A visitor takes a photograph at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ont., as cold weather continues through much of the province on Friday, December 29, 2017. About 14 million people visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls each year, most of them in the summer months, according to local authorities. But record cold temperatures have turned the natural attraction into a winter wonderland, drawing more visitors this winter than usual, the Niagara Parks Commission says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Lynett

A visitor takes a photograph at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ont., as cold weather continues through much of the province on Friday, December 29, 2017. About 14 million people visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls each year, most of them in the summer months, according to local authorities. But record cold temperatures have turned the natural attraction into a winter wonderland, drawing more visitors this winter than usual, the Niagara Parks Commission says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Lynett

Niagara Falls a frozen winter wonderland

Record cold temperatures have turned the natural attraction into a winter wonderland, drawing more visitors this winter than usual

Diane Zhao has made the journey from China to Niagara Falls three times before, but she has never seen it like this — a veritable ice palace, straight out of a fairy tale.

“I just wanted to see the ice and the frozen falls,” Zhao said of her fourth trip to the falls. “It’s so huge and beautiful.”

About 14 million people visit the Niagara Region in southern Ontario each year, most of them in the summer months, according to local authorities.

The Canadian side of Niagara Falls, the region’s star attraction, has seen more visitors than usual this winter, the Niagara Parks Commission says, as record cold temperatures in recent weeks have turned the surging waters and their surroundings into an icy winter wonderland.

“This has been wonderful,” parks commission chair Janice Thomson said. “Just in the past week we’ve seen (such a) flow of people.”

Word of the wintry spectacle has spread across the globe in recent days as stories about the icy falls have been published by the likes of CNN, the Washington Post, BBC and news outlets in continental Europe.

Many visitors hear the falls have frozen and want to see the mighty flow of water brought to a standstill, Thomson said.

“Of course we know the falls aren’t frozen over,” Thomson noted.

Rather, spray and mist freeze into a crust over top of the water, creating the illusion that the falls have stopped falling, she explained.

Niagara Falls has only truly stopped once, the Niagara Parks Commission says — for 30 hours in March 1848, when millions of tons of ice temporarily clogged the source of the Niagara River.

While the falls aren’t truly frozen today, the effect is still stunning, and the same mist that freezes over the falls has formed an icy casing over every tree branch, railing and lamppost in the surrounding area.

Huge blocks of ice are pushed over the falls and into the frigid waters below, where they swirl in whirlpools or freeze into a glacier-like “ice bridge” that sometimes reaches 10 storeys high.

“It’s amazing,” said Australian Maya Oxley, who is in Canada visiting relatives and made a trip to the falls this week.

Oxley said she saw the falls in winter 14 years ago and had to come back.

“It’s beautiful in winter, and not many crowds,” she said.

For Ariana Durgadeen, who was visiting from Trinidad with her mother, the ice was an introduction both to Niagara Falls and to a real Canadian winter.

“I’m really enjoying it so far, except the wind,” Durgadeen said. “It’s a bit cold but really nice and beautiful.”

About eight million people stop by the Niagara Parks Commission’s paid attractions around the falls every year. Less than a million of them come in the winter time, Thomson said.

While the cold weather means visitors can’t ride a boat on the Niagara River to get close to the falls, tourists in the winter can still take the Journey Behind the Falls, a tunnel with two portals behind the falls.

Winter visitors can also take advantage of indoor attractions like the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory, or Niagara’s Fury, a 360-degree “multi-sensory” theatre where visitors learn about the ancient origins of the falls.

“(Niagara Falls) is a different, unique experience in winter,” Thomson said.

Peter Goffin , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kalesnikoff Lumber will be providing materials for a 21-storey apartment building in Vancouver. Rendering: Henriquez Partners Architects
Kalesnikoff supplying mass timber for several major projects

The West Kootenay lumber company will be making the products at South Slocan facility

School District 8 superintendent Christine Perkins will leave for Vernon’s school district at the end of the academic year. Photo: Submitted
School District 8 superintendent Christine Perkins resigns

Perkins is leaving to take over another district

The 300 block Victoria Street is the site of Nelson’s proposed transit exchange. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
LETTER: Nelson City Council, please reconsider transit hub plan

From seven property and business owners near the intersection of Victoria and Kootenay Streets

Selkirk College has received provincial funding to assist students. File photo
Selkirk College receives funding to assist students

Provincial funding is available to West Kootenay students

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Most Read