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.

Just Posted

Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

Moms Stop the Harm, a nationwide network of families who have lost loved ones to overdoses rally

Trudeau announces bioregional oceans protection agreement in Prince Rupert

Agreement announced in partnership with 14 central and north coast First Nations

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

Local artist Danika Naccarella commissioned to design artwork for Northern Sea Wolf

The Sea Wolf symbolizes family, loyalty and the protection of those travelling their waters.

‘Daddy bonus’ common in B.C. workplaces, study finds

UBC researchers say dads don’t have to be number one in the office to get a raise

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

Man shot dead in Surrey ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

Murder of Paul Bennett – a respected Peace Arch Hospital worker and ‘champion of sport’ – ‘not random’

Serial killer Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec: victim’s family

Pickton was convicted in December 2007 of six counts of second degree murder

Canadian Syrian children’s choir not to attend festival over fears about U.S. travel

Many kids are recent immigrants from countries covered by Trump travel ban

B.C. teacher ends Jeopardy! winning streak, taking home US$69,000

Ali Hasan, from New Westminster, has been gaining fans as a “one-man invasion,” says Alex Trebek

Jett Woo highlights 5 Canucks choices on Day 2 of NHL entry draft

WHL star out of Moose Jaw tabbed in Round 2

In a matter of hours, women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive

Change was announced as a royal decree in 2017 by Crown Prince Mohammen bin Salman

Feds announce measures to protect endangered whale species

Canada’s Whale Initiative is part of the federal government’s $1.5 billion Ocean Protection Plan

Most Read