On the first day of Christmas Niagara USA gave to me - so many holiday events that it will be impossible not to be brimming with cheer, from now until the New Year. At Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation (NTCC) we have been collecting dates and things to do for residents and guests alike, so they can fill their calendars with all of the many activities going on during this time of year. Here are 12 to make your season festive and bright.
1. Drive up to the Fatima Shrine in Lewiston, N.Y. where the annual "Fatima Shrine Festival of Lights" will be shining bright nightly until January 3, 2016. A brisk stroll around the campus all aglow is well worth putting your walking shoes on.
2. See the Niagara Power Project - Power Vista transform into a winter wonderland with a dazzling display of reusable trees, adorned with energy efficient holiday lights and decorated by local non-profit groups, at the "Festival of Trees". Visitors of all ages can enjoy hands-on experiences and learn about hydroelectricity and the historic role it has played in the Niagara Frontier. Parking and admission is FREE.
3. Visiting the 300-year old French castle at Old Fort Niagara is a majestic site. Lighting the pathway throughout the vast campus with a candlelight tour turns it into something magical. From December 5 - 12, this historic gem will offer their spectacular "Castle by Candlelight" tour.
4. Nothing says the holidays like something in the oven, so get cooking at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute on Old Falls Street, Niagara Falls, N.Y., where demonstrations and classes are held regularly. Holiday fun doesn't end there - stop by the life-size gingerbread village and visit with Santa Claus on weekends December 4 - 20. There are also FREE activities for the whole family.
5. The holidays are happening on the Niagara Wine Trail, USA, every Sunday, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 4 - 13. Participants will receive a special holiday gift from the trail, wine tasting and chance to shop. Tickets include three tastes and commemorative wine glass from your starting winery.
6. For small town holiday charm, take a drive out to Newfane, N.Y. for their "Holiday Light Up" from 5:30 - 8 p.m. December 4. Admission is FREE and all of the excitement will take a place on Main Street. A parade, cookies, hot chocolate and a visit from Santa brought in on a horse drawn wagon will mark the occasion as the town will be decorated in lights and the Wishing Tree will be on display at the gazebo.
7. The "Historic Lewiston Tour of Homes" reoccurs daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. December 5-6. Admission is $25. View quaint cottages with their halls decked with holiday décor. Enjoy a dessert sampling reception and access to the Holiday Gift Market.
8. Also in Lewiston, don't miss the "Village of Lewiston Christmas Walk" from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, December 5-6. The admission is FREE and all events take place on Center Street. It will be an old fashioned-time with complimentary carriage rides, shopping, carolers, Santa plans to promenade through the heart of town at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Entertainment and refreshments will be served by Lewiston businesses.
9. Want to make sure you're on the nice list? Santa will also be at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum (180 Thompson St., North Tonawanda, N.Y. 14120), 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday, Nov. 28 - Dec. 10. Enjoy lunch, crafts and games, hot chocolate and treats, and plenty of opportunity to ride the carrousel. Reservations and prepayment ($10 per person) are required for lunch.
10. Enjoy the great outdoors and go fishing! Pacific salmon return to the Niagara River this time of year, as well as popular locations like 18 Mile Creek and Burt Dam in the Town of Newfane. Trout start to make their runs and bass will soon begin a feeding frenzy. There is also muskellunge fishing in the Niagara River. For the latest fishing report, call 877-FALLS-US or pick up the Hotspot Fishing Map and Outdoor Guide at the Niagara USA Official Visitor Center (10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14303).
11. Winter Wonderland Project Presents "The Festival of Lights" at Hyde Park in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Revel in twinkling lights this holiday season from the comfort of your own car. Tune into festive music and bring a thermos of a hot beverage to a memorable evening. The lights will be on nightly from 5-10 p.m. throughout New Year's Eve.
12. Santa may be arriving in Lockport, N.Y. during "Light up Lockport" however he takes the stage the evening of Sunday, Dec. 20. From 6-8 p.m. I will join John Lombardi of Lombardi's Trattoria and Lockport Community Television host to interview Santa LIVE at the Historic Palace Theatre, 2 East Ave., Lockport, N.Y. 14094. Stay tuned to "Niagara Now" for the latest updates on how to be in the audience.
For a complete list of activities visit our homepage at niagara-usa.com.