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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Niagara Falls turns on winter fun

   One-Tank Trip for Nov. 30/13

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The American Falls (left) and the Horseshoe Falls take on a misty look as winter approaches in these photos taken from a Sheraton on the Falls’ guestroom. (Jim Fox photo)
   Niagara Falls has taken on its seasonal glow and is bustling with activity as part of the Winter Festival of Lights.
   Combined with the millions of sparkling lights and 120 animated displays is the emergence of the Falls Avenue Resort.
   This 20-acre resort includes hotel rooms with great views, an indoor waterpark and an eclectic mix of restaurants from family-fun themes to fine dining.

Niagara Falls in November (Jim Fox photo)
   Twinkle, twinkle
   The winter festival on through Jan. 31 has more than three-million twinkling lights along a five-kilometre route.
   The route travels through Queen Victoria Park, Dufferin Islands Nature Area and the Rink at the Brink at Table Rock, next to the Horseshoe Falls.
   Some 1.5-million visitors will view the 31st annual spectacle that includes hand-painted lanterns and a “wish lantern” tunnel from the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival in South Korea.
The Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls features some 120 animated displays. (Barbara Fox photo)
   There’s also a huge illuminated Canada-U.S. Flag, Niagara’s iconic Skylon Tower alight, Zimmerman Fountain and world religions’ lighting displays.
   Fireworks over the American and Horseshoe falls take place Fridays at 9 p.m. through Jan. 31 and nightly from Dec. 21 to 28, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
   At the New Year’s Eve free rocking party in Queen Victoria Park from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., there will be fireworks at 9 p.m. and midnight.
   Children’s storybook topics highlight the animated illuminated displays in Niagara Falls. (Jim Fox photo)
   The Falls are also illuminated nightly with changing colours of the rainbow – something that was first done in 1860 to mark a visit by the Prince of Wales. Festival details: wfol.com; 1-800-563-2557

   Making a splash
   When it’s cold and snowy outside, the action heats up along the Falls Avenue Resort area across from the falls in the heart of the tourist district.
   No need to step outside as there are indoor connections to three hotels with 1,200 rooms, 12 restaurants and attractions including Casino Niagara.
   Clifton Hill has attractions such as wax museums, haunted houses, video arcades, souvenir shops and a huge “ferris” wheel. (Jim Fox photo)
   A most-popular spot we discovered on a recent visit was the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark with 16 slides up to six-storeys high, a massive wave pool, a 4,546-litre tipping bucket, giant plunge bowl and a beach house aqua play area.
   Visitors soon discover that “dining, adventure and relaxation are all just steps away,” said Sarah Vazquez, the resort’s vice-president of marketing.
   Other kid fun includes Adventure City, with arcade-style games and simulator rides, a 4-D motion theatre, Hershey’s Chocolate World and the Rainforest Cafe.
   There’s also Planet Hollywood with popcorn and a movie daily and a Hard Rock Cafe. FallsAvenueResort.com; 1-888-234-8407
(Barbara Fox photo)
   Adjacent is Clifton Hill with quirky attractions including wax museums, haunted houses, video arcades, souvenir shops and the Niagara SkyWheel (ferris wheel) with enclosed climate-controlled cars.

   Falls views galore
   Falls Avenue is the location of the Sheraton on the Falls, Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls-Fallsview, Skyline Inn and Clifton Victoria Inn at the Falls.
   We settled into a Sheraton Fallsview King Jacuzzi room that – as advertised – offered “an unsurpassable and uninterrupted view” of both falls from its floor-to-ceiling windows.
Sheraton on the Falls Fallsview King Jacuzzi room. (Barbara Fox photo)
   No, there was no bright red, heart-shaped whirlpool tub beside the bed but it did have a large jetted Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom along with a fireplace and sitting area by the windows.
   There was a lavish breakfast buffet served in the Sheraton’s recently renovated Fallsview Restaurant, again with great views, and attentive service.
   Sheraton also has the Christienne Fallsview Spa offering guests “a relaxing soak in a hydrotherapy tub overlooking Niagara.”
   The Ultimate Couples Experience, in the “Honeymoon Capital of the World,” Family Waterpark Package and New Year’s Eve stays are among the packages available.
   Room rates start at $129. SheratonOnTheFalls.com; 1-800-263-7135

   Gastronomic foodie treats
   Niagara Falls is an emerging celebrity chef mecca along with winery and brewery partners.
   Windows by Jamie Kennedy is at the Sheraton while the Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra is at the Crowne Plaza.
   A series of culinary experiences is a “showcase for Niagara,” where guests can get to get know the two chefs, Vazquez said.
   Upcoming is Jamie Kennedy's Heritage Farmhouse Christmas on Dec. 6 for a “turn-of-the-last-century truly memorable meal.” ($125, dinner and wine pairings; $199 with accommodation, per person)
   An Icewine Festival Evening with Jamie Kennedy is on Jan. 24; That's Amore! – A Venetian Evening with Massimo Capra, Feb. 21, and his Salute to the King of Savoy, March 28; and Spring Thaw with Jamie Kennedy, April 25. sheratononthefalls.com/niagara-falls-packages/culinary-experiences.php?; 1-800-263-2552


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca


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