Niagara Falls is already magnificent when the water is flowing over the falls at 68 miles per hour, but seeing those same falls completely frozen over in the winter is something else entirely. If you can endure the frigid temperatures, winter is one of the best times to visit. The falls are especially stunning in the snow as the sunlight reflects off the long ice sheets that stretch across the width of falls and chunks of ice can sometimes be seen falling over the top if it gets really cold. You can also have this pristine beauty basically to yourself as the winter season tends to draw much smaller crowds than in the summer.
Niagara Falls Weather in Winter
Located on the Canadian-U.S. border, Niagara Falls can get very cold in the winter. Average temperatures typically range between highs of 28 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2 degrees Celsius) and lows of 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 degrees Celsius). It starts snowing in Niagara Falls in November and you may even catch a snowfall as late as April, however it typically snows the most toward the end of February. Before your trip, be sure to monitor the forecast for blizzards that may affect your travels.
Average Temperatures by Month
- December: 36 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius)
- January: 30 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 1 degree Celsius)
- February: 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius)
The winter months are the windiest months, which can make the air in Niagara feel even colder, especially at night. In the winter you will have fewer daylight hours to enjoy outside, especially if you visit in December, but if you visit in January or later, you can expect the sun to set at approximately 5 p.m. or later. The full freezing of all three waterfalls is a rare event (the last record of it happening was in 1848) but a partial freeze happens almost every year as long as the temperature falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius).
What to Pack
If you prefer to see Niagara Falls with as few tourists as possible, winter is the best time to go, but make sure you've packed well. Even though there are ways to bide your time indoors where it's warm and toasty, Niagara Falls is a primarily outdoor destination and low winter temperatures can feel even colder when combined with heavy winds and the mist coming off the falls.
In addition to your heavy sweaters, you should also pack some thermal layers and heavy socks. Accessories like gloves, scarves, and a good hat are also must-haves. The sidewalks along the falls can get very icy and be very dangerous, so bring a warm pair of snow boots that have a good grip. Because cold and wet is never a fun combination, make sure your winter coat is waterproof.
Winter Events in Niagra Falls
In the winter, Niagara Falls is simply ethereal. As you stand on the brink of this massive flow of water and ice, you can't help but feel like you're privy to something really special that most people don't get to see. It may not be as busy a time as summer, but there are still many events from holiday lights to wine festivals if you're looking for entertainment beyond the main attraction.
- Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights: It may be cold out, but the fantastic light sculptures at this annual winter festival will be sure to warm up your soul. The festival typically runs from late November until the end of December and is free to walk or drive through.
- New Year's Eve: During New Year's Eve, you'll find many people gathered in front of the waterfall at midnight for fireworks over the falls and there is typically a live concert that gets started around 9 p.m.
- Niagara Grape & Wine Festival: The Niagara Falls region is famous for its ice wine, a dessert wine made from grapes that are frozen on the vine. You can taste-test its uniquely sweet flavor at the annual festival that usually runs in January.
- To increase your chances of seeing the falls partially frozen, you should plan your trip in late January or February when temperatures are typically at their lowest.
- With a lot of mist and freezing temperatures, be careful walking around Niagara Falls in the winter and keep your eye out for black ice.
- You'll be saving on the cost of accommodation by visiting in the winter, so consider splurging on a fun excursion like taking a helicopter tour of the falls to see the snowy landscape from a new angle.
- Rooms with a view of the falls can cost a fortune during the high season, but in winter they are at their lowest and are easier to book.
- Some tours don't run in the winter, but you can still enjoy the popular "Journey Behind the Falls" tour which will take you through the caves that sit behind the waterfall.
To learn more about if you want to visit Niagara Falls int he winter, check out our guide on What to Expect and How to Pack for Niagara Falls Weather.