• eat
  • shop
  • see
  • go
  • stay
  • daytrip
  • map
  • calendar
  • transport
  • weather
  • currency
  • tofrom

Halifax

Making merry

By Trevor J. Adams

Victorian Christmas. Photo: Parks Canada

Victorian Christmas. Photo: Parks Canada

November and December are lively months in Halifax, with dozens of special events marking 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.

PARTY PEOPLE
The Holiday Parade of Lights on November 15 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 22, 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 22, 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 November 29, where the highlights include the Santa Claus Express Train and fireworks.

CRAFTY CHRISTMAS
Back for its 37th year, Christmas at the Forum is one of Canada’s largest annual indoor markets of its type, with some 450 vendors offering art, gifts, antiques and food. The Halifax Forum on Windsor Street hosts on November 7 and 8. Another beloved market, the Dalplex Christmas Craft Market returns on November 28 to 30, as Dalplex on South Street showcases dozens of Atlantic Canadian vendors.

JOYFUL MUSIC

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker

Symphony Nova Scotia offers holiday concerts galore, with A Merry Cable Christmas (featuring contemporary holiday classics) on November 27 and 28, The Nutcracker (presented with Mermaid Theatre and Halifax Dance) on December 5 to 14, and Handel’s Messiah on December 19 and 20. A King’s Christmas is back on December 14. Canadian actress and author Shelley Thompson joins the King’s College Chapel Choir at All Saint’s Cathedral on Martello Street for seasonal songs and stories. The holidays get a Celtic twist on December 21, as the Barra MacNeils perform an East Coast Christmas at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

HILARIOUS HOLIDAYS
December sees the return of a pair of popular holiday-themed comedy events. On December 8 and 9, Cape Breton comic Bette MacDonald returns to the Dalhousie Arts Centre with her annual Tis the Season show. The annual Ha Ha Halidays event comes to the World Trade and Convention Centre on December 12 and 13, with Derek Edwards hosting an evening of stand-up comedy.

PLAY ON

Halifax Christmas Tree. Photo: Tammy Fancy

Halifax Christmas Tree. Photo: Tammy Fancy

Neptune Theatre’s long-awaited holiday production begins on November 25. A Christmas Story, based on the much loved-tale of young Ralphie’s efforts to secure a BB gun, continues through January 4. 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, it runs from November 27 to December 13. And it just wouldn’t be Christmas without Scrooge. Jeremy Webb brings his remarkable one-man performance of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to Neptune Theatre on Argyle Street on December 23, 24 and 26.

AULD LANG SYNE
Finally, head to Grand Parade square in front of Halifax City Hall on December 31 to say farewell to 2014 and welcome 2015. The New Year’s Eve celebration kicks off at 10:30pm, featuring live entertainment and Atlantic Canada’s largest fireworks celebration at midnight.

Hot Shopping

By Suzanne Rent

Lost-Cod-1-web

EAST COAST STYLE

For unique Nova Scotian designs, visit The Lost Cod on Lower Water Street. It boasts an array of hoodies, t-shirts, aprons and crew-neck sweaters, customized with designs celebrating the province’s heritage—defunct sports teams, seafaring history and well-known local companies.

Bishop's-015-web

TOAST OF THE TOWN

•Bishop’s Cellar on Lower Water Street carries more than 800 imported and local wines suitable for every palate and budget. Knowledgeable staff will help you choose the best selection for a dinner party or gift. There’s also an extensive selection of local and imported craft beers and specialty liquers.

Premier Wine and Spirits on Dresden Row specializes in unique wines, beers and spirits. The staff will show you their stock of 400 wines from around the world, a large variety of craft and specialty import beers or single-malt scotch, fine vodkas, tequilas and liqueurs. Wine accessories and gift cards also available.

IMG_5314-web

EDITOR’S CHOICE

If you’re headed out for a night on the town or a dinner date, drop into Urban 30 Blowdry Bar on Barrington Street to freshen up your look. This is Atlantic Canada’s first salon of its sort, offering convenient wash and blow-dry services for those in a rush. Indulge in a retro high roller treatment and sit under the hooded dryer. Manicures, waxing and threading are on the aesthetics menu, too.

Sugah

Sugah

SWEET SATISFACTION

•For a quick after-dinner treat or gift for a sweet-toothed friend, Susie’s Shortbreads on Upper Water Street or Chain Lake Drive bakes up cupcakes, cookies, whoopee pies and more. The signature shortbreads come in 15 flavours and there are 100 varieties of cupcakes. Everything is made from scratch.

Sugah on Lower Water Street is a dessert-lovers’ dream. All of the confections are locally handcrafted with traditional techniques and fresh ingredients. The chocolates are made in small batches and include coatings or fillings from local ingredients such as sea salt, cranberries and coffee. Be sure to try a scoop of handpaddled ice cream.

Halifax-Folklore-web

MUSIC AND MORE

The Halifax Folklore Centre on Brunswick Street specializes in stringed instruments, including guitars, violins, basses, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles and more. You can bring in instruments for purchase, sale, trade, consignment, repairs or appraisals. The staff are musicians themselves and can help you choose the best instrument for your needs and talent.

Spring-Garden-Place-1-web

CENTRE OF SHOPPING

Spring Garden Place on Spring Garden Road offers boutique shopping in a mall atmosphere in the convenient and bustling downtown core. Find flower shops at My Mother’s Bloomers, cocktail dresses and gowns at All Dressed Up, unique handcrafted jewellery at The Vault, hosiery, sleepwear and other accessories at Sock It To Ya, and artwork and paintings at Tom Rideout Art. It’s also home to Mills, one of the city’s landmark shopping institutions.

Concierge Q&A

Unknown-1-webSandra Smith is a concierge for Air Canada at Halifax Stanfield International Airport. She joined the airline industry 25 years ago after graduating from Saint Mary’s University. She has a deep passion for the hospitality and travel industry and joined the membership of Les Clefs d’Or Atlantic Region earlier this year.

What’s your favourite holiday event in Halifax?

The Parade of Lights—when the sun goes down on November 15, close to 100,000 people will line the streets of downtown Halifax to feel the magic and ignite the spirit of the holiday season.

What’s your favourite undiscovered restaurant downtown?

Le Bistro by Liz on South Park Street has an upbeat staff, charming Parisian décor and a welcoming atmosphere. The menu offers French inspired favourites and there’s live entertainment Wednesdays through Saturdays.

What’s the best place to find a unique memento of your visit to Halifax?

If you are fortunate enough to be in Halifax in November, don’t miss the Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council Christmas Show at Cunard Event Centre, from November 21 to 23. There will be lots of unique contemporary fine crafts by local artisans.

What’s the best way to spend a blustery winter day in Halifax?

The best way to spend a blustery winter day in Halifax would be cozied up by a fireplace enjoying a locally crafted beer either at The Henry House on Barrington Street or downstairs at the Fireside on Brunswick Street. The casual atmosphere at both of these venues would melt all thoughts of the cold blowing snow outside!

What is Halifax’s must-visit attraction?

The city’s top must-visit attraction is Halifax Citadel National Historic Site. Within the walls of this fortress is an interesting Army Museum. Don’t miss the annual Victorian Christmas at the Citadel on November 22 and 23.

October Hot Dining

By Janice Hudson

woodys-Percy-with-Adam-web

BACK TO THE GRILL
Woody’s Bar-B-Q has returned to Hector Gate in Dartmouth Crossing. Savour the menu of authentic Southern classics like baby back ribs and pulled pork. On Mondays, try the all-you-can-eat wings for $10. The refurbished family-friendly restaurant now has a children’s play area.

Ryan Duffy's. Photo: Janice Hudson

Ryan Duffy’s. Photo: Janice Hudson

CLASSIC DINING

•Dry-aged Alberta AAA steaks cut and weighed table side are the specialty at Ryan Duffy’s a chic steakhouse on Bedford Row. Pick from a selection of flavourful extras to enhance your meat choice, including bacon jam, creamed spinach and Béarnaise sauce.

•On the corner of Prince and Market streets, The Keg offers a classic steakhouse experience. Pick from a range of regular and specialty cuts plus mouth-watering seafood dishes. The house-made Caesar salad with aged parmesan is a highlight.

IMG_0802-web

GET ME TO THE GREEK
A local favourite for over 30 years, Athens Restaurant on Quinpool Road is the spot to hit for a hearty breakfast. On weekends, come early as the booths fill up fast. Return for lunch and sample flavourful Greek dishes, including souvlaki, moussaka and other specialties.

Cheelin. Photo: Julé malet-veale

Cheelin. Photo: Julé malet-veale

THE SPICE ROUTE

•A downtown mainstay since 1984, Great Wall on Bedford Row boasts an array of Cantonese and Szechuan dishes, such as Kung Po shrimp and Singapore vermicelli. Owner Patrick Wong uses fresh local vegetables and house-made marinades. On Sundays from 11:30am to 3pm., try the tasty Dim Sum.

Cheelin has been serving up Szechuan and Beijing cuisine in the historic Brewery Market on Lower Water Street for over 20 years. The Friday buffet is a local favourite, featuring many MSG-free dishes seasoned with traditional spices. You can’t go wrong with ginger beef or wonton soup.

pizza-web2

PIZZA PERFECTION
An anchor of the stylish Hydrostone neighbourhood on Young Street, Salvatore’s Pizzaiolo Trattoria creates scratch-made artisanal pizzas. Pick from over 12 original and specialty pizza combinations, plus a range of hearty oven-baked heroes (the meatball sandwich is a must try). Free delivery on the Halifax peninsula.

Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Photo: NS Tourism Agency

SEAFOOD IN STYLE
On Lower Water Street, McKelvie’s takes fresh seafood to new creative heights. Try the pulled lobster poutine or the blackened salmon with pineapple mango salsa. The crunchy haddock is a top seller among lunch and dinner crowds, boasting creamy BBQ sauce and garlic mashed potatoes.

The right notes

By Trevor J. Adams

Natalie MacMaster joins Symphony Nova Scotia for a Maritime Fusion concert.

Natalie MacMaster joins Symphony Nova Scotia for a Maritime Fusion concert.

After giving audiences a taste of the new season during Symphony Week last month, Symphony Nova Scotia takes things into top gear with several big concerts throughout the month. Acclaimed Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster joins the orchestra at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on October 3 for the year’s first Maritime Fusion concert. The Grammy-winner always puts on a high-energy show of Maritime roots music—jigs and reels abound. There’s an encore performance on October 4.

Up next is someone special for classical purists: legendary Canadian violinist Martin Beaver (whose resumé includes 11 years as first violinist with the Tokyo String Quartet). Maestro Bernhard Gueller conducts as Beaver joins the Symphony at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on October 16. They’ll perform the Haydn Variations by Brahms, Mendelssohn’s Symphony no. 3 (Scottish) and Max Bruch’s Violin Concert in G minor. They repeat the performance on October 19 at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth, where the Halifax Transit ferry docks.

On October 24, the Symphony returns to the Dalhousie Arts Centre for one of its most popular concerts of the year: the Halifax Pop Explosion collaboration. This year, it shares the stage with Canadian indie darlings Whitehorse. With strong arrangements, brilliant songwriting and intense vocal chemistry, it’s no surprise that the husband-and-wife duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland were nominated for the prestigious Polaris Prize in 2013. Their distinctive alt-country sound is sure to hit a new level when they team up with the Symphony. A repeat performance is scheduled for October 25.

And these concerts are just a taste of what the Halifax Pop Explosion offers. Running from October 21 to 25, the festival celebrates the best in alt and indie music, with accomplished veterans sharing stages with rising stars. Some 200 bands will perform in 20 venues, in front of 30,000+ fans.

Venues include public spaces like Government House and Saint Matthew’s United Church and traditional nightspots like Casino Nova Scotia, The Carleton, The Marquee Ballroom on Gottingen Street, the Seahorse Tavern on Argyle Street, the Company House on Gottingen Street, Olympic Community Centre on Hunter Street and Reflections Cabaret on Sackville Street.

Lights

Lights

Although performance schedules weren’t set at press time, organizers are already tantalizing fans with an all-star list of performers. Highlights include Calgary’s Astral Swans, Wu-Tang legend Ghostface Killah, singer/songwriter Mo Kenney, Toronto rockers Tokyo Police Club, pop multi-instrumentalist Lights, and many more.

For schedules and ticket information, surf to halifaxpopexplosion.com

October Concierge Q&A

P1100460-web

Stephen Morris began his 20-year career in Lake Louise, Alberta as a bellman, moving on to a variety of roles before finding his calling as a concierge. He’s an active member of Les Clefs d’Or, Atlantic Region and considers himself an ambassador for the Prince George Hotel and the city of Halifax.

What’s the best thing about autumn in Halifax?
Aside from having our Halifax Mooseheads back on the ice and in full swing at the Scotiabank Centre, it would be the changing of the seasons. Students are back in university, giving the city a vibrant energy. Cool nights are perfect for a romantic walk along the waterfront.

What’s your favourite downtown brunch spot?
One of my favourite spots is Ryan Duffy’s on Bedford Row—a nice relaxing atmosphere with a great brunch menu and available on the weekend from 7am till 4pm, so you can get your fix all day long. If you are looking for something more casual, step back in time and visit a ‘50s style café, the Ardmore Tearoom on Quinpool Road. With a menu loaded with your favourite brunch items and comfort foods, the Ardmore is a hidden gem.

What’s your pick for one can’t-miss event in Halifax in October?
I would have to say the Halifax Pop Explosion. From October 21 to 25, Halifax comes alive with music of all sorts: folk, hip-hop, indie, punk and everything in between.

What’s the best place to pick up a unique Halifax souvenir?
The Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market has lots of vendors from all over the Maritimes. You are sure to pick up something genuine to Halifax and Nova Scotia. Amos Pewter on Lower Water Street is another great place to find that unique to Nova Scotia keepsake. If it’s something fun for the whole family you are looking for, try Cool as a Moose in the Historic Properties, your inner child will thank you.

September Hot Dining

By Janice Hudson

IMG_1795-web

LOCAL FLAVOUR
Edna is a vibrant eatery on Gottingen Street that offers a unique dining experience. Showcasing fresh local ingredients like oysters, charcuterie from nearby Ratinaud French Cuisine  and free-range chicken, the menu changes with the seasons. Socialize at the restaurant’s communal harvest dining table that seats 18 and is made of salvaged barn board. Open daily for dinner and weekend brunch, plus late-night tapas from Thursday to Saturday.

Steak9412-web

CALLING CARNIVORES
With a private patio for two overlooking the courtyard, Cut Steakhouse on Lower Water Street is ideal for a romantic late-summer meal. One of the city’s finest steak restaurants, Cut matches its premium beef (dry-aged on-site) with an artful wine list, delicious sides, and attentive service. Choose your steak from the rolling display trolley of cuts.

imperial-stout-pic-web

THE PERFECT PINT
Rockbottom Brewpub’s Wreckoning Russian Imperial Stout won top honours in the Imperial Stout category at this year’s Canadian Brewing Awards. The only East Coast beer to earn a prestigious gold medal at the event, Wreckoning is a dark, small-batch, premium brew that Rockbottom brew master Greg Nash ages in casks for four months to achieve a rich, unique taste. The Spring Garden Road brewpub boasts six eclectic handcrafted brews.

Boneheads1-web

GOOD TO THE BONE
Southern flavours rule at Boneheads BBQ on Barrington Street. This BBQ joint has all the classics in fine form: brisket, pulled pork, baby-back ribs, all hand-rubbed with special spices and slow-roasted over a low, hardwood-fired grill. Pick from a variety of generous-portioned sides, including coleslaw, baked beans, mac and cheese or spiced hand-cut fries smothered in smoked sausage gravy. Finish things off with a slice of chocolate peanut-butter pie.

Photo: Dennis Evans

Photo: Dennis Evans

CREATIVE COMFORT
Downtown at Gio on Market Street, Chef Bee Choo Char offers an imaginative array of tastes and textures. Try the poutine, featuring polenta fries with duck confit and blue “cheese whiz.” Or the game hen stuffed with leg confit and kimchi. Featuring three mini desserts, the “nibble or bite” is the perfect coda to your meal. Open for lunch and dinner, Gio also offers an extensive bar with a sommelier-chosen wine list, plus inventive cocktails and martinis.

Photo: Julé Malet-Veale

Photo: Julé Malet-Veale

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Agricola Street Brasserie serves up French-inspired home-style cooking that reflects the changing seasons. Chef Ludovic Eveno combines classic culinary techniques from his native France with fresh ingredients sourced from local suppliers and farms. He makes charcuterie, cured meats, sausages, breads, desserts, jams and preserves from scratch. A popular entrée is the roasted duck breast with wild mushrooms, spätzle, cognac and cassis sauce. Save room for a decadent vanilla crème brûlée with house-made Oreo-style cookies.

Lights, camera, action!

By Trevor J. Adams

Relative Happiness

Relative Happiness

 

Back for its 34th year, the annual Atlantic Film Festival offers a huge selection of works from Atlantic Canadian talents. “Due to the overwhelming response to our Atlantic Canadian film selections in 2013 we’ve added new programs and increased the amount of screenings by 30 per cent this year,” says program director Jason Beaudry. “We couldn’t be more excited about the 2014 Atlantic program. These 87 films are made with our own stories in our own voices, and as a whole they are a celebration of who we are and where we live.”

This year’s Atlantic Gala features the Atlantic Canadian premiere of Heartbeat by Halifax director Andrea Dorfman. Screening at Cineplex at Park Lane on September 12, the film marks the continuing collaboration of Dorfman and poet/songwriter Tanya Davis following their multi-million hit YouTube sensation and recent book How To Be Alone. With Davis playing a meek but determined office worker bound to follow love and music rather than convention, Heartbeat’s gentle love/loss/love plot, punctuated by quizzical bits of animation takes the story to a level of expression rarely seen in East Coast filmmaking.

The lineup also includes the Atlantic Features Program, which spotlights diverse feature-length films from across Atlantic Canada. Festival goers will connect with spirituality through nature in Kent Martin’s affecting documentary Raising Windhorse, soak up thrills and suspense with Jesse Harley’s Lure and two features from Paul Kimball in The Cuckoo in the Clock and Roundabout, revel in the unbridled hyperbole from Tim Tracey’s Canadian Ninja and Nik Sexton’s How to be Deadly, discover new talent with first features from Newfoundland filmmakers Christian Sparkes (Cast No Shadow) and Jordan Canning (We Were Wolves); and delight in the youthful drama of La gang des hors-la-loi (The Outlaw League) from director Jean Beaudry.

This year, the festival features the world premiere of two films from Atlantic Canada: Deanne Foley’s big screen adaptation of Lesley Crewe’s novel, Relative Happiness, and the career-spanning documentary of Newfoundland politician Danny Williams, Danny, co-directed by William D. MacGillivray and Justin Simms.

The busy schedule of events also includes the Atlantic Shorts Gala (eight short films on September 14), a celebration of rising talents called NextGen Shorts and the Atlantic Broadcast Program, which showcases the region’s television production industry. “Once again our industry in Atlantic Canada has delivered a selection of films both feature length and short subject that exemplifies what it means to be part of the Atlantic Canadian experience,” says Wayne Carter, executive director. “We are so pleased that our friends at Bell Aliant Community One are partnering with us to raise the curtain on an incredible selection of Atlantic feature films. This program is always our most popular with festival goers and this year everyone is in for a sublime treat.”

For schedules and ticket information, surf to atlanticfilm.com.

September Hot Shopping

By Suzanne Rent

Drala-web

SERENITY NOW
Drala Books & Gifts on Grafton Street is the destination for anything you need for a contemplative lifestyle. Find high-quality meditation cushions all made in Nova Scotia, beeswax candles, Japanese teas and Asian-inspired décor. Interesting gift ideas include leather-bound journals, paper lanterns, chopsticks and incense.

Foreign Affair

Foreign Affair

FALL FASHION
•Find all of today’s top fashions at Mills, Halifax’s landmark department store on Spring Garden Road. Both classic and trendy collections are in store, including Armani, Hugo Boss, Bailey 44, James Jeans and Judith & Charles. In-store services include bra fittings, personal shopping, alterations and beauty consultations.
•On Barrington Street, visit Foreign Affair for designer fashions for women. Here you will find the latest and must-have brands from Canada, the U.S. and Europe. There’s also a solid selection of premium denim.

Where-Sep-2014-web

AND REEEEELAX
Book a full-day retreat and enjoy several relaxing treatments at Interlude Spa on Upper Water Street in Halifax or on Ochterloney Street in downtown Dartmouth. Book a full-body massage and indulge in a manicure and pedicure. Top it all off with a new haircut and makeup application.

Colwell's

Colwell’s

MAN MADE
•For business and casual wear for men, drop into Colwell’s in the Historic Properties on Lower Water Street. Find the latest styles in shirts, suits, dress and casual pants, sweaters, jackets, cufflinks, ties and belts. Look for collections such as Nautica, Alex Cannon, Rainforest and Jack Victor.
•For weekend fashions, go to American Apparel on Queen Street. Hoodies, t-shirts and undergarments and denim, all ethically made in the U.S. Accessorize your new wardrobe with shoes, sunglasses and ball caps.

Frida-web

WHAT A GEM
If you’re on the hunt for a special piece of jewelry to give as a gift or wear yourself, visit Frida Custom Jewellery Design in Bishop’s Landing on Lower Water Street. A team of master goldsmiths and stone setters will help you create the design you want. Signature collections include those by Friday, The Shield Collection, Caribou and Ocean. Clare Bridge, Marathia and Vianna are among the artisan collections.

Halikids-2-web

EDITOR’S CHOICE
It’s a toy wonderland at Halikids on South Park Street. With the goal of inspiring creativity and imagination, this store is packed with toys for kids from all ages and stages: Lego, Melissa and Doug, Manhattan Toys, Plan Toys, Plasma and more. The boutique also offers high-end clothing lines.

Road warriors

By Trevor J. Adams

IN THE CLOUDS

Photos: NS Tourism Agency

Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Explore Nova Scotia as few do with a helicopter tour from Vision Air Services. Narrated tours will zoom you to the Bay of Fundy, Peggy’s Cove or the Eastern Shore. Custom itineraries available. Or you can waft along at a slower pace with East Coast Balloon Adventures, departing from the heart of the Annapolis Valley (usually near New Minas, a 75-minute drive northwest of Halifax on Highway 101). Flying daily (when conditions permit) at dawn and dusk, the hot-air balloon soars as high as 610 metres above the ground, usually travelling three to 20 kilometres, depending on winds. The ride costs $250 per passenger, with the balloon carrying four passengers plus the pilot. www.eastcoastballoonadventures.com

SEASIDE SIGHTS

08peggy_cove_v2a_cmyk

Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Drive about 45 minutes west of Halifax on Route 333, and you’ll find one of Nova Scotia’s most-photographed sites: the iconic lighthouse, perched on the rocks above the Atlantic in the fishing village of Peggy’s Cove. In fair or foul weather, this is a must-see destination. There’s lots of space to clamber around the shore and take in the ocean’s beauty, but stay well clear of waves and slippery rocks. After you putter around the working fishing village, visiting shops and galleries, enjoy a slice of the signature gingerbread at the Sou’wester restaurant.

GO WEST

LunenburgStreet2_SM

Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Continuing west, the Lighthouse Route wends its way to the picturesque village of Lunenburg, an hour’s drive on Highway 103. This historic community with its lovingly maintained architecture is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Great dining abounds, including the Old Fish Factory Restaurant, Magnolia’s Grill and the Knot Pub. See Nova Scotia’s world-class sailing ambassador, the Bluenose II, being rebuilt in her homeport. On the waterfront, the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic tells how life on the sea shaped generations of Maritimers. museum.gov.ns.ca/fma

SMOKIN’ SUMMER SOUNDS

James Cotton

James Cotton

From August 8 to 10, music fans will be taking an hour’s drive north to the Truro Raceway and Exhibition Grounds in Bible Hill, home of the Dutch Mason Blues Festival. The festival is named for deceased Halifax blues legend Dutch Mason, the man B.B. King called “the Prime Minister of the Blues.” This year’s roster includes James Cotton, Royal Southern Brotherhood, David Wilcox, Wild T and the Spirit, and many more. Saturday’s late-night blues jam with Garrett Mason (Dutch’s über-talented son) will be worth the trip alone. In addition to the hot music, the festival features a barbecue competition, a custom motorcycle show, vendors galore and more. www.dutchmason.com

BACK IN TIME

The-Workshop-at-Memory-Lane
A 50-minute drive east of Halifax on Highway 7, the Memory Lane Heritage Village brings Nova Scotia’s past to life, re-creating a typical 1940s Nova Scotian fishing village. The 17 restored buildings include a mill, barn, mine, general store, church and homestead. History buffs will love the Archives Research Centre (but book an appointment in advance). The village hosts special events throughout the year; take in the sounds of the Atlantic Canada Harmonica Festival on August 23. www.heritagevillage.ca

A RISING TIDE

Photo: NS Tourism Agency

With each cycle of the tides, the mighty waters of the Bay of Fundy surge back into the Shubenacadie River, offering a unique opportunity to go tidal-bore rafting. Few areas in the world are blessed with the high tides necessary to offer this unique adventure. Numerous companies take daily tours from the Shubenacadie and Maitland areas (a 45- to 60-minute drive north of Halifax). On high-powered Zodiac boats, you’ll race out to meet the rushing waves and crest over them, splash around and experience the power of nature firsthand. Pro tip: Plan your visit around the full moon for the highest tides and wildest ride. www.novascotia.com

August Concierge Q&A

Photo: Timothy Richard

Photo: Timothy Richard

Angela O’Brien started her career at Casino Nova Scotia in the table games department, going on to work for Caesar on the luxury liner Crystal Symphony. She soon returned to Casino Nova Scotia, serving in various roles before becoming executive host. Her passions are travel and basketball, which she recently combined with a trip to Texas to watch her beloved San Antonio Spurs win the 2014 NBA Championship.

What is your favourite place to relax on a hot summer afternoon in Halifax?

The Halifax Public Gardens, located in the heart of the city, is a great place to wander and take in the beautiful scenery.

 

What is one can’t-miss event that you’d recommend for a visitor this month?

The Outdoor Film Experience on the waterfront is the place to be! The Atlantic Film Festival produces the series; this year’s theme is Summer of Sandra, featuring movies starring Sandra Bullock.

 

If you only had one day in Halifax, how would you spend it?

I am loving what is going on in the North End right now! I would start my day with a coffee at Lion & Bright, followed by lunch at the Agricola Street Brasserie, and being the sports fan that I am, I would finish the day off with a night out at HFX Sports to catch a game over drinks with friends.

 

What’s your favourite day trip from Halifax?

I love exploring the restaurants, coffee shops and specialty stores in charming Mahone Bay. It’s a true Nova Scotia gem. I always make sure to stop at Maya’s Favorite Fish & Chips in Tantallon along the way—the best fish and chips!

August Hot Dining

By Janice Hudson

Photo: Kelly Neil
Photo: Kelly Neil

Stuck on a good thing

The Stubborn Goat Gastropub on Grafton Street boasts a selection of comfort-food classics like meatloaf, mac and cheese, hand-cut fries with truffle salt, woodstone-oven baked pizza and oven-roasted whole fish and chips. The weekend brunch menu boasts an inventive list of options (try the eggs benedict with avocado and chilies for a spicy kick). For an accompanying beverage, choose from local and international craft beers. Drop in for Cask Friday and try out a new local brew.

IMG_9941

Chill out

Dee Dee’s Ice Cream on Cornwallis Street in the North End has an old-fashioned ice cream parlour charm. Each pint of gourmet ice cream is churned by hand, creating flavours from fresh local fruit and berries, including rhubarb, blueberries, Haskap berries and even locally grown Arctic kiwis. Mexican chocolate (dark European cocoa with hits of cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper) and banana cardamom are hot sellers—and delicious together. The café also serves a selection of delicious burritos.

Photo: Paula Bugden

Photo: Paula Bugden

Editor’s Choice

For 25 years now, Bearly’s House of Blues on Barrington Street has hosted great live blues and jazz. (On Sunday nights, join savvy local music lovers for Bearly’s Blues Jam). With Ace Burger running the kitchen, gourmet burgers and hand-cut fries are the house specialty. Try the Big Bad Wolf burger, featuring crispy pork belly from Oulton’s Farm in Windsor, N.S., back bacon from Brothers Meats in the North End, bacon jam, smoked gouda and a fried egg.

Stories1

The secret garden

You wouldn’t know it walking by, but stylish Stories at The Halliburton hotel on Morris Street boasts a magical outdoor dining experience. Teeming with flowers and ornamental trees in every shape and colour, it’s a haven in the middle of one of Halifax’s oldest city blocks. Tall elm trees provide shade and there’s even a bubbling fountain at the garden’s heart. The courtyard is open Tuesday through Saturday 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., closed on Sundays and Mondays. Whether you’re dining inside or out, Chef Scott Vail’s menu changes with the seasons, featuring flavourful local ingredients and fresh East Coast game and seafood.

Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Salty’s. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Waterfront magic

•For a spectacular waterfront view and seafood galore, Salty’s on the Waterfront on Upper Water Street is hard to beat. The array of seafood dishes includes crab cakes, steaming hot mussels in the shell, fresh lobster and Maritime seafood chowder.

•Perched on the end of Cable Wharf, Murphy’s Restaurant is another must-visit for seafood lovers. The big patio, with ocean on three sides, is an ideal spot to while away a sunny afternoon.

Photo: Andrew Chow

Photo: Andrew Chow

Slice of life

Using only fresh seasonal ingredients and a wood-fired oven, Morris East on Morris Street (with a second location in Bedford on Larry Uteck Boulevard) creates gourmet artisanal pizzas. Restaurateur Jennie Dobbs offers creative lunch and dinner menus featuring wood-fired sandwiches, organic salads, inventive appetizers and decadent desserts. (Try the fire-roasted s’more, featuring a housemade marshmallow toasted with chocolate ganache and graham cracker). Dobbs and her team also craft many cocktail cordials on-site, with ­­­fresh-pressed fruit and berries.