By Naomi Witherick
Imagine enjoying winter in the mountains whenever you want. Canmore vacation homes make the dream a reality.
Music, theatre, parades, and celebrations galore—the city is abuzz with holiday excitement
By Trevor J. Adams
November and December are lively months in Halifax, with dozens of special events to celebrate the holiday season. Read on for our favourites—with an exciting mix traditional classics and new events, there’s plenty here for the whole family.
The Holiday Parade of Lights on November 19 marks the unofficial start of the holiday season in Halifax, as some 100,000 spectators line downtown streets to see dozens of floats and musical acts. Back downtown on November 26, Grand Parade square in front of Halifax City Hall hosts the city’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting, a family-friendly celebration with live entertainment and a visit from Santa. Also on November 26 (and 27), Halifax Citadel National Historic Site hosts its annual Victorian Christmas, sharing Christmas traditions dating back to colonial days. The party moves across the harbour the next weekend, as the park at Sullivan’s Pond hosts the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting on December 3, where the highlights include the Santa Claus Express Train and fireworks.
Symphony Nova Scotia offers holiday concerts galore. Things start with singer/songwriter David Myles joining the orchestra on December 2 and 3. They’ll perform a mix of Christmas classics and original tunes. Up next is perennial favourite The Nutcracker (presented with Mermaid Theatre and Halifax Dance) running from December 9 to 11 and 15 to 18. Another annual rite of the season, Handel’s Messiah, rounds out the schedule on December 22 and 23. A King’s Christmas is back on December 13. A special guest narrator joins the King’s College Chapel Choir at All Saint’s Cathedral on Martello Street for seasonal songs and stories. Paul Halley directs The holidays get a Celtic twist on December 19, as the Barra MacNeils perform A Cape Breton Christmas at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.
December sees the return of a popular holiday-themed comedy event on December 9 and 10 The annual Ha Ha Halidays event comes to the World Trade and Convention Centre on December 11 and 12, with a lineup that includes comedian Greg Morton, a buffet dinner, and live music with Asia & NuGruv.
Neptune Theatre’s long-awaited holiday production begins on November 22 and continues until December 31. Artistic director George Pothitos adapts the Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street for the stage. The holiday pantomime at Theatre Arts Guild is another seasonal mainstay. It’s always a lively, rollicking show with lots of audience participation. This year, The Frog Prince—A Webbed Pantomime runs from November 24 to December 10.
OUT WITH THE OLD
Grand Parade Square in front of Halifax City Hall on Barrington Street hosts a lively all-ages party beginning at 10:30pm. Performers include Neon Dreams, Christina Martin, Christine Campbell, and Atlantic Cirque. At midnight, the East Coasts’s largest New Year’s Eve fireworks show welcomes 2017.
OUT OF THIS WORLD
November 4 to 6
Hal-Con, Atlantic Canada’s biggest sci-fi convention, returns to the World Trade and Convention Centre on Argyle Street. This year’s guest roster includes Phil LaMarr (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Futurama), Gates McFadden (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Ajay Fry (Innerspace), Natalia Tena (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones), and many others. There will be games, photo and autograph sessions, Q&As, a vendors’ market, screenings, a costume contest, and more.
HONOURING OUR HISTORY
The Halifax Explosion Memorial at the Fort Needham Bell Tower on Novalea Drive, marks the 99th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion. The explosion, the result of a collision involving an ammunition ship on Halifax Harbour, killed thousands and devastated much of the city. To learn more about the disaster, visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on Lower Water Street.
COMEDY WITH AN EDGE
Acerbic and edgy, Ron James is a Canadian comedy favourite and regular headliner at Montreal’s famous Just For Laughs festival. See him at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue.
· November 13: Cecilia Concerts presents A Pocket of Time, a musical tribute to Pulitzer Prize winning poet Elizabeth Bishop, featuring Suzie LeBlanc (soprano), Blue Engine String Quartet, and Robert Kortgaard (piano).
· November 24: The eponymous violinist joins Symphony Nova Scotia for Jonathan Crow and Appalachian Spring, showcasing some of North America’s biggest symphonic hits.
· November 25: Tenor David Pomeroy and pianist Tara Scott share the Dartmouth Community Concert Association stage at Woodlawn United Church in Dartmouth.
Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton makes a rare visit to the East Coast. The Grammy-winning R&B star is sure to offer fans an intimate, memorable show.
The Halifax Mooseheads, the city’s major-junior hockey heroes return from their Christmas break, hosting Cape Breton at the Scotiabank Centre on Duke Street.
THE BEAUTY OF MOVEMENT
December 8 to 10
Live Art Dance Productions presents Major Motion Picture at the Dalhousie Arts Centre. Contemporary-dance duo Out Innerspace (David Raymond and Tiffany Trengarthen) return to Halifax with an innovative new work.
The Canadian country-music legend takes the stage in Casino Nova Scotia’s Schooner Showroom.
One of Texas’s hottest entertainment exports, Carrington brings his Here Comes the Truth stand-up comedy tour to Halifax.
A Nova Scotia native, Canyon is one of Canadian country’s hottest acts. See him at Casino Nova Scotia.
December 12, 13
Tis the season
Wife-and-husband comedy team Bette MacDonald and Maynard Morrison return to the Dalhousie Arts Centre with their annual Christmas show.
The indie-rock singer/songwriter offers a concert at St. Matthew’s Church on Barrington Street celebrating “Christmas, community, family, and singing.
Ring in the New Year at Casino Nova Scotia with one of Canada’s hottest rock-country crossover stars.
By Kim Hart Macneill
TAKE A BREAK
Elements at the Westin Nova Scotian on Hollis Street hosts two holiday brunch series this season. The Holiday Lunch Buffet happens on Thursdays and Fridays from Nov. 24 to Dec 16. The fabulous festive spread includes turkey with all the trimmings. Sundays, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 18, the Festive Holiday Brunch offers an array of local favourites and festive dishes. Both buffets highlight seasonal desserts including yule log and Christmas pudding.
Tucked into the petite Halliburton hotel on Morris Street you’ll find Stories Restaurant, a fine-dining establishment known for attention to detail. Enjoy regional haute cuisine, a careful curated wine list, and artful desserts. Reserve a spot in the cozy library to dine by firelight.
AULD LANG SYNE
The Vine’s Pasta Grill on Panavista Drive in Cole Harbour is an ideal spot to wind-down a hectic day. Enjoy made to order dishes paired with Nova Scotian wines in an relaxed, upscale atmosphere. Save room for dessert because there’s always an array of fresh delights to try.
By Suzanne Rent
OFF TO MARKET
KIDS WITH STYLE
SWEETS OF THE SEASON
Make your holiday a celebration of local talent with a visit to Made in the Maritimes Artisan Boutique in Sunnyside Mall or the Hydrostone. Shop the beautiful selection of local, fine art and paintings by artists from around the region. Quirky cushions made of rich textiles feature nautical logos or regional sayings. A beauty section includes products made from natural ingredients.
These Manitoba makers craft artisanal items that spark conversation and make a statement.
Erin Kembel of EMK Clothing designs with style and comfort in mind. Her studio boutique boasts vibrant printed dresses, bags and tops all made in-store by hand. 143 Sherbrook St, 204‑691‑4414, Map 1: R-2
The spacious loft at The Forks Trading Company showcases the work of more than 250 local makers, including plant-based lip balm from Hogwash Bath & Body. 1 Forks Market Rd, 204‑949‑1785, Map 1: Q-5
Fitness fanatics love the versatile workout gear by LBS Yoga & Athletic Wear. Make each sun salutation a style statement in the breathable and stretchy galaxy printed Trixie legging. Home Run Sports, 20 De La Seigneurie Blvd, 204‑255‑7687, Map 2: E-4
Keepsakes Gallery is stocked with the work of Manitoba artists, including floral greeting cards and acrylic paintings by artist Joy Winter-Schmidt. 626.5 West Broadway, 204-295-9257, Map 1: Q-3
An eclectic mix of Canadian-made wares line the shelves at The Gallery Shop. Glitzy earrings by CJ Tennant (pictured) get their shine from a combination of sterling silver and semi-precious stones. 300 Memorial Blvd, 204-786-6641, Map 1: P-3
After a long walk on the downtown waterfront, visit the shops of Bishop’s Landing on Lower Water Street. For fine jewelry stop into Frida Custom Jewellry Design to purchase custom pieces. Or if you prefer jewels from the sea, Pearl City offers pearl pieces including necklaces, bracelets, and more. The locally owned and operated Alexa Pope has the latest fashions. And for some sweet treats, stop into Sugah for ice cream or candy or Rum Runners Cake Factory for a rum-filled dessert.
Freak Lunchbox Barrington Street and in Sunnyside Mall in Bedford offer must-stop shopping for summer treats when out exploring the area. This colourful store is like a carnival filled with nostalgic sweets such as Pez, Cracker Jacks, and bottled soda from Pop Shoppe. Buy your treats in bulk from the selection or pick a pre-packaged favourite.
For gourmet treats or a basket of sweet goodies, stop into Sweet Jane’s on Queen Street. The staff here will put together arrangements for any tastes or celebrations. Try some gourmet truffles or a basket of retro candies.
EDITORS PICK: FOR FOODIES
For your summer recipes, visit Liquid Gold in The Hydrostone in Halifax or in Sunnyside Mall in Bedford. All the oils here are extra premiums, fresh with unique distinctive flavours. Taste samples on site and have your favourites blended with your choice of balsamic vinegar.
ICE CREAM, WE ALL SCREAM
The aroma of freshly made waffle cones will lure you to Cow’s Ice Cream in the Historic Properties on Lower Water Street. Get a scoop or two from a variety of flavours, including many with local ingredients and catchy names. But there’s more than ice cream here. Browsing the selection of bovine-inspired clothing, giftware, and novelties will mooove you with inspiration.
Located on Cornwallis Street in Halifax’s North End and at Peggy’s Cove, Dee Dee’s produces home-style, fresh ice cream, all with local and seasonal ingredients. Try flavours such as mango, shaker lemon, banana cardamom, and Mexican. Take a tub home for late night treats.
For summer fashions for men or women, shop at Colwell’s on Upper Water Street. Men can check out casual wear, including jeans, pants, t-shirts, or knitwear. Meanwhile, the ladies can browse for dresses, skirts, tops, or visit the selection in the Michael Kors Shop. Or pick up a hot summer look perfect for weddings or festivals.
You can’t bring your BBQ with you to Ottawa, so seek out these culinary delights that sizzle off the grill. Bet it grilled or smoked, here is our guide to the capital’s best BBQ food:
SmoQue Shack: Their philosophy is, “Food comes first… licking the plate comes after.” Put it to the test by digging into everything from pulled pork, brisket and ribs to Jamaican jerk and BBQ chicken. Spotlighted on The Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here, this ByWard Market gem knows how to work a grill and a smoker. The coffee BBQ sauce leads a pack of nine saucy options; the Shack’s hefty combo platters are meant to be shared, and will turn the crowd at your table into regular Fred Flintstones. smoqueshack.com
Ottawa may not be a coastal city, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a beach town.
From the pristine lakes of Gatineau Park to the oft overlooked Ottawa and Rideau Rivers, life’s a beach in the National Capital Region. So take a refreshing dip with our guide to Ottawa-Gatineau’s top beaches:
Philippe Lake: Choose between Breton Beach and Parent Beach, or pack a tent; Smith Beach is for campers only.
Meech Lake: This lake’s advantage is proximity to Ottawa. It’s idyllic waters are only a 30-minute drive without traffic (beat that Toronto!). O’Brien Beach is the family-friendly option, while Blanchet Beach is more remote and serene.
La Pêche Beach: Worth it for the longer, scenic drive through the park. Canoe and kayak rentals are available at Pêche (and at Philippe); escape the beach crowds out on the open water.
Mooney’s Bay Beach: This Rideau River beach entices with sandy shores and picturesque volleyball courts that just happen to play host to HOPE Volleyball Summerfest (July 16), the largest one-day recreational volleyball event in the world.
Britannia Beach: Come for the picnic tables and shaded, mature trees, stay to watch the windsurfing at this west-end gem. Worth the drive, but Britannia Park is also accessible via one of the capital’s most beautiful bike paths.
Leamy Lake Park Beach: This urban beach in Gatineau feels timeless — a throwback to the Leave it to Beaver era. It’s like heading to “the old swimming hole”… only that hole is located in a 174-hectare urban park.
Parc Moussette Beach: This small, sandy beach park is found in west Gatineau, located just across the Ottawa River. The little known hideaway features a great playground, plenty of shade, and often hosts DJs on weekend afternoons.
Petrie Island Beach: Ottawa’s newest beach is home to spellbinding views of the Ottawa River. Work up some sweat before the trip on the island’s seven kilometres of nature trails.
GIFTS THAT GIVE
The Pier 21 Gift Shop at the Canadian Museum of Immigration, on Marginal Road is the place to go for gifts from one of the city’s most unique museums. Get a ball cap for the kids, a book for the history buff, or a pewter gift for the collector. Its line of signature products, including mugs, passport covers, and key tags, are embossed with the museum’s logo.
At the Designer Craft Shop on Marginal Road, Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council members display their works, including artistic etchings, silk clothing, and handmade jewelry. An expert jury approves every item in the shop.
FRESH FROM THE SEA
Lobster is a treat year round, but pick up some fresh crustaceans at Clearwater on Bedford Highway or at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport for your summer gathering or barbecue. Other fresh offerings include clams, snow crab, scallops, shrimp, and masago. The airport location offers lobster securely and freshly packed for travel.
Made in the Maritimes Artisan Boutique in Sunnyside Mall and the Hydrostone Market showcases boutiques of handmade goods, all produced by Maritime artisans. Its owners focus on a buy-local movement and source products such as funky art prints, whimsical handcrafted pillows, fashionable jewelry, and delicious food products.
To find local works of art, the AGNS Gallery Shop at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia on Hollis Street. Find unique and collectible pieces of sculpture, pottery, paintings and more. Maud Lewis is among the many local talents whose work is featured here.
Sweet Pea Boutique on Queen Street has all the best summer dresses for any occasion. Find a basic style for everyday wear, flirtier frocks for weekends, or a cocktail dress for a wedding or other summer celebration. Choose from accessories such as shoes, jewelry, and hair pieces to complete your look.
Turbine on Upper Water Street or in Sunnyside Mall features the work of Canadian designer Lisa Drader-Murphy. There are dresses and tops for all tastes. Browse the belts, shawls, and skincare collection too. Try on the Zain dress, a innovative style that can be worn six different ways. Locally made jewelry and hats round out this boutique’s fare.
Featuring designs by artists from Nova Scotia, Canada, and Israel, Bedazzled in Sunnyside Mall
offers eye-catching jewelry for your summer outfits. Look for brands such as Toni XO, Earth Goddess, and Wendy Jack. Occasional trunk shows give the designers a chance to show off their latest collections.
Beer lovers rejoice! Jamieson’s Irish-House & Grill on Cumberland Drive in Dartmouth boasts 16 taps. Irish favourites share space alongside local craft beers from Propeller, North Brewery, Tatamagouche, and Unfiltered, as do house offerings Jamieson’s IPA and Jamieson’s Special Dark Ale.
Craft cocktails abound at Lot Six (page 61) on Argyle Street. The menu travels through space and time. The 1794 Fish House Punch from London, England, contains Appleton Jamaican rum, cognac, peach brandy, lemon, and black tea. Don’t miss oyster happy hour from 4pm to 6pm daily.
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
Waffle Love on Kaye Street knows that a light, airy waffle is the key to culinary bliss. The compact menu features a traditional waffle with maple syrup, a fruit covered waffle, or sweet toppings like Skor or Oreo crumble.
For heartier fare, try the weekend brunch buffet at Athens Family Restaurant on Quinpool Road. Known for Greek cuisine, this casual spot presents an all-you-can-eat option starring breakfast stalwarts like bacon and eggs, alongside fresh fruit, perogies, fish cakes, Greek sausages, and more.
ON THE RUN
Backoos Korean ToGo Food on Birmingham Street is a nook featuring only a counter and three stools for people awaiting pick-up orders. Deep-fried chicken dominates the menu, which also includes traditional sides like kimchi (fermented cabbage salad) and japchae (sweet potato noodles).
Relish Gourmet Burgers celebrates local history with location-specific burgers at each franchise. Quinpool Road serves the Halifax Explosion topped with fresh pineapple, pancetta bacon, curried onion, and aged cheddar. At Larry Uteck Boulevard, diners can toast the street’s eponymous college-football coach with the Couch-U: topped with balsamic jalapeño blueberry preserves, bacon, crispy pickled peppers, and cheese curds.
LET THEM EAT STEAK
Nothing says big night out like steak. The Keg on Market Street is a long-time favourite, known for classics like the applewood-smoked bacon wrapped tenderloin or the New York strip.
Candle-lit Cut Steakhouse on Salter Street presents USDA prime beef that’s aged and butchered in-house. The à la carte menu invites diners to add a range of sides to their steaks, from frîtes to bread pudding to pan-seared beets.
LOCALS LOVE IT
Tom and Marla Dorward have owned Halifax Folklore Centre on Brunswick Street since 1971. Since then, they have provided musicians and music lovers in the city with a shop where stringed instruments are bought, sold, traded, and consigned. The knowledgeable staff can help clients shop for just about any instrument.
Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia on Spring Garden Road showcases the best work of more than 200 artisans from around the region in its store. Artisans include Cheticamp Hookers, Amos Pewter, Grohmann, Nancy Postman, and many others. Find products for the home such as dishes, cookware, and food, or products for yourself such as bath and body items and jewelry.
Kept Gifts and Housewares, an independently owned and operated boutique on Portland Street in Dartmouth, houses a vast and eclectic collection of handmade and local products. Much of the stock features a Maritime artisan flair. This is a source of well-crafted gifts perfect for any occasion.
To add some heat to your spring wardrobe, visit Fireworks Gallery on Barrington Street. Here, a team of resident goldsmiths will create a distinctive piece of jewelry for your collection. Bring in your ideas, photos, or magazine clippings to help make a piece that includes the best gold, silver, platinum, or gemstones. Designs are created using a combination of Old World techniques such as engraving and filigree with innovative technology.
Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth is one of the region’s largest shopping destinations. Anchored by The Bay, it boasts 120+ shops, including Winners and Homesense, Gap, Old Navy, Peoples, and Lush. Have a break at the food court on the third floor.
On the Halifax side, Halifax Shopping Centre
on Mumford Road is undergoing a transformation, bringing its guests a quality selection of shops and services, all within a new and bright renovated space. Retailers such as Mac, Sephora, Banana Republic, Hollister, and Michael Kors have all set up shop here.
It’s the perfect time of year to explore the great outdoors. Take it Outside in Dartmouth Crossing or Upper Water Street is the place to get geared up for those spring adventures. Suit up with jackets, pants, footwear, backpacks, and more.
Women on the go will love Lolë on Upper Water Street for its spring collection of active wear. Check out their line of organic cotton clothing with fresh looks for spring, including tanks, capris, jumpsuits, leggings, and tunics.
C IS FOR COOKIE
If you love homemade baked treats, visit Susie’s Shortbreads on Upper Water Street and Chain Lake Drive. Take home a dozen cookies or cupcakes, a cake, candy, mini cheesecake, or a frozen treat. All of the sweets are baked from scratch using fresh ingredients. Cupcake batter and cookie dough are available, too, so you can make the treats at home