With 2,800 cubic meters of water hurtling over the brink at 65 kilometers per hour – and that’s just Horseshoe Falls, one third of the trio that makes up Niagara. Add to that icy winds, mist, spray, snow and icicles, and you have Niagara Falls in winter – one of the coolest (both literally and figuratively) times to visit this amazing wonder. Fall in Ontario is beautiful but with the snow, it is transformed to a winter wonderland. Living in Toronto we frequently visit Niagara Falls and find that winter is the prettiest time to visit.
Some of Niagara Falls’ main attractions close during the winter months, including the White Water Walk, the Whirlpool Aero Car and the Hornblower Cruise. So, what is there to do in Niagara Falls in the winter? Here are a list of activities and attractions to enjoy from December through to February, to help you make the most of your wintery Niagara Falls trip. This is the top Canadian Landmark you must see in Ontario.
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Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter
Of course, not all winter visits to Niagara Falls are created equal. Conditions depend on which month you choose to visit and the weather to expect. Regardless though, remember that it will be cold, so wrap up warm!
Visiting Niagara Falls in December
December sees winter truly begin, though there’s a good chance that the falls are already coated in a dusting of snow and an arrangement of natural ice art. December is also a great time to visit Niagara Falls because of the many festive events taking place, from winter illumination displays, to New Year’s celebrations, to Christmassy activities too.
In December, Niagara experiences averages highs of 2 degrees Celsius and lows of -5, with approximately 12 days of rain (or snow).
Visiting Niagara Falls in January
January is one of the falls’ emptiest months (after New Year, of course), making it one of the best times to visit in terms of price, availability, parking spaces, free viewing spots and having the falls to yourself! Arrive early in the morning and you may be able to enjoy the falls in complete tranquility.
In January, Niagara averages highs (if you can call it that) of -1 degrees Celsius and lows of -8, with around 11 days of rain or snow.
Visiting Niagara Falls in February
The American Falls are almost frozen over, while Horseshoe Falls freezes at its base. Snow and ice covers everything in sight. There are plenty of things to see and do, especially for Valentine’s Day (February 14th) and Family Day (February 17th).
February may be the end of winter, but that doesn’t mean the chilly temperatures are letting up just yet. This month averages highs of 0 degrees Celsius and lows of -8, plus 10 days of rain or snow.
1. See the Frozen Falls
Perhaps the most obvious things to do around Niagara Falls in the winter is to see the wonder framed with snow, looking like a winter wonderland.
Sub-zero temperatures are guaranteed every winter, so you can enjoy Niagara when it looks most like Narnia. The mist and spray, plus the chilly winter winds, cover the surroundings with ice sculptures, while the buildup of ice over the falls makes it appear as if the waterfall has frozen over. (Actually, the only recorded winter when Niagara Falls completely froze was in 1848, when ice glaciers stopped the flow.)
What’s more, winter is the least popular time to visit Niagara Falls, with most the estimated 33 million yearly tourists visiting in the summer months, so you’ll be able to enjoy this natural wonder without the crowds. Low season also means more availability in terms of accommodation, as well as cheaper prices.
2. Watch the Fireworks & Illuminations
When the winter sun sets, catch the country’s longest-running fireworks series with the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights. Illuminating the sky over the summer and winter, as well as selected holidays, the impressive light show attraction is sure to amaze.
Top tip: combine your fireworks viewing with a stay at the Fallsview Hotel and you’ll be able to enjoy the display from the privacy of your hotel room, or drinks and dinner at the Fallsview restaurants.
In addition to the fireworks, there are of course nightly illuminations shows at the waterfalls, which take place throughout the year, changing with the season. Make sure to check the Niagara Falls calendar of events.
The Winter Festival of Lights fireworks take place every Friday night at 9pm, starting at the end of November and lasting up until December 20th. From then, it’s nightly shows until December 30th and then two shows on New Year’s Eve (9pm and midnight). Note that all firework displays are subject to weather conditions.
3. Attend the Winter Festival of Lights
The Winter Festival of Lights isn’t just limited to the waterfalls themselves, but also the town of Niagara Falls. Light displays can be found along an eight-kilometer route, which runs through Niagara Parks and showcases landmarks such as the Dufferin Islands and other Niagara attractions.
Look out for illuminations at the Zimmerman Foundation, Skylon Tower and other places, with themes such as the Canadian wildlife, the Canadian-American flag, Noah’s Art and more.
Catch the opening ceremony in Queen Victoria Park, the Sparkle Light Awards, the Toronto Power Generating Station Light Show and the Niagara Falls New Year’s Eve Concert – all of which channel the magic of the festive season through the Winter Festival of Lights.
The Winter Festival of Lights runs between mid-November and mid-January, though the exact dates may change each year. Check the Niagara Falls Tourism website for the most up-to-date information.
4. Ring in the New Year in Queen Victoria Park
Speaking of New Year’s Eve, you can welcome the changing of the calendar at midnight by joining the free concert held in Queen Victoria Park (yes, free!). In addition to the fireworks and festivities mentioned above, there are also food and drink stalls, and musical acts (2019 includes names such as Walk Off the Earth and Bryan Adams).
5. Sip a Glass of Vino at the Niagara Icewine Gala
Swill fine wines, marvel at beautiful ice sculptures and nosh on authentic Canadian dishes served up by top chefs at the annual Niagara Icewine Gala. With 25 years of history and around 35 wineries showcasing their award-winning products, this culinary event is perfect for the foodie traveler.
Tickets to the Niagara Icewine Gala cost CAD199, but there are also different pass options available. If you can’t make gala night, enjoy other icewine events and tastings (including the Snow Globe Soiree) with a Discovery Pass for the Niagara Icewine Festival.
What is Icewine?
Icewine is a special type of dessert wine made from grapes that have frozen on the vine. This phenomenon changes the taste of the wine, as the sugars and the other dissolved solids don’t freeze, but the water does. This makes for a more concentrated, super-sweet flavor. The Niagara Ice Wine Festival is a great event to visit to try all the fabulous Niagara Ice Wine.
Icewine is rare and expensive, due to the risks involved in making it (ensuring frost at the right time and picking the grapes at the right time). Therefore it’s no surprise that icewine regions are limited and Canada is one of its biggest producers (and around 75% of Canada’s ice wine comes from Ontario).
6. Journey Behind the Falls
One of Niagara Falls’ best attractions, Journey Behind the Falls is open all year round, so you can still enjoy this activity in the chilly winter months.
Offering a completely different perspective to Horseshoe Falls, this self-guided walk lasts for around an hour and descends into 130-year-old tunnels and caves, to take you – literally – behind (and pretty much under!) the falls.
Feel the power of the falls plummeting down, then take in the best views at the observation deck at the end of the tunnel, right at the foot of the waterfall (make sure you’re wearing your souvenir poncho – you’re likely to get a little wet). You can pre book your Journey Behind the Falls tickets here.
Tickets for Journey Behind the Falls cost CAD14 for adults (over 13 years old) and CAD9 for children between the ages of six and 12 years old (children under five go free). Opening hours are 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, to 7pm on Saturdays and to 4.30pm on Sundays. Note that the lower deck is closed during the winter.
7. Celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th
Niagara Falls doesn’t just feel festive in December and January, but also romantic in February, making it an excellent choice for spending Valentine’s Day with a loved one. Pre book your romantic scenic airplane tour with champagne here.
The Fallsview Hotel is the ideal location for a romantic break, where you can sip glasses of bubbly while admiring views of the falls, indulge in couples’ treatments at the spa, then tuck into dinner by candlelight at the hotel’s restaurant.
8. Celebrate Family Day on February 17th
Not to be left out, enjoy a fun trip with the kids a few days after Valentine’s Day, as Niagara Falls celebrates February 17th as Family Day. You can also stay at Great Wolf Lodge and make a weekend of it. Check here for the best prices.
Family-friendly Niagara Falls attractions to head to on Family Day include Fallsview Indoor Waterpark (North America’s largest indoor water park), Waves Indoor Waterpark, and Niagara’s Fury – a 4D show that brings the story of Niagara Falls to life for kids of all ages.
9. Have a Flurry in the Fallsview Casino
If you’re looking to get out of the freezing cold for a few hours (and if you’re feeling particularly lucky), then pay a visit to the Fallsview Casino. Whether you opt for slot machine or roulette wheel, a few rounds are a lot of fun.
Make sure you have photo ID on you, as the age requirement for gambling and getting into casinos is 19 years old.
10. Take in 360-Degree Views at the Skylon Tower
One of the best places to take in Niagara’s waterfall views during any season is at the 775-foot Skylon Tower, which doubles both as a viewing platform attraction, as well as revolving restaurant that makes a 360-degree circuit every hour.
It’s a thrilling glass elevator ride up to the top, where access to the observation deck is included in your meal (although you can just opt for the observation deck if you’d rather). From here, you can see Canadian Horseshoe Falls, The American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls with visibility extending up to 80 miles on a clear day – although in winter it’s likely to be less, depending on weather.
There are two restaurant options: the Revolving Dining Room (award-winning continental cuisine) and the Summit Suite Restaurant (family-friendly and more affordable). As you may expect, the restaurants can be a little pricey, with the Summit Suite being the more reasonable of the two, but they certainly have the views to justify the prices listed on the menu! Pre book your Skyon Observation tickets here.
Tickets for the observation deck start at CAD16.24 for adults (over 13 years old) and CAD10.44 for children aged four to 12 years old (kids under 4 go free). There are also packages that include a day/night pass, the 4D Legends of Niagara movie and combination of all Skylon Tower’s attractions.
11. Warm Up in the Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory
Another great indoor attraction that’s kept at comfortable temperatures is the Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory, which offers a welcome retreat and remedy to the sub-zero temperatures outside.
After stepping out of Narnia, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another fairytale world as over 2,000 butterflies numbering 45 different species dance around you (and if you’re patient and calm enough – may even land on you). This attraction is also ideal for curious children who love to get in touch with nature. Pre book your Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory tickets here.
Tickets for the Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory cost CAD16 for adults over 13 years old and CAD10.25 for children between the ages of six and 12 (children under five go free). The conservatory is open 10am to 5pm daily.
Where To Stay in Niagara Falls
Visiting Niagara Falls in the winter is much cheaper than during the summer to stay overnight at the hotels by the Falls. A hotel with a view is highly recommended.
Marriott Fallsview Hotel and Spa: This is the closest hotel to the falls. It has 432 Fallsview guest rooms overlooking Niagara Falls. They also have 2-room family suites to name a few. Check out the hotel reviews.
Sheraton on the Falls Hotel: is located directly across Niagara Falls providing the best Falls’ views. Check out the hote reviews.
Embassy Suites Fallsview: Every stay includes a full buffet cooked-to-order breakfast, as well as their evening reception including alcoholic beverages. You can dine overlooking the Falls at Keg Steakhouse & Bar. Check out the hotel reviews.
Hilton Hotel and Suites: is connected to the Fallsview Casino by an indoor glass walkway. It has an indoor pool and 3 on-site restaurants. Check out the hotel reviews.
How to Get to Niagara Falls From Toronto
The easiest way to get to Niagara Falls from Toronto is to drive on your own. If you don’t have access to a car or would rather leave the driving to someone else, you can book a guided bus tours from Toronto. Here are some options for Niagara Falls tours from Toronto.
Other Things to do at Niagara Falls in Winter
Do you agree with these suggestions of Niagara Falls attractions to visit during the winter months? Have you visited Niagara Falls during December, January, or February? Or are you considering a “winter wonderland” trip to this world wonder during the most festive (and chilly) time of the year, and found this list super-helpful? Let us know in the comments below.