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Sunday, February 5, 2023
Niagara-on-the-Lake’s 28th annual Icewine Festival is fast approaching
Niagara-on-the-Lake's 28th annual Icewine Festival is just around the corner. Supplied

It’s almost time to start sipping icewine at Niagara-on-the-Lake’s 28th annual Icewine Festival.

“It’s such a signature event to Niagara-on-the-Lake and I think it’s also significant to what we do here in Niagara-on-the-Lake – which is icewine,” says Andrew Niven, chair of the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism NOTL.

The festival celebrates all things icewine with a focus on the Icewine Village, he noted.

The Icewine Village will take over Queen Street on Jan. 21 and 22 and then again on Jan. 28 and 29.

“We have 18 local wineries (and) we have probably 12 different food vendors. And we all come together and we create this village,” Niven said excitedly.

Inniskillin, Jackson-Triggs Winery and Konzelmann Estate Winery are just some of the well-known vintners participating.

Masaki Sushi, Aura on the Lake and the Winery Restaurant by Peller Estates are among the culinary options available to guests.

There will also be guest speakers, like Andrea Kaiser, who will be doing an introduction to Niagara icewine history. There will also be mixology and cooking demonstrations.

An outdoor stage will feature live music.

This year organizers are focusing a lot on the culinary aspect of the festival, too.

To help do that, they’re launching the first-ever VIP lounge, with fire pit tables and muskoka chairs, plus a fleece-style blanket to cozy up with.

VIP passes start at $182 and six tokens for icewine tastings, icewine cocktails and different culinary options to satisfy their taste buds.

Another key part of the festival is the Sparkle and Ice Gala that will kick everything off on Jan. 20 in the ballroom of the old Court House. Tickets are $160 per person.

Guests will have a chance to not only taste some local food and try some of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s best icewine, but talk to the winemakers themselves about their delicious creations.

Between 10:30 and 11 p.m., guests will be invited outside and given a glass of icewine to celebrate the start of the festival while fireworks light up the night sky.

Niven described it as a “mix and mingle” sort of night.

The gala will be much different than the Icewine Cocktail Competition, scheduled for Jan. 28.

That’s when wineries and restaurants alike will come up with an icewine concoction in a friendly competition, said Niven.

Included in the $75 ticket price are three cocktails and charcuterie boards.

“There’s live music, a live DJ, there’s photo booths, so it’s a bit more fun and upbeat and definitely more casual in comparison to the gala,” he said.

Guests will vote for their favourite cocktail and the winners will be announced later that evening.

Niven is expecting a huge turnout for this year’s festival, since it’s one of the first “normal” years back since the pandemic began.

“I think people are ready to get out and they want to kind of go back to some normalcy,” he said.

Details, details: Visit the Icewine Village on Jan. 21 and 22, then again on Jan. 28 and 29. On Saturdays the village will be open between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

While entry to the village is free, guests can purchase individual tokens for $6, an icewine glass for $5 or an icewine festival pack for $35.

Tickets for the gala are $160 per person. It runs 8 to 11 p.m. on Jan 20. Tickets for the cocktail competition are $75 per person. It from 7 to 10 p.m. on Jan. 28.

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