Celebrating Christmas in Nova Scotia

Fun holiday events and attractions for the whole family to enjoy in and around Halifax

Canada’s ocean playground is well-known as a summer vacation hotspot, but we’ll let you in on a little secret: Nova Scotia is also a fabulous place to celebrate Christmas! The province is brimming with Christmas spirit. Whether you’re in a holly jolly mood for festive entertainment, Christmas tree ceremonies, parades, holiday house tours, Christmas light spectacles, or holiday festivals. You don’t even have to venture far out of the capital to enjoy your fill of seasonal fun. Here are just a handful of Christmas events in Nova Scotia that we’ve been experiencing this holiday season. And they’re all either in Halifax or within an easy day trip from the city.

Victorian Christmas in Nova Scotia

Every year, the Halifax Citadel holds its Victorian Christmas, which gives visitors a chance to step back in time to Christmases past. Holiday fun for the whole family is abundant here! We loved seeing the costumed staff and learning about what the holidays were like for a Victorian army garrison. Father Christmas dropped in to meet the young guests. Families enjoyed making Victorian Christmas crafts and dressing up in costumes at the Victorian photo booth. The wood smoke scent drifting from the outdoor exhibit set the tone for the event. As did the merry sounds of the brass band as they played Christmas favourites. When you need a break, don’t forget to grab some hot chocolate, shortbread, and gingerbread to enjoy by the fire.

Homes For The Holidays 2019 – A Holiday Tour of Homes

Ever wonder what that century home down the street looks like inside, or how your neighbours decorate for Christmas? Wonder no longer! Homes for the Holidays took us inside four Halifax houses, all professionally decorated for the holidays by local designers, florists, retailers and volunteers. Perfect for architecture fans, budding interior designers and decorators, and anyone looking for a little Christmas décor inspiration. The tour was an absolute treat for the eyes. And, to top it all off, proceeds went to a great cause: the YWCA of Halifax.

Read more about our 48-hour itinerary in Halifax

Glow Gardens

What would the holidays in Nova Scotia be without bright displays of Christmas lights? And, there is a place where visitors can wander through a winter wonderland full of holiday lights all while staying warm! Halifax Glow Gardens is an indoor winter festival covering almost 90,000 square feet with around a million – yes, a million – lights. Think massive illuminated structures (many of which you can enter), whimsical seasonal displays, and glowing tunnels and pathways to wander. We were treated to live Christmas music and a market of local artisans. Time for a rest? You can always stop as we did for a delicious snack or drink. Opt for the light-up souvenir cup to keep the memory alive.

Feel that Christmas Glow in Nova Scotia

Father Christmas Festival in Nova Scotia

Mahone Bay sure knows how to celebrate the holidays in style. We attended the 15th annual Father Christmas Festival, which has more seasonal events and activities than we could cram into a day. The Winter Gardens Christmas Fantasy display was a spectacle to behold. It took weeks to cut out all the delicate paper snowflakes and trees. There was a quilt display, craft fair,  gingerbread decorating contest, and a reindeer fun run. For you ambitious types who don’t think “fun run” is an oxymoron! The holiday house tour was beautiful, and we passed St. Nicholas at the cenotaph playing Christmas tunes on the trombone. Of course, you get serious holiday bonus points if you can find the 100+ Father Christmas figures on display throughout the town!

 

The Nutcracker

For many households, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without the family holiday classic “The Nutcracker”. And while you can undoubtedly find a recorded version to enjoy, it’s simply not the same as sitting in a theatre watching the whimsical ballet come to life on stage, to Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable score. Luckily, you can take part in this holiday tradition yearly in Halifax! A joint production between Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia and Halifax Dance, The Nutcracker features talented local dancers accompanied by the stellar Symphony Nova Scotia. We loved the enormous Spirit of Winter puppet, and the photo booth, where we had our pictures taken posing with toys that come to life during the show. Seeing this show was the perfect holiday experience for the whole family!

Peter Pan

‘Tis the season for live entertainment at Halifax’s Neptune Theatre, Atlantic Canada’s biggest professional theatre company! Each Christmas, Neptune Theatre mounts an original pantomime for all ages, complete with singing, dancing, audience participation and hilarious hijinx. This year’s production, extended until January 11, 2020, is the family class, Peter Pan. We loved the singing and acting chops of the cast, the huge pirate ship, 18-foot crocodile, and of course, watching Peter Pan fly across the stage! Looking for more on-stage Christmas fun? Neptune also brings a two-person performance of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to life each year.

Musquodoboit Harbour Lobster Trap Tree Lighting

If you’ve never been to a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, then you’re missing out! And how better to celebrate a Nova Scotia Christmas than with a lobster trap tree? We attended the annual lighting of a uniquely beautiful tree made of lobster traps, fishing buoys, evergreen boughs, and rosy lights in Musquodoboit Harbour. Local volunteers came together to assemble the magnificent tree, which looked like it belonged on a postcard. Extras like free hot chocolate and cookies, a Christmas sing-along, and hand warming stations made this event truly feel like a community celebration. And to top it all off, we stayed for the Christmas Parade of Lights. What a perfect – and perfectly Nova Scotian – holiday evening.

Celebrate your next Christmas in Nova Scotia at these holiday festivals and events. There are parades, house tours, light spectacles and tree lighting ceremonies, all in or near Halifax.

Roguetrippers pro travel tip: during the offseason, many of the hotels have amazing rates. 

Author

Stacy has lived in 4 countries on 3 continents and travels whenever humanly possible. Passionate about music theatre, dessert, and adventure in the great wide somewhere, she visits Walt Disney World every year, usually during Halloween! Stacy currently divides her time between writing and teaching English as a second language to children in China, and is pretty sure growing up is over-rated.

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