so you could save money on your accommodations.

Also, when you add the fact that the falls themselves are illuminated at night, the combination of fireworks and colorful, cascading water is a sight to behold. It combines the awe-inspiring aspects of nature with man’s creative ways to dress it up in a beautiful way.

The Winter Festival of Lights

nfhblog4As if fireworks aren’t enough to entice you spend your winter holiday in Niagara then the other Niagara Falls light show should do the trick. The Winter Festival of Lights held in Queen Anne Park and Dufferin Island draws millions of visitors from around the world and is considered one of the best designed and choreographed lights shows in the world.

The light festival runs from November 27th to January 31st and everything is illuminated every evening. The park is filled with creative light displays including Noah’s Ark and the world’s largest Canadian American flag, entirely illuminated. The trees on Dufferin Island are wrapped in colorful lights making a stroll down the trails an utter delight. In fact, the entire trail of brightly lit winter wonderland is 8 kilometers long.

And if that wasn’t enough, the Toronto Power Generating Station is illuminated and has a sound and light show to accompany it. Your kids will love the illuminated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Clifton Hill and the three large angels adorning the Niagara Parks Police Building.

Other special aspects of the Winter Festival of Lights include the holiday walking tour, the fireworks put on by the Fallsview Casino, and, of course, everything culminates in the biggest party of the year, New Year’s Eve. Two huge fireworks displays will be held and Queen Anne Park hosts live music, food vendors, and everything else you could possibly imagine to make your New Year’s Eve one to remember.

Niagara Falls fireworks are almost legendary in status. Millions of people flock to Niagara during the winter months to take in the fireworks, the Winter Festival of Lights, and all of the other revelry that occurs during the holiday season. The popularity of these events has increased exponentially over the years and more and more people make this a part of their winter holiday plans.

But don’t just take our word for it. Book your travel to Niagara Falls today and take part in one of the biggest and brightest parties of the year.


The Ultimate Guide to New Year’s Eve in Niagara Falls

nfhblog1If there’s one celebration that party lovers around the world anticipate all year — it’s New Year’s Eve. Unique in that it’s not a celebration limited to a single country’s culture, New Year’s Eve is truly a worldwide event and a spectacular one at that.

While some might be content to spend New Year’s Eve with a small party at their home or by celebrating with friends and family, many people elect to travel to celebrate in a new place and in a totally different style.

If that sounds like you, consider choosing Niagara Falls.

New Year’s Eve in Niagara Falls has become one of the most popular spots in regards to this celebration and given the fact that it’s such an easily reached destination from almost anywhere in the United States and Canada and even some parts of Europe. It’s also jam packed with parties, fireworks and light displays, exceptional dining, and fantastic deals on hotel stays.

So if you want to do something completely different to ring in 2017 this is your ultimate guide to New Year’s Eve in Niagara Falls. Cheers!

Queen Victoria Park

Queen Victoria Park is the heart of New Year’s Eve in Niagara Falls and you really don’t want to miss it. Beginning at 7:30pm the park is packed with food and drink vendors, live music, and thousands of other revelers. The trees in the park itself are adorned with lights but you also have a fantastic view of the falls and the fireworks at midnight.

Even though it’s winter, expect to see lively costumes as people really tend to go all out for the biggest party of the year. So perhaps consider adding some flair to your winter wardrobe and add to the fun.

Exceptional Dining

One of the best things about New Year’s Eve, if you don’t count the champagne, is the chance to indulge in a wonderful dinner before the celebrations really get underway. Niagara Falls is home to some of the best restaurants and most respected chefs in the world. The only bad part is choosing which restaurant to make your reservation with, and you will want to make a reservation.

Windows by Jamie Kennedy is currently Niagara’s hotspot for farm-to-table dining in an elegant setting or you could try The Rainbow Room by celebrated Italian chef Massimo Capra. The Skylon Tower with its revolving dining room is also a great choice.

But remember, reservations! You’re not the only one who wants to treat themselves to an elegant dinner on New Year’s Eve.

Where to Stay

Many Niagara hotels offer great package deals during New Year’s Eve so it’s worth the effort to check them out. Packages generally include one or two night’s stay along with other perks such as special dining or drinking offers. In addition the hotels want their guests to have the best New Year’s Eve experience so they pull out all the stops.

For instance, Sheraton on the Falls is offering a package that includes dinner, access to the private party, and champagne at midnight. The Crowne Plaza is offering a package that includes dinner at the aforementioned Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra.

nfhblog2Light up the Night

The best part of New Year’s Eve is the fireworks. Of course almost all major cities put on fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve, but few rival the light show you’ll see in Niagara Falls. The falls themselves are illuminated and the fireworks display starts at midnight, as one would expect.

While you could watch the fireworks from your hotel room with a view of the falls, why not really get in on the action? The view from the Skylon Tower is magnificent or you could join the thousands of other party goers at Queen Victoria park. In addition to providing a great view of the falls and the fireworks it’s where all the other action takes place.

Niagara’s Nightclubs

If you prefer to stay out of the cold and dance the night away any of Niagara’s popular nightclubs will fit the bill. Dragonfly, located in the Fallsview Casino Resort, is very trendy and its Asian theme really makes it stand out. You can also try Rumours for great DJs and excellent service.

Club Mardi Gras is probably the most popular club in town and, as you might have guessed, it’s almost as if you’ve stepped onto Bourbon Street. Great drinks and a great vibe means your New Year’s Eve here will be one for the record books.

New Year’s Eve in Niagara Falls is truly an event you won’t want to miss. Don’t delay and get those travel arrangements booked, hotel stays confirmed, and dinner reservations made and start 2017 off in a really big way.


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.