Niagara Falls is a once-in-a-lifetime experience in any season, but it takes on a particular magic in winter. With holiday lights, icy waters, and a dusting of powdery snow, the city transforms into a winter wonderland with an array of unique and exciting experiences. There’s something for everyone, from romantic experiences to family attractions to outdoor excursions. Whether you want to wander through an enchanting butterfly garden, explore the hidden parts of the falls, or enjoy the attractions of Clifton Hill, here are the best things to do in Niagara Falls on New Year’s Eve and throughout the winter season.
See Niagara Falls on your next family vacation
The city’s namesake falls are the biggest draw for travellers, and they’re no less spectacular in winter. The group of 3 waterfalls in Niagara Gorge are all visible from the adjacent park, including the large Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side and the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in New York. In winter, the falls are highlighted by sheets of ice and snow-capped rocks on the edge of the gorge.
Enjoy the Winter Festival of Lights
Ideal for the holiday season, the Winter Festival of Lights is an enchanting event that brings millions of sparkling lights to Queen Victoria Park and Niagara Falls Park. During the festival, you’ll walk through the parks to see the millions of coloured lights and animated displays, including interactive displays that are fun for the whole family. The festival also includes the Floral Showhouse, a Christmas-themed floral display with seasonal flowers in an incredible greenhouse.
Take the Journey Behind the Falls
No trip to Niagara Falls would be complete without the Journey Behind the Falls, a year-round tour that gives you unique vantage points on the stunning waterfalls. During the tour, you descend 38 metres into a tunnel that connects to 2 observation decks and 2 portals directly behind the waterfall. Though the lower observation deck is closed because of ice in winter, the experience of standing behind the massive sheet of water is no less incredible.
The Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory is one of the top attractions in the city, no matter the season. The conservatory has a climate-controlled greenhouse that’s home to over 2,000 tropical butterflies representing over 60 different species. Some of the primary species represented include the monarch, swallowtail, blue morpho, small postman, and the cydno longwing. You can walk through the greenhouses to see all the beautiful butterflies and vibrant foliage. The greenhouse has many other inhabitants to maintain the delicate ecosystem, including turtles, goldfish, beetles, quails, and toads.
Take the kids to the Ripley’s Believe It! Or Not Odditorium
Always a popular attraction in major cities, the Ripley’s Believe It! Or Not Odditorium is a great way to escape a cold winter day in Niagara Falls. You’ll see an array of quirky curiosities and oddities, such as a genuine Tibetan skull and the world’s tallest man. The attraction also has Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks, a 4-D moving theatre, and the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, a fascinating marine-life attraction with vibrant sea life.
See the view from the Niagara SkyWheel
People flock from all over to see the wonders of Niagara Falls, but why not take in the view from above? The Niagara SkyWheel is a towering observation Ferris wheel in the heart of the city that offers panoramic views of the city and the falls for a unique experience. Even in winter, the temperature-controlled gondolas keep you warm and cozy while you take in the sights. While it’s spectacular during the day, the Niagara SkyWheel is a must-visit for a spectacular vantage point of the fireworks over the illuminated falls at night.
Let your family cool off in the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark
When the weather outside is chilly, nothing feels better than splashing around in a balmy indoor waterpark. With temperatures set at summer averages, the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark offers a warm-weather oasis of water fun in the middle of a cold winter. The water park has numerous waterslides, a plunge bowl, speed slides, a massive tipping bucket, a full wave pool, and a children’s play area. For the adults, the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark features adults-only hot tubs and a sun deck.