Were you glued to your TV during the paddling races at the Olympics last summer? Nothing compares to the thrill of watching a live canoe or kayak race, and this weekend Welland hosts some of the world’s best paddlers at Canoe Niagara. Make the most of your visit with these tips:
Pick your vantage point
Most of the races are either 500 or 1000 metres in length. This gives you a great chance to check out all stages of the race, from the excitement of the starting line, to the thrill of watching a close finish at the end of the race. Along the south side of the Welland Canal you can walk the length of the course and choose your favourite place to watch.
Women’s K4 teams warming up for the semi-finals
Check out the new racing centre
The Welland International Flatwater Centre (WIFC) is perched on the edge of the river and offers media, spectators and competitors the perfect view of the finish line. In 1972, a new shipping channel for the Welland Canal was diverted east of the City and the Welland Recreational Waterway was created. Known as the “Old Canal,” this landscaped water park runs through the heart of the City of Welland and you can enjoy a bike ride or walk between races.
In the coming years there will be lots of action here as the WIFC will play host to the 2015 Pan American Games Canoe Kayak races and the 2015 World Dragon Boat Racing Championships.
Welland International Racing Centre from the 250 M mark
Bring your team spirit
Teams from across the world will be competing over the four day regatta bringing along fans from all over as well! Get ready to cheer on Canadian teams as they aim to take home some hardware for their home country.
Grab a bite at the Shoreline Festival
Bring your appetite to the races! Across from the finish line you’ll find the Shoreline Festival with food trucks, a beer and wine garden, live music and more. Make sure to give the Big Guys BBQ “Big Messy” pulled pork sandwich a try – topped with homemade coleslaw and lots of sauce you’ll need extra napkins for this one.
“The Big Messy” at Big Guys BBQ
Welland is in the heart of Niagara’s Wine Country, and there are a number of wineries within a 25 minute drive of Canoe Niagara. Nearby Henry of Pelham is a St. Catharines estate with a selection of red, white, and icewines made exclusively from local grapes. Tours of the winery run at 1:30 pm daily and you can enjoy their cafe until 5 pm most days.
After taking in a day of canoe and kayak racing, you may be inspired to get active on some of the nearby trails. Silent Hill Provincial Park has a picturesque trailhead in a vineyard, and from here you can hike to some beautiful vantage points of the region. Just off of Decew Road you’ll find the Historic Morning Star Mill (with a working grist mill!) and the Laura Secord Trail which leads you to beautiful Decew Falls. Keep in mind – many of these hikes take you through the steep Niagara Escarpment, so be sure to dress appropriately.
For more information on planning your visit to the Welland Area check out Visit Niagara.