The Great "Icescape" - A Trip to the Niagara Icewine Festival

A brick clocktower and Canadian flagpole climb into the sky in a small village.

The Niagara Icewine Festival is the perfect way to celebrate winter in Ontario, and the innovative wineries who pioneered icewine production in Ontario. It’s also a wonderful way to explore the Niagara Region, which is transformed into magical winter wonderland for the festival every year. 

What is the Niagara Icewine Festival? 

The Niagara Icewine Festival is an annual event attracting thousands of wine loving enthusiasts from all around. It takes place over three weekends every January. The festival, created to showcase the delicious Icewine of Ontario, has been known to turn the entire region into a roaring event where guests explore the region's wineries via tasting tours and other events such as ice skating, chestnut roasts, Icewine Brunch, and even the Icewine Gala- all of which are extremely fun to attend.  

The festival is perfect for weekend getaway with friends or a significant other because there is something for everything. However, you really do need to plan your stay and activities in advance to make the most of your time at the festival.  

How is Icewine Made?  

This delicious dessert wine is produced from grapes that have been left on the vine after the fall harvest. When temperatures dip below -8° the frozen grapes are handpicked and pressed to release a rich, yellow-gold liquid, which is highly concentrated in natural sugars and acidity. This means that the grapes are often harvested in the early hours of the morning at short notice – brr!  

How to Make the Most of Your Time at the Niagara Icewine Festival 

Whether you love learning about wines, or want to get out and embrace winter, there’s lots to discover at the Icewine Festival. Get started with a wander in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake at the Shimmer of Gold Street Festival. 

Nightowls, good news. The party keeps going after the sun goes down, and there are plenty of fun activities to keep the night interesting. Icewine lovers must bundle up and make their way to Flash & Panache, the annual Icewine Cocktail Competition. This is where judges sample delicious ice wine medleys, with unique garnishes like marshmallows, cotton candy and popcorn. And where else can you enjoy your drink from a frozen glass at an ice bar? 

If you are a newbie to icewine, the festival offers the perfect program. Get Schooled in Cool takes place at different wineries, and gives you the chance to celebrate the intricate flavours of icewine, plus get a peek inside the winery. You can get yourself more familiar by going on one of the many winery tours throughout the region. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself becoming an expert in no time! 

The wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake are just a short drive from Niagara Falls and more than worth the visit. There are numerous wineries in the region, and each of them have their own delicious blends that will surprise and delight you and your tastebuds. Remember to grab a bottle (or case) to take back home with you. 

And finally, don't let your time at the festival end here. Continue your wintry weekend with a visit to the icy wonder that is famous around the world by taking the Journey Behind the Falls tour. Highly recommend that you follow this up by exploring along the parkway to get views that are simply magical and very much worth photographing- particularly in winter.  

Be sure to book your hotel/ accommodations well in advance because rooms tend to get booked up really quickly—and you don’t want to get left out in the cold.  

Some things to do may not be available due to COVID-19.

For the most up-to-date information on where and when it is safe to travel please visit: covid-19.ontario.ca