Halifax, the largest city in maritime Canada, is known abroad for its beautiful North Atlantic coastline, preserved architectural monuments and, occasionally, tropical storms. Of course the idea of anything “tropical” in Halifax is a little ridiculous (it being far closer to the arctic than the torrid zone), and the threat of serious weather has not stopped Nova Scotia’s capital city from growing into maritime Canada’s largest city and, arguably, cultural center.
Arts are strongly represented in Halifax, with highlights including the Neptune Theater (the province’s largest), the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and NovaScotian Crystal on the Halifax waterfront (where the mouth-blown and hand-cut crystal are the only Canadian-made products of their kind). It can be said to any pursuer of the arts that a stroll along the streets near Halifax harbor, or through downtown Halifax, will find many more art galleries and artisan studios/storefronts.
Halifax is also the region’s go-to spot for night life. Good live music can be heard in the city. There are plenty of good restaurants (do not pass up the seafood), and there are enough bars and nightclubs to satisfy partiers and night owls, plus there’s the Halifax Seaport Beerfest in August. Still gaining in popularity, this nascent hoppy celebration sells out. Equally popular festivals held in Halifax include the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, which brings together the world’s best in military and civilian bagpipes and drums, and The Halifax International Busker Festival. What is a Busker Fest? Maybe it’s too crude to call it an all-human circus, but the acts do include contortionists, comedians, magicians and fire acrobats from around the world.
Halifax has, in addition to some well-preserved Victorian architecture, a wealth of preserved, historic war structures and some great wooden buildings -- the latter decorated with ornate storm porches built to fend off the occasional “tropical storms.” The Citadel National Historic Site, with its distinct, elongated star shape, sits just off the harbor in the middle of town. In Point Pleasant Park, just north of downtown, over 24 miles of nature trails weave around amidst ruins of colonial forts, and other historical landmarks can be found on quick trips out of Halifax.
Travelers looking for excursions should check out the coast and land surrounding the city. The beaches are beautiful in the Atlantic way, with rocks and lighthouses and the occasional sandy beach tucked into the crags. Inlets and lakes in the area can be great for fishing and canoeing as well. Because Halifax is the population center of the Canadian North Atlantic, trips into the surrounding areas may see a lot of traffic. “A lot,” however, is relative. A getaway in the Halifax area is not difficult to find.
The weather in Halifax is generally cooler than inland Canada, but the extremes are not as bad. Temperatures drop below freezing in the winter, and snow is to be expected, but temperatures hardly get above 70° F. throughout the summer, making the season very temperate.
Halifax is accessible by car from mainland Canada, and VIA Rail trains run to and from Montreal six days a week. Halifax Stanfield International Airport is not a large airport but direct flights from eastern Canada and the eastern United States can be found year round. Seasonal flights to and from tropical destinations fly seasonally.