by Karen Huefner

I’m always looking for new ways to experience Christmas year after year. Between the shopping, decorating and cookie-baking I feel like there’s little time for anything else! Don’t get me wrong, it’s imperative I watch ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ and the Holiday Pops concert with the BPO is a must but I always crave something different. This year I found it. I took a ride north of Buffalo to Youngstown, NY, home to Old Fort Niagara. For two weekends in December the Fort comes to life for their annual Colonial Christmas by Candlelight event.

Having been to the Fort numerous times when I was younger, I was familiar with the grounds. However with the chance to experience the Fort in the evening, that was a whole new ballgame. I arrived at the park around 8pm, sun already set, snow on the ground and a crisp breezing blowing in off Lake Ontario. Ladies, leave your heels at home for this…boots are a must.

I stayed at the Fort about an hour and a half watching (and partially covering my ears for) the firing of the Christmas guns, mixing and mingling with the soldiers, sampling some holiday cooking and clapping along to the music. It’s about as close as one can get to experiencing an 18th century Christmas.

This is the last weekend for Christmas by Candlelight. Make this a new holiday tradition with your family. Oh, and bring your flashlight!

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by Susan Braun

OldFortNiagara-soldiersWith the 4th of July rapidly approaching, history buffs will be flocking to Old Fort Niagara July 3-5 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the 1759 Siege of Niagara. If you’ve never seen a true-to-life re-enactment of an historical battle, here’s your opportunity to view one up close and personal. The largest Living History encampment ever undertaken by Ft. Niagara will be only one of the highlights of an event-filled weekend that will include a night time artillery bombardment with fireworks, military skirmishes, musket volleys and an attack of the French schooner Iroquoise that will be anchored the cove below Fort Niagara. More than 2,500 people will literally assume the personas of British, French and American soldiers and Native American warriors to recreate events from the siege that are as historically accurate as possible. Living history camps will be set up inside the fort where the re-enactors will live during the siege, just as they did back in the day. You’ll be able to walk through those camps to see demonstrations of how people lived in the mid-1700s including how they dressed and talked, and spent their days.

Just to brush up on your American history, the French and Indian War took place between 1754 and 1763 when Britain and France were fighting over control of North America. Fort Niagara was built by the French to protect the portage between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and was a highly desirable prize for the British because it protected the supply line for the many French outposts between Quebec and Illinois. In July 1759, the British and their American and Native American Indian partners attacked Fort Niagara. When the dust settled on the siege 3 weeks later, the French surrendered the fort to the British who then gained control of the Great Lakes. When the entire war ended in 1763, France signed a peace treaty that included the surrender of Canada to the British.

The Old Fort Niagara re-enactment is this year’s signature event for the New York State French and Indian War 250th Anniversary Commemoration. In other words, it’s a must see event. In addition to the battle re-enactments, there will be an art show, 18th century baking, blacksmithing and fur trading demonstrations and a food court. Tickets for the event can be purchased at the door and are $13 per person. Children under age 6 are free. You can learn more about the daily schedule of programs at or by calling 716-745-7611. Hope to see you there!!

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