Toast the new year in Niagara-on-the-Lake

A couple toasts the season with a chilled glass of Icewine at the festival gala in Niagara Falls....

A couple toasts the season with a chilled glass of Icewine at the festival gala in Niagara Falls. (Handout)

Jim Fox, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:22 PM ET

Get the New Year off to the right start with an icy sip in Niagara or a "Go Habs, go" shout out in Montreal.


Ontario's "hottest" winter ticket is the 19th-annual Niagara Icewine Festival, which pays homage to the nectar of frozen grapes at its gala on Jan. 10 at Fallsview Casino Resort's Grand Hall in Niagara Falls.

It will be "an evening of luxury and opulence," said Kimberly Hundertmark, executive director of the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival, who adds that the theme for the 2014 Xerox Icewine Gala is "A Bacchus Evening of Icewine and Revelry."

The gala -- which runs from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. -- will be "Canada's largest showcase of VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) icewines and table wines, and culinary creations that are as delicious as they are beautiful," Hundertmark said.

Forty participating wineries will showcase 150 icewines and other vintages for sampling, while the casino-resort chefs will prepare five "unique culinary stations to tantalize the palate." As well, there will be artisan cheese to savour from the Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Live entertainment and a silent auction cap off the festivities. Tickets cost $185.

The festival's popular Discovery Pass provides opportunities to enjoy eight wine-and-food pairings from 40 places along the Wine Route. The $40 pass can be used Fridays through Sundays for three weekends starting Jan. 10. There is also a $30 pass for designated drivers, with the wineries offering them food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Other events include:

-- Winterfest in the Square (Jan. 24 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Market Square in St. Catharines), which will feature VQA wines from across Niagara Region, "culinary delights" from local restaurants and food trucks, and live musical entertainment.

-- Six seminars on Niagara wine and artisan cheese ($20).

For a complete listing of festival events, contact


Hockey fans can score with a great winter package at Le Centre Sheraton Montreal.

The downtown hotel -- on Rene Levesque Blvd., adjacent to the Bell Centre -- has the Hockey Exclusive package for home games (Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) through the end of the season.

Fans can stay like VIPs with two red section tickets for a Montreal Canadiens' game, luxurious accommodation in a vice-presidential suite and access to the 37th floor Sheraton Club for breakfast and evening hors d'oeuvres, and a welcome gift.

The package is available from $799 per suite for stays through April 12 when booked by Jan. 17.

There is also a Hockey Night special for hotel stays before and after home games from $145 per room, single or double occupancy.