December 31st 2013
pictorial of festive displays during the Winter Festival of Lights
History of the Festival of Lights
The Festival of Lights has its roots dating back to the early 1900's.
In the early years as electricity became available, the small business districts strung coloured lights from buildings across streets to attract shoppers. The era of the lights festival had begun.
In 1918, Niagara Falls, New York became the first to illuminate the American Falls and the upper rapids by the location of spotlights above and below the waterfall.
The Festival of Lights night parade originated in Niagara Falls, New York where a festival was held in June of each year. The parade consisted of a number of floats adorned with coloured lights. Officials from Niagara Falls, Ontario were later invited to join the festivities. They did so by contributing several floats, marching bands and a number of city dignitaries.
In 1925, the Festival of Lights became a truly International affair with festivities taking place in both cities.
On May 25th 1925, the twenty-four new carbon arc illumination lights which were mounted on the Ontario Power Company surge tank in Queen Victoria Park were lit for the first time. These lights produced the power of 1,320,000,000 candles. A Festival of Lights celebration was planned to coincide with the official dedication of this light system.
The official ceremony took place on June 8th 1925 and was held to celebrate the first permanent night illumination of the Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls. The celebration included a light parade in Niagara Falls, New York followed by an International ceremony in the middle of the Upper Steel Arch Bridge which was attended by many Canadian and American dignitaries. Following this ceremony, the lights were turned on to illuminate the Falls with many thousands of spectators looking on. The light parade and illumination of the Falls became the predecessor of the current Festival of Lights.
Because of the success of the first festival, a second festival followed in 1926. It was known as the Festival of Lights. This time a gigantic parade was organized by both cities of Niagara Falls, New York and Niagara Falls, Ontario.
The City of Niagara Falls, Ontario entered an electrically lighted float on which rode "Miss Canada" - Winnifred Stokes of the Evening Review staff. This float was lighted by 57 electrical lights bearing the inscription "Miss Canada" on each side. Overhead lights were focused on Miss Stokes.
At the onset of the world wide depression the festival was not continued beyond 1926. Although the festival was a financial success, organizers felt the money would be better used to help the less fortunate in the community.
The City of Niagara Falls, New York began the modern era of the Festival of Lights in 1980.
In December of 1982, the executive of the Niagara Falls (Ontario) Visitor & Convention Bureau, authorized the planning of a Canadian version of the Festival of Lights.
The Canadian Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls, Ontario premiered between November 17th 1983 and February 26th 1984. Under the direction of Mr. George Bailey of the Niagara Parks Commission, the first festival had a budget of only $18,000.
In March of 1985, the City of Niagara Falls (Ontario) changed the name of their event from the Festival of Lights to the Winter Festival of Lights in order to accentuate the winter theme.
Today, the Winter Festival of Lights continues to evolve. In addition to the nightly illumination of the Falls of Niagara, many hundreds of street and park light displays containing tens of thousands of lights abound on both sides of the border. It has grown each year with added attractions, concerts and dazzlingly beautiful light displays which now rival the illumination of the Falls themselves as the premier tourist attraction.
In the Summer of 2001, the City of Niagara Falls, New York announced the end of their Festival of Lights citing financial difficulties.
In 1992, the World of Disney joined the Festival of Lights in Queen Victoria Park they have contributed the "Enchantment of Disney Lights Display" featuring more than twenty animated light displays of favourite Disney cartoon classics.
In 1998, a Night Parade was introduced in Queen Victoria Park featuring a dozen electrically lighted floats. The electric night parade has become an enormous success. Many new lights are displayed throughout Queen Victoria Park and Dufferin Islands each year.
In 2005, the Winter Festival of Lights committee decided not to fund the New Year's Eve Concert in Queen Victoria Park due to financial constraints. The monies normally spent of this event would be directed to creating and presenting more festive lights displays. The Niagara Parks Commission in association with the City of Niagara Falls and other tourism partners took over the planning and presentation of the New Years Eve Party in Queen Victoria Park.
In 2006, the Winter Festival of Lights committee decided to cancel the weekly Night Parade of Lights which consisted of more than a dozen festively lighted floats after eight years. In doing so the committee has committed $250,000 to new lights, displays and events.
In 2010, the Festival of Lights budget is estimated at $1.4 million dollars yearly with the City of Niagara Falls funding the largest portion at $342,000.
administration costs and wages of the Festival of Lights staff amounted
In 2010, the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights will now be known as the CAA Winter Festival of Lights. The CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) has agreed to sponsor the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights for a minimal period of 2-3 years, with a provision to extend their sponsorship beyond this time frame.
The 2013-2014 Festival of Lights will have a new look and new sponsorship. The festival will now be known as the Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights. CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) has ended their two year sponsorship. Festival management have also ended their long standing relationship with the World of Disney light displays. All Disney light displays will no longer be shown.
According to festival management the focus on new lighting displays will be from South Korea commemorating the 60th anniversary of the armistice marking the end of the Korean conflict and to recognize the Federal Governments designation of 2013 as the Year of Korea in Canada, by celebrating through a variety of new lighting, programming and special events with Korean delegations on NPC property.
The 2013-2014 festival will feature 16 beautiful, hand-painted lantern displays from the award-winning, Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival in South Korea along with a 70-metre Tunnel of Wish Lanterns. The Jinju lantern displays showcase iconic representations of South Korean culture.
The current annual budget for the Festival of Lights is approximately $1.3 - 1.5 million dollars. The primary sponsor of the festival will fund nearly $210,000 of this amount while the City of Niagara Falls provides an annual grant of $342,000. Tourism grants and local tourist business improvement areas supplement this budget.
Niagara Parks Commission staff worked together and helped with lighting 35 new wire framed trees to provide some presence given the absence of the Disney displays in the Victoria Park area.
The New Year’s Eve Party in Queen Victoria Park
Year’s Eve Party in Queen Victoria Park is an expensive proposition.
Although it is not sponsored by the Winter Festival of Lights, it is the
crown in the jewel of this festival season. The City of Niagara Falls
and the Niagara Parks Commission are joint organizers.
Canada - $500,000
plus over $1.3 million in advertising and promotional support
Each year the New Year's Eve Party in the Park costs approximately $1,000,000 dollars.
RINK at the
In 2009, the Festival of Lights committee chose to build and operate the Rink at the Brink ice skating rink opposite the Table Rock in Queen Victoria Park as part of the Festival of Lights celebration. The rink is 36 meters by 18 meters in size. The cost of this project is approximately $700,000. Skates are available for rental.
In 2010, the Festival of Lights committee chose to erect the Rink at the Brink but they decided not to erect the roof structure in order to allow skaters to face the open elements of the weather and the mist from the falls.
Festival Lights Displayed daily from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
While there is no admission fee to view the illuminations, donations are gratefully accepted along the Niagara Parks Winter Wonderland lighting route at the exit of Dufferin Islands (suggested contribution $5 – $10 per car; $1 per person on buses). Festival Ambassadors are stationed there nightly to answer questions and cheerfully accept your donations.
ILLUMINATION OF THE FALLS
Festivities beginning at 2:00 pm and will play host to a variety of engaging and interactive activities for the whole family to enjoy The day includes performances:
- traditional Korean dance and
The official lighting ceremony to officially begin the Winter Festival of Lights featuring hundreds of light displays and 3 million lights that illuminate the Niagara Parks Winter Wonderland and the City of Niagara Falls until January 31st 2014.
The entire performance begins
again at approximately 7:00 pm (minus the official lighting ceremony).
15-minute fireworks show choreographed to a live musical performance by The Niagara Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Bradley Thachuk.
November 15th 2013
November 16th 2013
SANTA CLAUS PARADE - City of Niagara Falls
November 22nd 2013
November 30th 2013
ILLUMINATION OF THE FALLS
December 1st 2013 –
February 28th 2014
December 6th 2013
December 22nd 2013
December 23rd 2013
December 26th 2013
December 28th 2013
NEW YEARS' EVE PARTY IN THE PARK
Happy New Year
January 1st 2014
December 1st 2013 – February 28th 2014
RINK AT THE BRINK – ICE SKATING
Opposite Table Rock Pavilion - Niagara Parks
Weekdays 12 pm – 9 pm daily (Sunday -Thursday)
Weekends 12 pm - 12 am (Friday - Saturday)
Admissions - $8.00 without skates
Skate rentals $5.65
January 3rd 2014
January 10th 2014
January 17th 2014
January 24th 2014
January 31st 2014
CONCLUSION OF FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
FIREWORKS OVER THE FALLS
The Light Display at the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of
Date last updated: December 26, 2013
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