If I was just a little smarter, I would have learnt something the last time I visited Niagara Falls several months ago. Niagara Falls = lots of mist = you will get damp! Now this wasn’t a problem in July in the heat of summer, a little bit of water to cool down was in fact refreshing. However, Niagara Falls during winter = lots of mist = everything freezes.
Niagara Falls as if not magnificent enough, transforms into a wonderland during the winter season. Everything is so beautiful, but oh so icy.
My advice for anyone visiting during the winter season:
- Wear waterproof clothing! If you go anywhere near Horseshoe Falls you WILL get wet from the mist. Then you’ll walk away and still be wet, you won’t get dry, your hair and clothes will freeze, and you won’t stop shivering. “Experience: the most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” – C.S. Lewis
- Do not park near the Falls themselves! Sure, it’s convenient because the car park is right next to them, however if you leave your car there for an extended period of time it will turn into an icebox. Once again, the mist comes off the Falls, then the droplets accumulate on their surroundings (including ones car) and freeze. If you desperately want to park close, make sure you’ve got an ice scraper in your trunk (the boot)!
- Make sure you get there before dark. During winter it gets dark at around 5pm. If you actually want to see the Falls in daylight make sure you get there early. Watch the sunset and stay until after dark - you will be in for a special treat!
Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights
The Winter Festival of Lights, beginning in 1983, is Canada’s largest light festival and runs from early November through the end of January. During this season there are an array of Christmas lights up in the park near the Falls, and the Falls themselves are illuminated – this all occurs nightly from 5pm.
It was incredible to see the Falls at night as it offers a completely different perspective on the attraction. The lights are located on the sides of buildings that are opposite the falls as well as at the bottom of the river valley. The ones on the buildings are exceptionally amazing as they shine through the mist above the river. The combination of water droplets and lights also made a rainbow appear at nighttime, purely magical.
I love Christmas lights, and I found it awesome that the light display is unique in that there were many Canadian themed lights – deer, beavers, polar beers, dinosaurs to represent Alberta, and whales and dolphins to represent Canada’s coastal area. The Christmas light display is run entirely by volunteers and although free, a donation is accepted at the end of the road in order to make the following years display even better. It was hard to pick a favourite, but for creativity and because we are in Canada after all – the winner for me was Noah’s Ark uniquely outfitted with native Canadian animals.
Niagara Falls is primarily a popular tourist destination in the summer season, but it should not be disregarded in winter. As long as you remember to dress warm (plus waterproof) and park further away if you don’t want your car to be covered in ice, then it is a worthwhile trip. Winter has the added bonus of turning Niagara Falls into a magical wonderland.