Icewine is served during a street celebration at the Niagara Icewine Festival. - File photo by Allison Smith
Happy New Year! Don't you just love waking up to an entire new year, with 365 days of new possibilities, time with friends and family and fun to be had? Now that we're looking ahead - and settling back into our regular routine of work and school, you might be looking for something to do on your weekends.
After all, just because it's January doesn't mean you have to succumb to winter doldrums! Far from it - there are free and low-cost family friendly activities happening in Niagara throughout the month to get you out of the house and enjoying the sights and sounds of our region - and we've rounded them up for you!
Have a war history buff in the family? Take them out to celebrate the new year at Fort George's New Year's Day Levee and ring in the new year at Navy Hall. Celebrations kick off at 3 p.m. and include toasts, music by the 41st Regiment Fife and Drum Corps, and a canon firing to welcome the new year.
Connect with the LGBTQ+ community at Niagara Falls History Museum's LGBT+ In the City Presents: Coming Out on January 3. LGBTQ+ activists Falynn Shaw and Patrick Alexander are hosting the event for LGBTQ+ and straight communities alike and will share their personal coming-out stories. The talk begins at 7 p.m., with light refreshments to be served afterwards.
Don't quite have the budget for a tropical vacation but are desperate for an escape? A visit to the Floral Showhouse on Niagara Parkway in Niagara Falls will infuse colour and warmth into dreary days. Catch the annual Poinsettia Show until January 12 and see poinsettias, azaleas, Christmas Cactus, free flying tropical songbirds, and more. The Spring Show starts on January 13 and features cascading collections in baskets, pillars and pyramids as well as exhibitions of gorgeous blooms, orchids and exotic tropical plants. Admission is $5 for adults (13+ years) and $3.75 for children (6-12 years). Just up the road, there's the Butterfly Conservatory, a tropical paradise where 2,000+ butterflies fly freely through the air to wander among lush vegetation and trickling waterfalls. Admission is $15 for adults and $9.75 for children.
Niagara Falls - Photo by Niagara Parks
Of course, January always means the icewine is flowing in Niagara and 2019 is no different, with the Niagara Icewine Festival set to turn the entire region into a wintry wonderland for three weekends from January 11 to 27. Whether you bundle up and head outdoors to experience the street festivals (admission is free, but bring cash for food and drinks), do a winery tour with the Discovery Pass to indulge your taste buds with some wine and food pairings at 40+ wineries, or dance the night away at the Festival Gala with a Northern Lights theme, you're in for an unforgettable treat.
The icewine festival isn't the only event for wine and food lovers in January - you can find Winter WineFest in Twenty Valley on the weekend of January 11. Sip some VQA wines from celebrated winemakers, enjoy gastronomic pleasures from local culinary talent and see demonstrations and live entertainment. Admission is free, with featured ticketed events. Get your tickets on Twenty Valley's website.
If you haven't had a chance to see the world-renowned Winter Festival of Lights this year, good news - Canada's largest lights festival is on until the end of the month! This spectacular light display features more than 3 million lights shining along the Niagara Parkway, Dufferin Islands and Niagara Falls. Bring the kids or plan a romantic date and take a drive through or better yet, a walk around to appreciate the beauty of the season. Admission is free but donations are gratefully accepted.
Bonus: You can see Niagara Falls illuminated in all its glory in multi-colour light.
Whether you're a foodie who can't wait for the Icewine Festival, a family looking to brighten your day with a visit to tropical temps or a couple hoping to catch the falls in its winter splendor, take some time and come to Niagara to escape the January blahs - we can't wait to see you!