Travel Niagara Falls, ON: Pawing Around the Winter Festival of Lights (with the dog)

dog at niagara falls festival of lights dogtrotting.netFinally, we made it to the granddaddy of all holiday light shows: The Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Established in 1983, this festival grows each year to include laser light shows and fireworks at special times during the festival’s run November 19, 2016 to January 31, 2017.

Visit anytime dusk to midnight – we arrived about 7pm – and join the line of slow-moving cars weaving along the eight kilometres of illuminated Parkway adjacent to the grand dame of the show: the Niagara Horseshoe Falls.

Yes, The Falls is still the primary draw and coloured lights reflected on the cascading water is worth stopping to see. But the overwhelming display of light-laden trees and lit up cartoon characters throughout Victoria Park is what most are driving here to see… including my dog Victor and I.

niagara falls festival of lights

We’re finishing the fourth of our Southern Ontario light festival tour testing out various dog paw protective wear.

Tonight Victor is sporting a set of Pawz dog boots – rubber balloon-like paw coverings we were given at the BlogPaws Conference last June.

So far, Pawz is the winner for two reasons:

  1. Pawz protect Victor’s feet from road salt
  2. Pawz stay on his feet.

Granted, the rubber is not keeping him warm – it’s -12 Celsius tonight (10F) – but I knew the moisture from The Falls and the biting temperatures would create one thing: ice.

And where there is ice, there is road salt. So much salt.

What’s brilliant about this light festival – and really appreciated tonight – is you can experience it from the inside of a warm car. Start at Clifton Hill and drive along the edge of the Niagara River. You’ll pass both the American and Canadian Falls, while being surrounding by the thickest part of the stationary light show.

Stop at the Floral Showcase – a garden conservatory and one of my favourite places in Niagara Falls. The indoor conservatory is only open until 5pm each day, but the surroundings lit-up gardens are accessible if your pup needs a walk – which Victor does.

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Also from the very salted Floral Showcase parking lot, you can see the musically choreographed projection on the Toronto Power Plant across the street.

Drive a bit further to the Grand Finale: the Niagara Falls Winter Wonderland at Dufferin Island. This is a semi-circle meandering drive through a showcase of lit shapes such as elk, moose, deer and strangely jumping monkeys. Plus, the parking spots along the road are ideal for pulling over to let Fido stroll.

It’s really icy (but not salted) so Victor and I walk only briefly. There are garbage bins here too for … well, you know. Stoop and scoop, right? My terrier takes every opportunity.

niagara falls festival of lights

All four Pawz Protects are still on Victor’s feet and giving him some traction on the ice-covered by a dusting of snow. It’s bitingly beautiful along the Dufferin Island pond, punctuated with lit shapes of howling wolves and flying geese.

Yet, we don’t stay outside long.

What Victor thought of the lights, there’s no telling. However, I’m certain he preferred no stinging salt pellets or balls of ice clumping between his toes. Maybe that’s why he didn’t struggle the next time I pulled on his Pawz Protects.

Good thing too. We’re in for a long winter and Victor doesn’t like to stay home.Pawz dog booties

Check out our previous adventures in Simcoe, Brantford and Burlington, Ontario.

Pick up your own pack of Pawz from Amazon. I recommend them (and wasn’t paid to say so).

Did you take your dog to a light show during the holidays? Let us know in the comments below.

LESSONS FROM THE PACK: Stories of the Dogs Who Changed My Life


  1. […] throughout most of this popular tourist destination, including along the Niagara Parkway and Dufferin Islands. (Note: there is the option to park and walk a bit at Dufferin Islands if your dog needs a pee […]

  2. […] Falls, Ontario is widely known for the spectacularly beautiful Niagara Falls and all the tourist trappings that accompany a world-renown natural wonder. However, Niagara Falls […]

  3. […] so you’ll have to drive it. There are places to get out and take pictures of your pup (I did here years ago with my previous dog), and I’m looking forward to driving through with my Sprocker this […]

  4. […] that allowed him some walking or running time among the snow and ice. One of his favourites was the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights, where I’m hoping to make a weekend of it with my new dog this holiday season – watch for […]

  5. […] Victor and I checked out four Ontario outdoor light shows – Simcoe, Brantford, Burlington and Niagara Falls – at the peak of bone chill temperature. While there, we test drove different paw […]

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