Halifax, Nova Scotia
• Home to the Atlantic Film Festival, Buskers, NS Art Gallery
• Halifax Citadel and Privateers Wharf
• Atlantic Jazz Festival
• NS International Tattoo
• Shakespeare by the Sea
• City of Trees
• Second largest natural harbour in the world and was founded as a British naval base in its infancy, now home to Canada's navy
• More bars per capita than any other city in North America
• Universities (six) are a great alternative for lodging
• Youthful city with a large number of university students
• Angus L MacDonald and the A. Murray Mackay Bridges
• Halifax usually gets hit by the tail end of Hurricanes (Hurricane Juan)
The weather in Halifax is unpredictable. One minute it’s raining, the next, snow or sunshine. Winters are rarely too cold although fog can dampen the spirits of some. Snow is hit or miss. The only constant is the fact Halifax gets hit by the tail end of a hurricane at least once a year. Summer isn’t too hot or too cold either with the average temperature ranging about 27 degrees Celsius.
Being a port city, Halifax sees its share of visitors, overnight or otherwise. So it’s no surprise there are numerous of hotels, hostels and bed and breakfast’s to choose from. Whether it’s a conventional room or a suite, Halifax has it, in a number of different styles and price ranges. One popular option are the six universities who rent out their dorm rooms during the summer months at a very reasonable price.
Skyline of modern Halifax
First established a British navel port back in the last sixteenth century, Halifax has evolved into home of the Canadian Military, not to mention, a stopping point for some of the world’s largest cruise ships. But Halifax has also seen its share of tragedies. A munitions ship explosion in 1917 left more than 2,000 dead and another 9,000 wounded. In 1912, Halifax served as a temporary resting place for victims of the Titanic – most of which are buried in three cemeteries across the city.
A vibrant nightlife accents the easygoing lifestyle that Halifax prides itself on. Rumor has it Halifax has more bars per capita than anywhere else in North America. After sunset, a strong mixture of good food, good people and even better entertainment overflows from the downtown core.
There’s more to do in downtown Halifax than wet your whistles too. A rich breed of museums, theatre and National Historic sites add character to an already unique city.
• Citadel Hill National Historic Site, Sackville St. (902) 426-5080. Look for the giant Town Clock. Perched atop the highest point of the city, this star-shaped fortress was built in 1749 as part of Britain’s North American defense. Learn about the city’s strong military background while taking in a panoramic view of the Halifax harbour and the city’s downtown. From Nov 1 - May 6 visitors can tour the grounds for free although there are no entertainers and the historic buildings are closed.
• Pier 21 National Historic Site, 1055 Marginal Road at the south end of Barrington St. (902) 425-7770. Between 1928 and 1971, more than a million immigrants passed through Pier 21. A touching and emotional tribute to those who sought refuge in Canada along with a special display lists all the ships that passed through the pier are among the museum’s features.
• Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, 1675 Lower Water St. (902) 424-7490. Halifax’s role in the search and rescue mission of the Titanic is brilliantly captured in the museum’s exhibit, Titanic, the Unsinkable Ship and Halifax. Other exhibits include survivor testimonies from the Halifax Explosion.
• Museum of Natural History, 1747 Summer St. (902) 424-7353. Keep this in your back pocket for a rainy day. The museum features rocks, fossils, plants and animals from around the province. Admission is also free Wednesdays between 5-9pm.
• Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 1723 Hollis St. (902) 424-7524. See how Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis lived. Her actual house is on display inside the museum and is just one of many breathtaking exhibits. The museum hosts numerous exhibitions throughout the year, featuring Canadian and international artists.
• Province House, 1726 Hollis St. (902) 424-4661. It was at this National Historic Site that Canada’s political identity was formed. From the establishment of responsible government of yesterday to the pressing topics of today, Canada’s oldest provincial Legislative Assembly continues to shape the province’s political landscape. Admission is free.
• Halifax Public Gardens, corner of South Park St. and Spring Garden Rd. Explore 17 acres of formal Victorian public gardens lined with stone walkways, ponds, ducks, and hundreds of different varieties of perennials and annuals. Open May-Oct. Free admission.
• Point Pleasant Park, south end of Tower Rd. It’s a little out of the way but well worth the view. The 186-acre park is popular with the locals for hiking, running, cross-country skiing, and dog walking. It’s the perfect place to experience a Halifax sunset as the southern side of the park is on the water’s edge.
• McNabs Island. Part campground, part national park, McNabs Island is full of everything a nature lover could want. The 400 hectare island is located at the mouth of the Halifax harbour and is accessible by ferry at either Murphy’s on the Waterfront in Halifax or in Eastern Passage.
• St. Mary’s Basilica, 1508 Barrington Street, (902) 423-4116. Should this church be located on level ground, its 128-foot spire would clearly give Canada’s oldest Roman Catholic Church away. Standing on the foot of Spring Garden Road and Barrington Street, the church invites visitors to its daily mass.
• St. Matthew’s United Church, 1479 Barrington Street, (902) 423-9209. Visitors from all over come to see and hear for themselves what St. Matthew’s parishioners have known for a while. The choir and organ ensemble is the city’s most refined. Tours run from July 1-Aug 31, Tues-Sat 10am-5pm.
• St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 1749 Argyle Street, (902) 429-2240. A new twist on an old design has kept St. Paul’s standing for almost 250 years. Following the design of St. Peter’s in London, settlers were able to recreate a piece of their homeland in the new world. Tours are available Mon-Fri. Admission is free.
• The Shambhala Center, 1084 Tower Road, (902) 420-1118. Peace and enlightenment aren’t prerequisites to visit the center, established by Tibetan Buddhist Chogyam Trungpa. But you must have an open mind, especially when it comes to the Shrine room.
• Cathedral Church of All Saints, 5732 College Street, (902) 423-6002. The Archbishop to both Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia sits at this church, which somehow survived the Halifax Explosion of 1917.
• Red Store Visitor Information Centre, 1869 Upper Water Street, (902) 424-4248.
The name says it all. The answers to any questions you have about Halifax lie here. Maps, brochures and answers – they have it.
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