With so much going on in Niagara Falls during the Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights, it’s sometimes easy to forget that it is first and foremost an illumination festival. In fact, it is one of the premier illumination festivals in North America with more than 120 sparkling displays located along the stunningly beautiful Niagara Parkway, a five-kilometre lighting area known as the Niagara Parks Winter Wonderland as well as in the adjacent tourist districts of Niagara Falls.
Within the Niagara Parks Winter Wonderland, you will see displays that offer a snapshot of Life in Niagara. These feature the award-winning Niagara grape and wine industry, historic 1812 battles and a variety of winter activities such as skating, skiing and ice hockey.
You’ll also notice the world’s largest illuminated Canadian-American Flag, at three-stories tall it morphs between the Canadian and American flags, in celebration of the nearly 200 years of uninterrupted peace between our two great nations. Other displays include the Zimmerman Fountain display, at two-stories high and over 40 feet wide, its animation gives the effect of a cascading waterfall in brilliant blue and white LED lights; and, of course, a display dedicated to the Festival’s lovable characters, The Misty Kids®.
The Niagara Parks Police building also known as The Music Box has its illumination choreographed to festive music. This brilliant demonstration occurs every 15 minutes. Limited parking is available in the loop located in front of the building for your viewing and listening pleasure.
Also, be sure to keep your eye out for favourites like the Snowman Band, the Teddy Bear Parade, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police displays located in front of the Niagara Parks Police building.
Jinju Namgang Yudeung Displays
New this year, the Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights features ornate, hand-painted lantern displays and a stunning Tunnel of Wish Lanterns created by the award-winning Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival of South Korea.
The lantern displays showcase Korean cultural icons including a pagoda, incense burner, a traditional Korean drum, dragons, unicorn lions, and a Pensive Bodhisattva along with a Western favourite – Santa and his reindeer! Most of these displays are found within Queen Victoria Park while the Tunnel of Wish Lanterns is located on the pathway leading to the TD RINK (just on the other side of the round illumination tower). Those located within QVP will be removed the Monday before Christmas to make way for ET Canada’s New Year’s Eve Niagara Falls concert featuring The Sam Roberts Band, Serena Ryder and Demi Lovato.
The lantern displays are manufactured using steel wire frames, LED lighting and are covered in hand-painted fabric. They are equally captivating in the daylight as well as at night. The fact that they are three-dimensional adds an element that hasn’t been part of most of the Festival’s existing light displays.
Unicorn Lion Lanterns
The Unicorn Lion, called Haetae in Korean, is an omniscient mythical beast. According to Korean records, Haetae had a lion-like body covered with scales, a horn on its forehead, and a bell in its neck. In Korea (around 1400-1500), Haetae sculptures were built and located in front of the King’s palace because they were believed to protect the nation from natural disasters.
Traditional Korean Drum
Korean drums play an important part in traditional Korean music, ranging from folk musicto royal court music. There are a wide variety of shapes and sizes for use both in accompanying other instruments and in special drumming performances. The drum created for the Festival is known as a jwago style of drum (a barrel drum in a wooden frame).
The pensive pose involves a figure that has one leg crossed over a pendant leg, the ankle of the crossed leg rests on the knee of the pendant leg. The elbow of the figure’s raised arm rests on the crossed leg’s knee while the fingers rest or almost rest on the cheek of the head bent in introspection. The Festival’s Pensive Bodhisattva lantern display is based upon the gilt-bronze Maitreya in Meditation designated as the 78th national treasure of Korea and housed at the National Museum of Korea.
Celadon (Cheong-ja) Pitcher Lantern
Though the term “celadon” is somewhat misleading in that it means green, it has become widely accepted as the Western term for the Korean pottery called Cheong-ja in Korean, with the distinctive jade-green color. A Celadon pitcher in the shape of a tortoise (as seen in Queen Victoria Park) is designated as Korean National Treasure No. 96 and enshrined in the National Museum of Korea in Seoul.
Buddhist Temple Bell Lantern
The Korean Buddhist temple bronze bell is not only beautiful in its form, but also well known for its magnificent and peaceful sound. The most celebrated and the biggest temple bell in Korea is the Emille Bell weighing about 25 tons and made in 771 A.D. during the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-A.D. 935), which is now enshrined in the Gyeongju National Museum. This bell was originally used for gathering people or telling the time but now it is mainly used for morning/evening services and specific Buddhist ceremonies.
A dragon is a legendary creature that has a snake-like body and two pairs of lizard-type legs. Dragons have been part of East Asian culture for more than 4,000 years. In the religious traditions of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, they have been honored as sources of power and bringers of rain, so being located across from Canada’s most famous water – Niagara Falls – is a natural fit. They are commonly said to possess some form of magic or supernatural power.
Women in Traditional Dress Lanterns
Hanbok is the traditional Korean dress. It is often characterized by vibrant colors and simple lines without pockets. It consists of jeogori (a blouse shirt or a jacket) and chima (a wrap-around skirt). Korean women used to wear it all the time, but now they tend to wear it on special occasions such as their weddings and their child’s first birthday.
Throughout history, Korea had a dual clothing tradition, in which rulers and aristocrats adopted different kinds of mixed foreign-influenced indigenous styles, while the commoners continued to use a distinct style of indigenous clothing that today is known as Hanbok.
Gold Fish (Korean Folk Art) Lantern
Korean folk art called “Minhwa” consists of paintings of mythical figures and other objects. It was often the work of anonymous craftsmen who faithfully adhered to their styles, standards and genres inherited from the past. Among many subjects, gold fish, cranes, rocks, water, clouds, sun, moon, pine trees, tortoises, insects and flowers were very popular because they were scenes of everyday life. The paintings were done on paper or on canvas.
Incense Burner Lantern
Censers are any type of vessels made for holding and burning incense. These vessels vary greatly in size, form, and material of construction. Once made of very hard baked clay, they are carved with intricate patterns. In many cultures, burning incense has spiritual and religious connotations, and this influences the design and decoration of the censer.
Pagodas were built to house relics and sacred writings related to Buddhism. Therefore, they were often located in or near a Buddhist monastery, a building in which monks live together. Pagodas attract lighting strikes because of their height. Many pagodas have a decorated finial at the top of the structure, and when made of metal, this finial, sometimes referred to as a “demon-arrester” can function as a lightning rod. Also, Pagodas come in many different sizes, some may be small and others may be large, and they traditionally have an odd number of levels.
Tunnel of Wish Lanterns
The Niagara Falls Tunnel of Wish Lanterns includes approximately 1,600 lanterns along its 50-metre length. It is hoped that the same tradition of posting wishes on each lantern will be part of next year’s Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights.
Leopard and Magpie Lantern
Korean folk art called “Minhwa” consists of paintings of mythical figures and other objects. Animals were the most common figures that represented power and success. Magpies and leopards were one of the most popular animals for this Minhwa. This display is located at the entrance of the Tunnel of Wish Lanterns.
In honour of the Honeymoon Capital of the World, the Festival’s lantern displays also include two Heart Displays that were made specifically to sit on! Take a photo of you and your favourite someone – selfies are allowed – and post it to the Festival Facebook page (Facebook.com/WinterFestivalofLights). We may select random photos as prize winners. It’s said that if you make a wish in a Heart Display it will come true.
Santa in his Sleigh with Reindeer
A modern Western Christmas classic – Santa Claus! This display features him in full ‘present delivery’ mode with his sleigh packed full of gifts for good little boys and girls. The sleigh is led by Rudolph and Comet….or maybe it’s Donner?
Christmas Tree Forest
Also within Queen Victoria Park, you will see the new Christmas Tree Forest. Walk along the pathway in QVP and be dazzled by its 35 colourful, illuminated ‘man-made’ trees, ranging from 4’ to 12’ high.