62nd Annual Niagara Wine Festival

wineIt’s that time of year again! No, not back to school time and no not end of summer… it’s Niagara Wine Festival! Entering it’s 62nd year, this festival helps Niagara locals and visitors celebrate Niagara’s pride and joy; our wine!

As always, there will be Discovery Passes available for purchase for $40, which allows you to discover what each winery has to offer. Throughout the festival, the wineries have paired their favourite wines with some delectable dishes! The Discovery Pass can be used Saturdays and Sundays from September 14th to 29th. It’s a great opportunity to visit some wineries that you’ve never been to before or revisit a few of your favourites.

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This year, I’d like to give a shout out to Creekside Winery, with their Roasty-Toasty pairing. A guest chef at the Best Western Plus Cairn Croft Hotel for our Robbie Burns Celebration, Chef J. Mark Hand has created a roasted heirloom tomato and basil “margarita” tarte with crumbled Ontario Farmer’s cheeses, paired with Creekside’s barrel-aged 2011 Cab Shiraz and 2008 Reserve Pinot Noir. Sounds delicious! Good job Mark!wine3

wine4Another fun event that caught my eye was the Picnic In The Vineyard at Cattail Creek Estate Winery. For only $15/person, you can enjoy a picnic basket filled with assortments of meats, cheeses and antipastos, along with some home-made cookies for dessert. Of course, all of this will be complimented with a glass of wine, surrounded by a beautiful vineyard.  Guys! Here’s a hint… this is really romantic.

wine5And what Niagara Wine Festival blog post would be complete without mention of the big party that goes on in Montebello Park, starting on September 20th- 22nd and again 27th-29th. Lots of delicious food vendors, amazing wine displays and fun entertainment too! Friday, September 27th, the Caverners will be playing from 8-10:30pm, another Best Western Plus Cairn Croft connection… who have played live from The Croft Lounge! For a full list of Montebello Park’s lineup, check out their website.

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So here’s to celebrating the amazing wineries that Niagara has to offer… and whether you have traveled from around the world or down the street, I hope that Niagara’s wine is enjoyed with good food, great friends and creates lasting memories.

A BBQ and Band at Queenston Heights

Queenston HeightsWe’ve spent the day at Queenston Heights before and we’ve told you about the family fun you can have. But this Sunday, August 25th, it can be even more special, with the Annual Harvest BBQ and a live band concert before that.

Queenston Height’s Restaurant will be hosting a BBQ, at the foot of Brock Monument at 4:00pm. For only $40/adult and $20/child, you can enjoy delicious seasonal creations. Duck Breast on Yukon Potato Cake with Blackberry Drizzle, Grilled Market Antipasto Salad, Rainbow Trout with Apricot- Jalapeno Salad, Angus sliders, Niagara Peaches and Cream corn, BBQ Baby Back Ribs and more.

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Before the BBQ, spend the day enjoying the park and from 2-4pm, the Lincoln Concert Band will be playing. The Lincoln Concert Band is a community band, made up of 35 volunteer musicians. It’s a great opportunity to take in some big band music for free!

With a beautiful weather forecast for this weekend, I think the day spent at Queenston Heights will be a terrific way to spend a Sunday. Whether you are a local looking for something different to do, or a visitor looking for more than just a Maid of the Mist ride, take advantage of what Queenston Heights is offering!

For tickets to the BBQ, call 905-262-4274.

Victoria Day in Niagara

queen_victoria_partay_3In Canada, Victoria Day started in 1845 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday on May 24th, as the mother of Confederation. The Canadian government marked that the Monday before May 25th would be the day every year that Canadians would honour Queen Victoria’s Birthday, as well as celebrate the reigning sovereign’s birthday as well.

To most Canadians however, Victoria Day means shaking off the spring time showers of April and kicking off the summer season! Niagara Falls is the perfect place to celebrate Victoria Day with lots of exciting attractions and great outdoor activities, not to mention the famous firework display over the Falls!niagara-falls-fireworks

skywheelThere are some different ways to celebrate the long weekend here in Niagara Falls. For a more action packed long weekend, why not try your luck at the Casino and then walk down Clifton Hill and ride on the SkyWheel for a perfect view of the Falls. Be prepared to wait in some lines and have it a little crowded; this option seems to be a visitor favourite.

Port DalhousieOr if you are looking for a different way to celebrate your long weekend, a hike through the Niagara Gorge would be a great nice weather activity or a walk along the Niagara parkway. Of course, after that you would need to wet your whistle with some patio drinks along Lundy’s Lane at the Croft Lounge at The Best Western Plus Cairn Croft!

This year, the GO train will be running from Toronto to Niagara throughout the whole Victoria Day weekend! Plan your visit with the train schedule and avoid the traffic that usually follows the holidays.

 

St. Catharines Museum 1812

Postcards from Niagara has visited a few historical sites on our adventures and it still amazes me that so many pivotal moments in Canadian history happened in our own backyard. I’ve brought you information about historical cemeteries, the Laura Secord Homestead, the McFarland House and even Fort George, so bringing you info on the new war exhibit entitled 1812 at the St. Catharines Museum is a no brainer!

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1812This exhibit will be running from April 6th to August 18th and is brought to you by the St. Catharines Musuem and the Welland Canals Centre. This road show is a version of an award winning exhibit found in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. You don’t have to travel to our country’s capital to find all of the historic information!

1812 features the perspective of four different groups who experienced the war: Canadians (including Canadian First Nations), Americans, British and Native Americans. This holistic approach to historical story telling provides the audience with a unique viewpoint to create their own thoughts and conclusions. Some of the people featured in the exhibit include: Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, Francis Scott Key (the writer of the American national anthem) and the Shawnee leader Tecumseh.

Admission is by donation, so pay what you feel that the experience is worth to you, but remember that learning experiences such as these do cost money to run and it is important for all Canadians to be educated on our past. To further educate yourself, visit some of the historical sites that I mentioned earlier, found all around the Niagara region. And finally, make sure you make a stop at the Niagara Falls History Museum!

Niagara Sugar Bush Adventure

Go on a Sugar Bush Adventure at White Meadows Farm in St. Catharines from now until March 30th. Perfect for families looking for a fun filled day, the Sugar Bush Adventure is a self guided tour back in the bush with presentations, re-enactors, campfires and tons of information on the development of maple syrup production through the years.
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Historic Holiday in Niagara

With all of the history found the Niagara Region, a unique holiday experience can be had; a historic holiday, if you will. Both the McFarland House and the Laura Secord Homestead this year will be putting on holiday events. The McFarland Christmas tea is happening this weekend where you can enjoy a historic setting and a wonderful afternoon tea. An admission fee of $5.00 will cover your tour of the house and the full tea menu with holiday inspiration will be available.

After you are finished with your afternoon tea, make your way to the Laura Secord Homestead that will be decorated in period Christmas decorations. See how Niagara looked for Christmas during the war and if you have never been to the house before, the tour and stories are worth the trip alone.

Merry Historic Holidays!

Drummond Hill Cemetery Tour

This walking tour through the cemetery is unlike any walking tour you have ever heard of before. This tour of Drummond Hill Cemetery is complete with theatrical performances throughout that show you a glimpse into the lives of some of the permanent residents of the cemetery. It is a fun way to learn about our city’s history and maybe get a little spooked out too! There are refreshments at the end of the tour as well. If this sounds like something that is right up your alley, the tour departs at the cemetery gates on Buchner Place, off of Drummond at 7pm, 8pm and 9pm. Tickets are $12/person and must be purchased in advance, call 905-358-5082. Tours are offered this month on weekends!

Niagara on the Lake Walking Tour

When you go to a new city, you often wander around and wonder what it’s all about. The answer to these questions can usually be found with a walking tour! Luckily, in Niagara on the Lake, there is a walking tour available every weekend October through April. When I travelled to Europe in the summer I found that the walking tours gave me a new appreciation for each city that I was in because not only was I able to take in the beauty, I understood more about what the city truly meant. I think it’s wonderful that Niagara on the Lake offers this to tourists and even locals. Niagara on the Lake is home to so many fun festivals, beautiful wineries, delishious restaurants and of course packed full of history!

This 90 minute tour will take you through more than 20 historic, beautiful sites of Niagara on the Lake with the tour guides explaining the significance of each of them every step of the way. The tours start at 10:30am and tickets are available at a cost of $20 for adults, $10 children and can either be purchased online or at The Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau (26 Queen Street). Just across the street is the meeting place at Corks Wine Bar & Eatery!

Niagara Falls History Museum

This past July the Niagara Falls History Museum revealed the new Ferry Street museum and all the hard work that has gone into the renovations. Not only does the museum look wonderful but it also offers some great programming to the city of Niagara Falls. There are currently three galleries in the museum for us to enjoy: The Gale Family War of 1812, Niagara Falls and Ontario Power Generation galleries.

Thursday nights the galleries are open free of charge from 5-9pm, perfect for a cheap date night or showing the kids some of the town’s history. Along with the free galleries, there will also be Thursday night programming throughout the year with the Philosopher’s Cafe and Niagara on Screen. Niagara on Screen is hosted by Professor Joan Nicks and starts at 7pm, exposing films that involve Niagara Falls.

Throughout the last month of the summer, make sure you take advantage of Summer Sun Days. Taking place at Battle Ground Hotel Museum with a donation to participate, there are different themed activities happening from 11am-5pm once a week.

War of 1812 Niagara Bicentennial

This year marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the Niagara region has lots planned to celebrate the 200 years of peace that arose after the war. On Friday June 15th at Fort George there will be a opening celebration with military bands, musket and cannon demos and of course food and wine! Saturday marks the eve of the declaration of war with a Military Ball put on by the Niagara-on-the-Lake Historical Society and Museum. A delicious period dinner and celebration – period dress is not necessary but encouraged! Or you can go black tie if you don’t have a costume lying around. Make sure to check out the official Bicentennial Website and the Niagara-on-the-Lake website to find out about the different events that will be happening throughout the summer.