Live theatre, exciting exhibitions, fun outdoor activities—discover this season’s top destinations to explore in Halifax
By Janice Hudson
For 32 years, the Discovery Centre has been giving kids and adults alike exciting, hands-on opportunities to learn about science, math, engineering, and technology. And now, it’s moved to a new 40,000-square-foot home on the Halifax waterfront. The new site has four themed galleries, an innovation lab, and Atlantic Canada’s only immersive dome theatre.
Not just a planetarium for exploring outer space, this theatre also lets visitors immerse themselves inside the human body or run like an animal through the jungle. The centre also hosts changing exhibits: The Science of Rock N’ Roll runs until May 14 and opening on May 29 is Tyrannosaurus: Meet the Family. On Wednesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., admission is free.
Spring weekends in Halifax are the perfect time to discover Nova Scotia’s fresh produce, tasty baked goods, local artwork, and cool souvenirs. More than 250 vendors from across the province showcase their goods over two levels at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market on Marginal Road.
A few minutes’ walk up Lower Water Street takes you to the Historic Farmers’ Market in the Alexander Keith’s Brewery building. Find vendors and live entertainment in the main courtyard or tucked away in the maze of wings and hallways in this historic facility. You’ll find it less crowded than the Seaport, but equally fun to explore.
Heading north on Windsor Street is the Halifax Forum, home to one of the city’s newest farmers’ markets. More than 50 vendors take over the facility’s bingo hall each Saturday morning for the Halifax Forum Farmers’ Market. Find local farmers selling produce right off their trucks in the parking lot.
Across the harbour in Dartmouth, just steps from the Halifax Transit ferry terminal, you’ll find the Alderney Landing Farmers’ Market. It has live entertainment on its main stage on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Outside, find flower and plant vendors aplenty during the spring months.
ALL THE CITY’S A STAGE
Eastern Front Theatre’s 2017 Stages Theatre Festival presents 15 shows and events from May 15 to 27. The schedule includes new plays, workshops, theatre for families, and world premieres held at venues across the city. The festival highlights work from Nova Scotia’s top professional theatre companies at different stages of development, from workshops and play readings to full productions. Highlights include The West Woods by Mulgrave Road Theatre on May 16 to 19, and Treegirl by Forerunner Theatre on May 19 to 21.
Spanning six hectares in the middle of the city, the Halifax Public Gardens is one of North America’s finest formal Victorian gardens, with dramatic flower displays, weeping and flowering trees, fountains, and foliage plants. This year, it’s celebrating its 150th anniversary with events and activities happening daily during the season. This month, watch for the Victorian Tea Party at the Lord Nelson Hotel on May 22 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. It’s an afternoon of English tea, with music by Symphony Nova Scotia and Hausmusik. On May 27, there’s a poetry reading in the gardens from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Each Sunday afternoon starting June 11, drop by the Victorian bandstand for free concerts featuring local musicians.
HISTORY BROUGHT TO LIFE
To celebrate Canada’s 150th year since confederation, the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 presents Canada: Day 1, a travelling exhibition that showcases 150 years of immigrants’ “day one” experiences. View distinctive artworks and compelling objects, such as a Syrian welcome kit, a head-tax certificate, moving War Bride correspondence, and more.
One of Canada’s most visited National Historic Sites, the Halifax Citadel was the fourth in a series of forts since 1749 to occupy the hill overlooking the harbour. Check out the Army Museum on-site for more military artefacts and history. In 2017, all National Historic Sites are offering free admission with a Parks Canada Discovery Pass, available online at pc.gc.ca.
CRAFTED FOR CANADA
Just in time for Canada 150, Novascotian Crystal has expanded its Canadian spirit line of handcrafted crystal, featuring a maple leaf design. It’s now available in whiskey tumblers, water glasses, brandy snifters, shot glasses, and more. Stop by the workshop at the foot of George Street on the Halifax waterfront and watch the craftspeople create these mouth-blown masterpieces using age-old techniques.
TAKE IT OUTSIDE
With warmer temperatures now the norm, there’s plenty of outdoor activities on offer across the city. On the tip of Halifax’s South End, Point Pleasant Park boasts 39 kilometres of roads and trails that wind through forest and past rocky hills, ravines, and military ruins, including the Prince of Wales Tower National Historic Site. The park also hosts alfresco theatre group, Shakespeare by the Sea, during the summer.
Heading west past the Armdale Rotary on Purcell’s Cove Road is Sir Sanford Fleming Park. This 38-hectare space has walking trails through forest, saltwater marsh, and a large pond (Frog Pond). Climb up Dingle Memorial Tower, the 10-storey Italianate landmark built in the early 1900s. Kids will love the new playground on-site, Halifax’s first all-natural play space made of hand-carved tree trunks. They can climb up the mesh and log tower that mirrors Dingle Tower.
Across the harbour in Dartmouth, Shubie Park is a 16-hectare greenway bounded by Lake Charles to the north and Lake Micmac to the south. Trails meander from deep forest to sunny lakeside along the historic route of the Shubenacadie Canal, offering beautiful scenery and quiet areas to enjoy a picnic lunch.
No trip to Halifax is complete without visiting Peggy’s Cove, the fishing village just a 45-minute drive west from Halifax. Its iconic lighthouse is the most photographed site in Nova Scotia. Fifty minutes east of Halifax is Memory Lane Heritage Village in Lake Charlotte, a living history museum that recreates life in a 1940s Nova Scotian coastal village. Tour the 18 restored buildings and tuck into a lunch of baked beans and brown bread at the on-site cookhouse.