In Niagara, winter is a time of contrasts. It is a season of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One day the earth is covered with a pristine blanket of virgin snow, everything exuding a serene innocence and elegance. But the next day, mild weather brings melting and slush. Now everything is drab in the winter monotone of dreary brown.
Yet many of our best memories of Niagara are from the winter season. And there is no better place to experience winter than at Niagara Falls itself, which is set like a jewel in frozen splendour. The constant mist rising from the roaring cascades coats and freezes on every tree twig, every lamp post, every railing, creating a sparkling surreal wonderland it is like a magical kingdom where everything is made of crystal. It is a photographer’s delight with sunlight dancing, shimmering, and bending in wonderful prismatic effects from the ice coatings. And the effect is greatly enhanced by the backdrop of the mighty Falls and its thunder. There is mother wonderful sight to behold at the Falls, although it does not occur every year. Warm spells accompanied by strong westerly or southwesterly winds can break up the ice that has formed along the shores of Lake Erie and send huge ice floes racing down the Niagara River. The ice floes are broken into smaller pieces by the rapids and tumble over the Falls. When the ice reaches the eddy current near the Maid of the Mist docks, it is forced toward the Canadian shore where it jams. As the river brings more and more ice, the mass grows like a giant log jam with the crevassed appearance of a glacier. Once the winds subside, the water level drops leaving the ice mass suspended like a bridge.
Winter Festival of Lights
Winter also forms the stage for the Festival of Lights, which usually runs from late November to mid January and features colourful lighting displays as well as entertainment at an outdoor stage near the Falls. Combined with the nightly illumination of the Falls, it transforms the area into a spectacular palette of colour.
If you are going to see the falls, I recommend taking a trip up in winter. Yes, you heard me, winter. The grounds around Niagara Falls are transformed into a winter wonderland. Dozens and dozens of displays of lights depict Disney scenes, if you look to the left you can see the outlines of Disney characters, glistening with hundreds of Christmas lights. To the right you might see a small path flanked by lit up candy canes. Everywhere you look there are more beautiful lights and paths to walk on. The gentle roar of the falls perfects this beautiful view.
We have been to Niagara Falls in all seasons. Do not miss the falls at night, the lighting makes the water seem even more powerful. I cannot imagine anyone trying to go over the falls in a barrel, and am glad that this practice has been stopped. Winter would be my second favorite choice of viewing the falls. The ice on the surrounding rocks, makes the water sparkle brightly.