Cascades of Fire in Niagara Falls

For the first time ever, the Winter Festival of Lights (WFOL), a not-for-profit organization, will host the Cascades of Fireworks Competition in Niagara Falls.

WFOL is one of the longest festivals in the world, running from November 3 to January 31 nightly from 5:00 p.m. to approximately midnight.

This year the signature event will be the Cascades of Fire competition. WFOL was founded 36 years ago in Ontario and is Canada’s largest illumination festival. Each year this event attracts over 1.5 million viewers and 450 coaches, all to Niagara Falls.

This event sees the illumination of 15 wildlife displays, over 50 trees wrapped in lights, the world’s largest Canadian-American flag, a light show and other creations. On top of all of these magical light displays found at the WFOL, this year a Fireworks competition will be hosted between countries for two consecutive weekends in November.

This competition features 18 minutes of a pyrotechnic show synchronized to music. Teams competing this year have thus far included Team China, Team Finland and Team Brazil, with Team Vietnam on Nov. 16, Team Italy on Nov. 17 and Team Canada presenting the finale on Nov. 18.

“Cascades of Fire is a world-class competition and the teams participating are judged in five key areas, with a maximum of 20 points awarded in each category,” said Amanda MacDonald, a teaching assistant in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies who has been organizing this event through her capacity as Vice-President of Internal Affairs for the Graduate Student Association.

“Theme and choice of music, creativity, selection of effects and use within the display, synchronization to the music selection and crowd reaction and appreciation are the areas that teams are judged in. At the end of each display, jury members will rate the performance accordingly,” said MacDonald.

At the closing ceremony Mayor of Niagara Falls Jim Diodati will present awards for noteworthy performances.

Each show can be seen for free in Niagara Falls and the Graduate Students Association is offering free transportation to its members.

“It’s all part of our 2018-2019 initiative to bring unique and diverse events to our student membership. From our knowledge, this event rotates countries, and Canada won the 2018 bid,” said MacDonald.

The association is funding two pick-up and drop-off locations: the International Student Centre Services building and the bus terminal in downtown St. Catharines, with pick-up times of 7:45 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. respectively. Both locations have return trips after 10:00 p.m.

Although there is not a fee for this event, donations are accepted for the ongoing maintenance and repair of the light display. WFOL is a not-for-profit organization and volunteers are the main contributors to this event.

“This event brings communities together and I love to know that I play a part in that,” said Lucinda Balt, a member of the Niagara community and an avid volunteer at the WFOL. “I think it’s important for everyone to experience this event whether you are a participant, a volunteer or a visitor. It never fails to get me into the Christmas season and I love seeing the joy and excitement on people’s faces when they attend. This year, the fireworks competition is a great addition and I can’t wait to see more and more people come out to watch each team compete.”

For more information on this event contact Amanda MacDonald, at the Graduate Students Association office or head to


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