Raise a Glass at the 2024 Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival

Icewine Festival sculptures

December 21 marks a special time when Earth and the Sun align with the heart of our solar system and the surrounding constellations. Solstice means “sun stands still.” 

The December Solstice is the longest night in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest day in the Southern Hemisphere. This is a symbolic turning point in the wheel of the year when a shift happens for all on Earth! Not surprisingly, a variety of traditions celebrate holidays with “the return of the Light.” 

The December Solstice is also the start of the Capricorn season — a time to make practical plans, a time to be effective and efficient, a time to take care of business, a time to delegate tasks, a time to acknowledge ancestors and family history, and a time to honour past traditions. It’s no mistake that Christmas festivities and setting New Year goals play such prominent roles between December 21 and January 20.

Icewine Festival people

It’s Party Time at the 2024 Icewine Festival
And with our friend Mercury Retrograde in effect until January 1, we’re reminded to take extra time to reflect and reconnect with loved ones who matter most. What better way to enjoy the camaraderie and ring in the New Year than with a glass or two of Niagara’s celebrated “liquid gold” dessert wine at the 2024 Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival.

Every January, historic Queen Street turns into a pedestrian-friendly Icewine Village lined with tents and musical performers welcoming visitors from far and wide. And this year’s homage to this exquisite Canadian nectar promises to be better and more magical than ever.

Ice Bar at the Outlets
The fun begins on January 13 and 14 in the Outdoor Courtyard at the Outlet Collection at Niagara where, for the first time, shoppers have the opportunity to add a whole new dimension to their shopping excursion. The Ice Bar will showcase VQA Icewine from 16 wineries plus a signature VQA Icewine cocktail along with live music and cozy fire pits.

Icewine Village
Celebrations continue over the next two weekends: January 20 & 21, and 27 & 28. Set against the backdrop of our beautiful Queen Street, the Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival promises a unique and immersive experience for all who come. Sample a diverse array of exceptional icewines. Indulge in culinary delights that complement the distinct flavours of this cherished Canadian specialty. Enjoy live entertainment, engaging activities and festive atmosphere.


Sparkle & Ice Celebration
On January 26, a lavish gala at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Courthouse features the fan favourite Icewine Cocktail Competition. In traditional style, the evening culminates with a stunning firework display and Icewine toast.

Treat Yourself to a VIP Lounge Experience
Elevate your Icewine Festival experience at the VIP Lounge where luxury meets the enchantment. Your $100 ticket entitles you to entry to a private tent featuring cozy fire pits, Muskoka chairs and a signature cocktail compliments of Spirit in Niagara — all conveniently located across from the stage. As you unwind by the fire, comfy and warm in your complimentary VIP toque and blanket, enjoy a flight of three Icewine varieties expertly paired with a charcuterie box of tasty delights from Cheese Secrets

Looking for Accommodation?
STAY Niagara-on-the-Lake offers a variety of lodging options ranging from cozy bed and breakfasts and inns to self-catering apartments, cottages and villas located throughout Old Town and the neighbouring communities of St. David’s, Queenston, Virgil and Glendale.

Looking Ahead
After the Holiday Season, some of us need a rest or something to look forward to. After all, we don’t want you to miss out on the fun.
December 31: New Year’s Eve at Peller Estates Winery
January 20: A Naval Dinner — An Evening with the Captain
January 22: January Blues at The Hare Winery
February Weekends: The Chocolate & Cheese Passport Event
February 3: Black History in NOTL: Commemorating National Historic Significance
February 5: Celebrating Black History & Culture at The Harry Winery
February 9: Brock: The Man, the Myth, the Legend at Navy Hall
Until February 25: Inniskillin’s Illumination Nights
February 27: Reif Estate Icewine Dinner
Until February 29: Seasky International Light Show at Reif Estate Winery
Until Mid-March: Skating at the Great One’s Backyard Rink and at The Gardens at the Pillar and Post
Until April 29: Strike a Pose: The Art of Self-Obsession at the NOTL Museum
June 7: White Effect Dinner
June 15: Shaw Garden Tour
June 15: St. Andrew’s Strawberry Festival
June 29, 30 & July 1: Artistry by the Lake
July 6: St. Mark’s Cherry Festival
August 10: Peach Festival
August 11: Shades of Rose Dinner
October 4: Shaw Autumn Soirée
October 5 & 6: NOTL Beer/Harvest Festival
December 6: Candlelight Stroll
December 14: Christmas Parade

Helpful Tips
Did you lose something while you were in Niagara-on-the-Lake? Contact the lost and found centre at the NOTL Chamber of Commerce located at 26 Queen Street in the lower level of the building. Or call 1-905-468-1950 or email tourism@niagaraonthelake.com for more information.

Celebrate the Holiday Magic of Niagara-on-the-Lake

Beau Chapeau Christmas Window

If you missed the Santa Clause Parade and the Candlelight Stroll on December 10, don’t worry… There are plenty more opportunities — and reasons — to celebrate the magic of the Holiday Season in Niagara-on-the-Lake. 

Stay in one of STAY Niagara-on-the-Lake’s member bed and breakfasts, cottages, villas or apartments. Sip Icewine in one of 38 wineries that dot the immediate countryside. Enjoy the Shaw Festival’s two Christmas shows — A Christmas Carol and Brigadoon. Shop in the authentic Christmas village or at one of the holiday markets for handcrafted artisan-made gifts. Get pampered in one of five spas. 

But wait… there’s so much more.

Christmas Tree

Vote for Your Favourite
Queen Street has been transformed into a Christmas wonderland with decorated shop windows and Christmas trees lining the main thoroughfare. Get into the spirit and vote for your favourite Christmas tree and shop window at the Chamber of Commerce at 26 Queen Street. Voting for the People’s Choice Awards is open until December 31 at 5 p.m., and winners will be announced at the 2024 Icewine Festival. 

Take in a Light Show
The Reif Estate Winery invites you to experience Niagara-on-the-Lake’s First Light Experience. The Seasky International Light Show runs from 5 to 9 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays, from December 21 to February 29. This spectacular event is crafted by artisans featuring scenes of magic, animals, nature, festive delights and Chinese culture. Take it all in with some warm mulled wine, hot apple cider, Vinea hot chocolate, award-winning Icewine and more. It’s the perfect date night or family outing!

Ready, Set, GLOW!
Not to be outdone, Canada’s Original Estate Winery — Inniskillin — is aglow in glittering lights until February 25. You’re welcome to experience an unforgettable evening as you get cozy and sip Icewine. The magic happens Fridays and Saturdays, from 5 to 9 p.m.

Lace Up Those Skates
Head over to the skating rink in the beautifully decorated Monet-inspired gardens across the street from the Pillar and Post Hotel. Then, cozy up to one of many warming stations located throughout the gardens with a snack and a hot drink or a glass of wine from the Outpost. It’s the perfect place to reminisce and share family Christmas stories and lots of laughter with one another. Go ahead, take a selfie or two while you’re at it. You’ll want to share your special day or evening with friends and family back home.

Monet-inspired Gardens at Christmas

Experience a Fine Scottish Tradition
In honour of the Shaw Festival’s production of Brigadoon, the Prince of Wales Hotel is serving a Highland Candlelight Tea from 7 to 9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday evening in their Drawing Room. The menu features Sloane premium teas, housemade finger sandwiches, sweet cakes and pastries, signature scones and savory steak pie.

Run, Santa, Run!
Grab your family and friends, put on a Santa suit and run the Annual 5K Santa Run at 10 a.m., December 17. Later, enjoy breakfast and an award ceremony at The Irish Harp where prizes for best race times and keepsake medals will be doled out to participants. All proceeds support the NOTL Youth Collective, a program committed to creating a safe, accessible and inclusive environment for youth aged 12 to 18 in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Strike a Pose exhibit at Museum

Strike a Pose
Step out of the cold and into the warmth of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum where an exhibit called The Art of Self-Obsession is on display until April 29. The desire to leave a mark on the work and chronicle our lives is not a new concept. Over centuries, we have recorded our likeness through drawings, portrait paintings, sculpture, photography, and now, through social media and selfies. This exhibition shows how the people of Niagara-on-the-Lake documented themselves through paintings, drawings, photography and pixels. 

Get Set for the New Year 2024
After the Holiday Season, some of us need a rest or something to look forward to. After all, we don’t want you to miss out on the fun.
January 13 & 14: Icewine Festival Kick-Off Weekend at the Outlet Collection
January 20: A Naval Dinner — An Evening with the Captain
January 20 & 21 and 27 & 28: 29th Icewine Festival Icewine Village on Queen Street
January 26: Sparkle & Ice Celebration at the Court House

Helpful Tips
Parking is free in Old Town and at Fort George during the month of December.

Did you lose something while you were in Niagara-on-the-Lake? Contact the lost and found centre at the NOTL Chamber of Commerce located at 26 Queen Street in the lower level of the building. Or call 1-905-468-1950 or email tourism@niagaraonthelake.com for more information.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Activities: 20 Ideas for a Rainy Day

NOTL in May

Rain, rain, go away… Remember this children’s rhyme? On the brighter side, April showers do bring May flowers.

We plan for sunny-day activities, and then Mother Nature rains on our agenda, reminding us just who’s in charge here. Hakuna Matata! We’ve got you covered. From museums and retail therapy to live stage performances, there’s something for every taste, interest and budget. You won’t even notice it’s raining! And remember…

“If plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters
– 204 if you’re in Japan.”

― Claire Cook, writer and motivational speaker


Take in a 2 p.m. or an 8 p.m. performance at one of the Shaw Festival theatres in town. (Mondays are dark.)


Book a one-hour backstage tour at the Festival Theatre to discover the secrets that bring each production to the stage. Cost: $10, $5 with ticket to a performance.

Outlet Collection at Niagara Stores


Shop til you drop at the Outlet Collection at Niagara where you’ll find more than 100 trendy boutiques. But first, head over to the Guest Services building to pick up your VIP Visitor Card, available to all out-of-town visitors, to access exclusive discounts and offers from on-site retailers. (You’ll need ID or a passport to prove you are from out of town.)


Hunt for treasures at some of the many antique shops in and around Niagara-on-the-Lake.


Visit the Butterfly Conservatory located next to the Botanical Gardens on the Niagara Parkway.

Orange butterfly


Check out local artists. Browse through Lakeside Pottery on Lakeshore Road, Queenston Pottery on York Road in St. David’s, or Bélisle Pottery on Four Mile Creek Road where you can also take a class.


Tour the historical Laura Secord Homestead in Queenston.


Check out the Riverbrink Art Museum in Queenston.


Visit the Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum in Queenston.


Step into an educational experience at the Niagara Parks Power Station to discover the incredible history and heritage of this 115-year-old engineering marvel.


Work out in the fully-equipped gym at our Community Center located on Anderson’s Lane. A day pass costs $5.50.


Stones Massage

Book a spa treatment or massage at one of many venues in and around Niagara-on-the-Lake.


Purchase a day pass at the Pillar and Post for $75 per person. Your day pass includes access to their indoor pool, indoor sauna, a locker in the upstairs change room with robe, as well as the Hot Spring if space is available upon arrival.


Spend time at the charming Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum on Castlereagh in Old Town.


Book a chauffeur-driven winery tour with one of many wine tour companies in the area that include Grape Escape, Crush Wine Tours, Niagara Grape & Wine Tours, Niagara Wine Tours International, Niagara Getaways Wine Tours and more.

Two Women on Wine Tour


Learn all about wine production at one or more of the informative seminars and tours offered by some of the wineries in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area.


Watch ships “climb the mountain” at the Welland Canal Center Lock 3 Museum.


Visit Bird Kingdom in Niagara Falls, the largest free-flying indoor aviary in the world.


Take in a Music Niagara performance at various indoor venues during the months of July and August.


Whirlpool Jet Boat

Go ahead! Embrace the weather and head off on a Whirlpool Jet Boat adventure anyway. After all, you’ll be getting wet, rain or shine!


Niagara-on-the-Lake History: A Land of Many Legends

Battle re-enactment

For many Indigenous peoples, the Niagara Region has been a powerful spiritual site since melting glaciers revealed the great lakes of Erie and Ontario and the mighty Niagara River approximately 13,000 years.

A Sacred Place
Considered a sacred place of great power and healing, the Niagara Region was used for religious ceremonies and rituals as well as for hunting and fishing. The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) believed the Thunderer, a powerful spirit associated with thunder and lightning, resided in the Niagara Region, and that the Falls were created by the Thunderer’s voice.

Niagara Falls at night

The region was also an important meeting place for Indigenous nations, who gathered here to discuss matters of trade diplomacy and war. It was considered a neutral zone, where conflicts could be resolved peacefully. However, if conflicts broke out between the Huron and Iroquois, warring tribes often brought their women and children to the resident Neutral Nation for safekeeping during such dangerous times.

The Neutral Nation was a highly developed culture with sophisticated agricultural techniques, which included the use of irrigation and terracing to cultivate crops like tobacco. They had extensive trade networks throughout the Great Lakes region and were known for their highly valued pottery as well as their tobacco trade. They also had a complex social and political structure, with distinct clans and a council of leaders who made decisions on behalf of the ten tribes of the Iroquois Nation.

The land along the Niagara River continues to have rich ties to Indigenous history and culture. The Indigenous Niagara Living Museum Tours features animated encounters and engagements with Indigenous peoples, cultural interpreters, historians, food specialists and artisans. Tours explore the geology of the Niagara Escarpment and include Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Willowbank School of Restoration and Indigenous Community Love Garden and the Landscape of Nations Commemorative Memorial in Queenston, the Niagara Glen Nature Centre, and many more.

Walking Tour of NOTL

Our Home on Native Land
Sadly, the arrival of European explorers and settlers in the 17th century brought diseases that devastated the population of the Neutral Nation and other tribes, and their way of life was disrupted by the fur trade and conflicts.

In the 18th century, the British established Fort George, a military outpost in Niagara-on-the-Lake. During the War of 1812, Fort George played a crucial role in the defence of Upper Canada against American invasion. It was the site of several battles, including the Battle of Fort George in May 1813, when American forces captured the fort and burned down much of the town.

Following the war, the fort was rebuilt and used as a military base until the mid-19th century. Today, Fort George is a National Historic Site of Canada and a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the fort’s barracks, officers’ quarters and other buildings, as well as view historical demonstrations and re-enactments of military life during the War of 1812. Fort George is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays until May 19, daily from May 20 to September 3, and Wednesday to Sunday from September 4 to October 31. By the way, entrance fees are waived on July 1, Canada Day!

Niagara on the Lake Museum tour guide

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum features 9,000 years of history ranging from Indigenous history to the tourism boom of the 1970s. Its gallery contains such significant artefacts as a powder horn belonging to Chief Joseph Brant, the Indian Department Coatee worn by Daniel Servos during the American Revolutionary War, uniforms from the War of 1812 and much more.

Black Canadian History
Niagara’s role in the Underground Railroad is legendary. Between 1796 and 1949, the Underground Railroad led an estimated 40,000 African American slaves to their ultimate freedom in Canada. Fort Erie, Ontario became a popular crossing for freedom seekers because of its proximity to Buffalo, New York.

Niagara Parks features some of Canada’s most poignant stories of freedom and courage among its extensive collection of displays and monuments honouring Black Canadian history. As you drive, cycle or walk along the 56-kilometre (35-mile) Niagara River Recreation Trail between Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake, you’ll come across a number of plaques and displays highlighting some of Canada’s most historic moments right here in Niagara.

Mackenzie Printery Museum

Among the interesting sites to visit along this trail is the Mackenzie Printery in Queenston, home to the Louis Roy press, the oldest wooden press in Canada, and one of only seven left in the world today. It was used to print Ontario’s first newspaper, The Upper Canada Gazette, as well as the 1793 Act Against Slavery, which prevented further introduction of enslaved people into Upper Canada and gradually allowed for the abolition of slavery.

A little further down the Parkway in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Navy Hall is a collection of buildings that served as the first seat of government for the Executive Council of Upper Canada, where John Graves Simcoe took the first legislative steps in the Act Against Slavery in 1793.

Situated at Regent and Johnson in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Voices of Freedom Park commemorates the silenced and forgotten stories of people of African descent, whose sacrifices, labour, skills and talents contributed to the development of our town.

Ambassadors of the Past
You might be delighted to learn that some STAY Niagara-on-the-Lake member properties claim a direct link to colourful, historical figures from the past, some of whom are rumoured to roam their halls. However, we’ll keep those tales under wraps for a more appropriate time.

Many of our short-term rental property owners in Niagara-on-the-Lake are born storytellers who have made it their business to study the history of the Niagara Region and are happy to share their version(s) with anyone who will listen. So, ask away. You never know what history lesson you might uncover at the breakfast table or over a glass of wine.

History comes alive in Niagara. Isn’t it time you created a little history of your own for your travel albums?

Comin’ Up
It’s never too early to plan your trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Here’s a sampling of what’s to come:

Garden Tour

April 29 – Queens of the Vineyard at Caroline Cellars
May Weekends – Sip & Sizzle at various Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries
May 6 – TD Niagara Jazz Festival Spring 2023 Fundraising Event at The Hare Wine Co.
June 9 – White Effect Dinner at Peller Estates Winery
June 9 – September 15 – Summer Concert Series at Jackson-Triggs Winery Estate
June 17 & 18 – Juried Art Show at the Riverbank Art Museum
June 24 – Shaw Guild Garden Tour
July 1-3 – Artistry by the Lake
July 8 – Cherry Festival
August 12 – Peach Festival
August 12 – Sip, Savour & Stroll
August 13 – Shades of Summer Dinner