A Guide to the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls (2023)

The Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls is Canada’s largest lights festival!

Celebrating 41 years in 2023, the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights is running from November 18, 2023 – January 7, 2024. 

That’s 51 nights of twinkling lights, including 75 light displays and 3 million lights!

As an added bonus, you can also bundle up and get a hot chocolate on the Niagara Falls Hot Chocolate Trail during all 51 nights of the Winter Festival of Lights! This year also includes 26 nights of fireworks in Niagara Falls, so there’s plenty to see and enjoy!

The best part is? The Winter Festival of Lights is FREE!

Winter Festival of Lights Niagara Falls

This 8 km route along the Niagara Parkway, Fallsview Boulevard, Queen Victoria Park, and through Dufferin Islands is a surefire way to get into the Christmas spirit in Niagara Falls.

Animated lit installation and larger-than-life displays and projections light up Niagara Falls unlike any other time of the year. Stroll through the parks, take a scenic drive along the Winter Festival of Lights route, or enjoy the dazzling lights from any number of restaurants and hotels!

Be sure to stick around (or come back!) for the fireworks in Niagara Falls, starting at 8:00 pm on special evenings. Be sure to check out the illuminated falls, and follow the Hot Chocolate Trail to keep you warm and cozy.

Capture the magic of the holiday season at the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls!

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What’s happening at the Winter Festival of Lights:

  • 51 nights of dazzling lights!
  • “Sparkling Winter Lights” Falls Illumination
  • 26 Nights of Fireworks
  • Niagara Falls Hot Chocolate Trail
  • Santa Meet & Greet with a FREE PHOTO
  • Niagara City Cruises Light Up the Night Voyage to the Falls
  • Niagara Helicopters Winter Nights and Lights Experience

About the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls

Founded in 1982, the Winter Festival of Lights (also known as the Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights) has become Canada’s largest illumination festival. What has once been solely light displays has evolved to include markets, entertainment, and special events throughout its various displays. 

This unique winter festival was originally created to extend the tourist season in Niagara Falls, which was once considered a summer-only destination! This amazing light festival now attracts over one million visitors every year.

Providing fun for all ages with family-friendly displays, the Winter Festival of Lights expands every year. There are now more than 75 large light displays, dozens of trees wrapped in light strands, a 40 foot light tunnel, castle, and so much more!

The Winter Festival of Lights transforms Niagara Falls into a winter wonderland, and it’s especially magical during snowfall! A dazzling array of colours are on display throughout Niagara Falls, and my favourite area, Dufferin Islands.

You can find millions of lights and animated displays all throughout the Falls, between Clifton Hill, Dufferin Islands, and everywhere in between.

Dufferin Islands Display

The Dufferin Islands display is my favourite part of the Winter Festival of Lights! 

There are so many lighting displays here, including thousands of lights wrapped around trees, and larger-than-life Canadian wildlife like moose, polar bears, geese, wolves, a woolly mammoth, and a huge Inukshuk! 

Most people drive through the display at Dufferin Islands, but you can also park and walk around to enjoy the displays a bit more and take some great photos! While the trails are closing during the winter season, you can still get up close to many of the displays by the road.

Sparkling Winter Lights Falls Illumination

To celebrate the annual Winter Festival of Lights, a unique illumination light show “Sparkling Winter Lights” will transform Niagara Falls with movements inspired by winter in Canada. 

This includes a multi-colour light and water display, with displays including gentle snowfall, blizzards, frozen Falls, and the northern lights moving over snowy tundra.

The majestic Horseshoe Falls and American Falls will come to light every night with its tribute to the natural beauty that surrounds us. 

The Sparkling Winter Lights Falls Illumination is part of the regular nightly illumination of the Falls, with a special 6 minute light show projecting on the Falls three times on the hour, at 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm, and 8:00 pm during the Winter Festival of Lights.

Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights Hot Chocolate Trail

One of the best parts about the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls is the Hot Chocolate Trail! 

This self-guided tour leads you to delicious stops around the Falls.

Taste chocolate concoctions created by chefs, mixologists, chocolatiers, and bakers across Niagara Falls. There are 17 stops to pick from and 23 unique flavours to sip and savour – including alcoholic options!

What’s better than strolling around Niagara Falls at night, with twinkling lights surrounding you and a warm cup of hot chocolate in your hands?

Check out the Hot Chocolate Trail map, and plot out your stops on your visit to Niagara Falls!

Winter Festival of Lights Hot Chocolate Trail
Table Rock House Restaurant Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Santa Meet & Greet (with a FREE Photo!)

On select nights in December and after Christmas, you can get a photo with Santa (for free!) at Queen Victoria Place in Niagara Falls, right along the Niagara Parkway.

Meet with Santa and receive a complimentary digital photo to capture this long-standing holiday family tradition.

Location: Queen Victoria Place

Saturday, December 16: 6pm-8pm
Saturday, December 17: 6pm-8pm
Saturday, December 18: 6pm-8pm
Sunday, December 22: 6pm-8pm
Monday, December 30: 6pm-8pm

Fireworks at the Winter Festival of Lights

The fireworks in Niagara Falls during the Winter Festival of Lights are scheduled for 26 nights this season!

November: 18th , 24th – 25th at 8:00pm
December: 1st – 2nd, 8th – 9th, 15th – 16th, daily 22nd – 31st at 8:00pm
December 31 (New Year’s Eve) at 12:00am
January: daily from 1st  – 7th at 8:00pm

You can enjoy the fireworks from any number of locations, including an array of hotels.

My favourite spot to watch the fireworks is from the promenade across from Queen Victoria Park. The views are the closest and are the most unobstructed, and in my opinion, is the best spot to watch the fireworks in Niagara Falls!

Niagara City Cruises Night Cruise

Looking for a unique way to experience the Winter Festival of Lights and Falls Illumination? 

Light Up the Night Voyage to the Falls cruises are planned between November 18 – November 26, 2023! 

These special cruises take place during the evening hours (and they’re popular!) so if you want to see the magic of the Falls lit up at night, book your spot early with Niagara City Cruises!

Niagara Helicopters Winter Nights and Lights Experience

If you’re looking for an amazing view of Niagara Falls during the holiday season, Niagara Helicopters is offering their Winter Nights and Lights Experience during the Winter Festival of Lights from November 18th – January 7th!

These special flights take place from sunset until 8:00 pm daily during this time. Take part in the first sunset helicopter tour over Niagara Falls; the perfect way to soak in the magic of the season and the Festival’s shimmering lights from above!

Winter Festival of Lights – Things to Know!

How long are the lights on for at the Winter Festival of Lights?

The Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls is from November 18th, 2023 – January 7th, 2024. The lights are on from 5:00 pm until 12:00 am daily.

Can you walk the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights?

While you technically could walk the entire 8 km stretch (!) of lighting displays at the Winter Festival of Lights, I would advise against it. 

It’s cold and dark during this time of year and won’t really make for an enjoyable experience. If you arrive early, and park anywhere from Clifton Hill, Table Rock, or Dufferin Islands, you can hop on the WeGo! 

The WeGo is a year-round shuttle service to various points in Niagara Falls. The WeGo pass is included with Niagara Parks attraction passes, and drops you off at various attractions around the Falls. 

You can also purchase a 24-hour pass for $12/adults and $8/children.The WeGo Green Line operates until late evening, so you can hop on and off at the major Winter Festival of Lights destinations!

One of my favourite things to do is drive through the lighting displays at the Dufferin Islands and along the parkway. You don’t have to get out of your vehicle at all to enjoy the displays!

Parking at the Winter Festival of Lights

The parking lot most people park at when visiting Niagara Falls is at the Table Rock Welcome Centre. Parking, however, is $35/day flat rate. 

If you have a Niagara Parks Annual Parking Pass ($40/year from the date of purchase and valid for two vehicles in the same household), you can park here as a part of your pass. 

Otherwise, you can park at the Skylon Tower for $15, at parking lots along Clifton Hill, independent parking lots, or at the Dufferin Islands ($5/hour), if you want to get out and check out some of the displays up close and personal!

If you’re staying in Niagara Falls in the Fallsview hotel area, you can hop on the Falls Incline Railway down to Table Rock. From here, you can take a left to the displays near Queen Victoria Park, or take a right and catch the WeGo to Dufferin Islands, or bundle up and take a 20 minute walk to Dufferin Islands. 

What is the best time to go to the Festival of Lights?

Personally, I love visiting the Winter Festival of Lights in December leading up to Christmas. 

If you visit on a weeknight, it will be quieter and easier to drive around the Dufferin Islands and Niagara Parkway. However, I love seeing people getting into the Christmas spirit in Niagara Falls and enjoying the millions of lights on display! 

If you visit on a weekend, it’s just as enjoyable, but be prepared for it to be busier. Stick around for the fireworks display to maximize your visit!

The busiest times for the Winter Festival of Lights is the week before Christmas, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. 

If there is a recent snowfall, chances are there will be more traffic too, since it’s so magical seeing the light displays against freshly fallen snow!

Is the Niagara Festival of Lights free?

The Winter Festival of Lights is one of the best free things to do in Niagara Falls.

However, you will notice if you drive through the Dufferin Islands that there are volunteers collecting donations upon exit. This isn’t mandatory at all, but if you enjoyed the lighting display, feel free to donate $5 or $10 to them so they can keep the annual event running for years to come!

We always donate $10/carload every year when we visit. It’s a beautiful experience for the entire family and is definitely worth donating to!

Be sure to stop by the Floral Showhouse to marvel at the stunning Annual Poinsettia Show. While this is a paid attraction ($8 adults/$5 children), this is surely the place to come and feel the magic of the season.

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winter festival of lights niagara falls
winter festival of lights niagara falls


  1. October 21, 2023 / 1:23 pm

    I would love to see the Festival of Lights. I saw the falls years ago when I was passing through for a wedding. I’m ready to go back. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

    • Sarah
      October 21, 2023 / 1:39 pm

      Niagara Falls in the winter is magical! Definitely worth seeing at least once 🙂

  2. October 21, 2023 / 10:33 pm

    Squeeee! This is stunning Sarah! Especially the way they light up the waterfall. That is flipping amazing. It’s pretty fab that there is a hot chocolate trail too. 🙂

  3. October 22, 2023 / 12:51 am

    Niagara Falls looks absolutely magical! I’d love to see winter illuminations like this on a trip. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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