Cascades of Fire

The skies over Niagara Falls haven’t been this bright and loud since the cannon balls flew 200 years ago during the War of 1812.

It’s all due to Cascades of Fire, a first-time event for this city that will see international teams of pyrotechnics experts compete to see who can put on the best fireworks show.

Already, Team Brazil has taken a big lead in the people’s choice awards for Cascades of Fire, on the Winter Festival of Lights website – and the fireworks haven’t even started yet.

The festival – helped in a big way by several sponsors, including the Fallsview Business Improvement Area group – organized this year’s competition that runs over two weekends in November.

It will see teams from China (Nov. 9), Finland (Nov. 10), Brazil (Nov. 11), Vietnam (Nov. 16), Italy (Nov. 17) and Canada (Nov. 18) compete for bragging rights (and a top prize of $5,000) for their pyrotechnic performances, all set to music.

Shows will last about 18 minutes each night, all starting at 9 p.m.

“It’s going to be spectacular,” said Niagara Falls Tourism chair and city councillor Wayne Thomson, in an interview with Niagara This Week.

Added festival of lights executive director Tina Myers: “It will be a whole new spectacle the likes of which Niagara has never seen.”

Teams will be judged by a panel of observers in five categories – theme and choice of music, creativity, selection of effects and use within the display, synchronization to the music selection, and crowd reaction and appreciation.

The fireworks displays are expected to cover about 1,500 feet of ground and shoot up to 1,200 feet into the sky over the falls. They can be seen for miles and miles.

Meanwhile, the 36th annual Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights that started in early November continues beyond Christmas and through to Jan. 31, every night.

There is no charge to enjoy the large-scale displays placed around the falls area, Dufferin Islands, through the Fallsview tourist district and around Clifton Hill.

More than two million individual lights were used on the displays, many of which are interactive. There’s a seesaw that lights up as you ride it, and one called Light Piano 2.0 that performs a symphony of light as you play the keyboard.

“People want an experience, they want the wow! factor, right?” Myers told the Niagara Falls Review.

More than 15 new LED lighting displays have been added this year, and illuminations include everything from flashing messages and Christmas scenes to movie and animal characters.

The lighting is displayed every night – suitable for a driving tour through the tourism district, or great for walking too, which allows you to try the interactive exhibits.

The entire Fallsview area, which is centred on Niagara Fallsview Boulevard, is a fiesta of entertainment every night, especially around Christmas and New Year.

Numerous restaurants, bars, top-quality hotels, spas and nightspots are here, as is the Niagara Fallsview Casino, IMAX theatre, Skylon Tower, the Fallsview Arcade and Niagara Freefall – and that’s just to name a few.