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What Is Halifax, Nova Scotia Known For

Halifax is so much more than Nova Scotia’s capital city. It is a lively maritime city with a rich history and is well-loved by tourists and locals alike. The truly unique offerings of this Canadian city make it stand out as an excellent place to live or visit. 


Halifax is known for its lively and modern harbor, fresh seafood offerings, rich maritime history, iconic historic sites, and appealing entertainment. From its Citadel Hill to Titanic exhibits to its locally-brewed beer and dining options, Halifax has something for everyone. 


In the rest of this article, we will take a look at what exactly this provincial capital can offer you. We will see its entertainment and cultural offerings as well as its historical significance and well-preserved sites to visit. We will also see what unique dining and drinking options make this city’s nightlife so memorable.



The Halifax Harbor

You can’t think of Halifax without thinking of its harbor. This waterfront city is most known for its lively harbor and adjoining boardwalk.


It is a real working harbor that has also been converted into a destination for tourists and locals alike. The harbor is perfect for strolling, grabbing a drink, a delicious meal, or doing some shopping. The area is bursting with unique shops, restaurants, and bars that can only be found in this one-of-a-kind maritime city. 


No trip to Halifax is complete without a stroll around the harbor. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a performance by one of Halifax’s many street musicians or even stumble upon a free stage of one of the city’s many festivals.


If you’re looking for a little adventure, this harbor is also a starting point for those looking to go canoeing on the Halifax waters. Canoes can be easily rented for the day, giving you the chance to see the city from a new perspective. You can enjoy your time in this city by getting out on the water and cruising around its famous waters.



If canoeing isn’t your style, you might opt for a cruise around the harbor instead. Harbor boat cruises are another favorite Halifax activity. These cruises come in a variety of styles and prices. You can choose a fancy dinner cruise on the water or a more budget-friendly option that will still let you take in the city from the harbor.


Like many cities that find themselves situated on the water, Halifax has a public ferry that will take you from the harbor to Dartmouth. The public ferry runs on a regular schedule and is another option for a boat tour for those on a tight budget.


Upon arriving in Dartmouth, you will have the chance to take in the Halifax skyline and snap a few memorable photos. Dartmouth itself may be of interest to you, and you can spend some time exploring this sister city before heading back on a return ferry.



Fresh and Scrumptious Seafood

For the seafood lover, Halifax is simply heaven. Due to its close proximity to the sea, you can easily find some of the freshest and tastiest seafood options here. Mouthwatering lobster dinners are a favorite option, as are freshly caught fish, oysters, mussels, and other tasty treats from the sea. 


Eating fresh and tasty seafood can be a great pleasure but also an expensive one. If you’re looking to have a culinary adventure without breaking the bank, luckily, you have some options. Oysters are a locally sourced and time-honored tradition in Halifax, and so are oyster happy hours. 


Check around at the local bars and restaurants to find the best happy hour deal. Usually, for a set period of time, you will be able to taste these freshly-shucked oysters at a fraction of the cost. Sometimes these happy hours will be for drinks too, meaning that you can have a delightfully delicious and cheap gastronomic adventure while in Halifax.



Although the UK may be the best known for fish and chips, this on-the-go dish is a classic option in Halifax as well. Due to the close historical ties between Canada and the UK, fish and chips made it across the pond and onto menus across Nova Scotia. You can easily find this dish available in Halifax for a taste of the freshly fried cod and french fries classic.


If you’re looking to cook a Halifax-inspired seafood dish for yourself while in town, Halifax has one of the most historic farmers’ markets still in operation. At the Seaport Farmers Market, you can find all kinds of fresh and local ingredients to make your own food. This includes fresh vegetables and fruit as well as seafood options and locally sourced meat. You can even browse craft beer selections here as well as other tasty, local products. 

Hand Drawn Halifax: Portraits of the city’s buildings, landmarks, neighbourhoods and residents by Emma Fitzgerald

Unique, Locally-Brewed Beer

In addition to the delectable seafood options, Halifax is also known for its locally made beverages. Microbreweries are popular here, and a wide range of unique beers are easily available across the city. The city itself is bursting with pubs, breweries, and bars, and Halifax’s drinking culture is a large part of social life in the city. 


If you’re interested in a tour that combines history with brewing, you’re in luck. The oldest brewery in the city, Alexander Keith’s Brewery, is open for unique tours and tasting. As you see where the beer is made and have a taste (or two), you will also learn about the brewery that has been in operation since the early 1800s.


Be on the lookout for happy hour deals at the craft breweries that most interest you. If beer isn’t your favorite, be on the lookout for locally made ciders. These are also a popular seasonal choice in Halifax. With so many different options in this city, it can be hard to choose, but you really can’t go wrong when sampling the locally brewed options in Halifax. 



Historic Ties to the Titanic 

One of the darker things that Halifax is well known for is its ties to the Titanic. In 1912, when the ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean, Halifax was the closest port to the site of the disaster. This close proximity made the city key in the rescue and recovery efforts at the time. Ships were sent out from Halifax to recover whatever possible from the site of the Titanic’s disastrous end. 


Much of what was recovered in 1912 is still in Halifax today. Many of the bodies of those who perished that day in the Atlantic were laid to rest in various cemeteries in the city. You can still visit the Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Mount Olivet Cemetery, or Baron de Hirsch Cemetery today and pay your respects to the graves of those who did not survive the voyage. 


Additionally, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic holds a Titanic exhibit for the other artifacts recovered and brought back to Halifax. When you visit this exhibit, you will find the permanent collection of items that survived the ship’s sinking. These artifacts include personal items such as the journals of crew members and other personal belongings of those aboard the ship.


You can even read journal entries of the crew and gain a more in-depth understanding of the tragic historical event.



The Halifax Citadel

For those interested in military history, Halifax has the perfect offering. One of the most iconic features of this Nova Scotian city is its Citadel.


These historic forts are now commonly referred to as Citadel Hill. These forts helped protect Halifax when it was a young maritime city, letting it grow into the thriving place it is today. The forts on top of the hill, overlooking the harbor and downtown, were perfectly situated to keep an eye on any potential threats to the young city.



Nowadays, Citadel Hill has transitioned from a key military holding to an appealing historical and touristic site. You can enter the site and explore its vastness and history at your own pace. You can also enjoy the hourly changing of the guard, which is a spectacle that draws crowds each day. This ritual is a favorite of tourists and locals alike. 


Inside the Citadel, you will find a museum that guides you through the rich and extensive history of the site. As you stroll along and learn about this historic site, don’t be surprised if you hear a cannon being fired– this is often a noontime ritual at the Citadel.  



Iconic Festivals and Entertainment Options

Halifax isn’t all about history– it’s got plenty of entertainment options as well. When it comes to festivals, Halifax is the place to be. Especially in the summertime, this city is known for its many world-class entertainment festivals.


Many of these are free and open to everyone to come and enjoy. Even for some of the bigger festivals with tickets for sale, the city usually ensures that some parts of the event remain accessible and free for all.


Halifax Jazz Festival 

If you’re a jazz fan, you will want to be in town for the famous Halifax Jazz Festival. This event is one of the oldest and largest jazz music festivals in this part of Canada. It takes place every summer and draws crowds from all over the country and even beyond its borders. 


This festival is one of the biggest events of the summer in Halifax. Even though the name suggests it may only be for jazz fans, this festival has grown to encompass all kinds of musical styles. No matter if you prefer world music or reggae, you will be able to find some performers you’ll love at this famous festival. 


During the days of the festival, the city swells with visitors and transforms into a kind of musical wonderland. The event is a special, once-a-year occurrence for locals and visitors alike. If you’re thinking of visiting the city during this time, make sure to plan ahead. Hotels can be booked up, and restaurants can be especially busy during this exciting summer event. 



Halifax Busker Festival

This summer festival is a special celebration of both Halifax’s street musicians and international performers. These talented musicians from all over the world come together to hold a truly special music festival on the streets of Halifax. These waterfront performances make for memorable musical collaborations that draw crowds and delight spectators. 


In the spirit of busking, there is no charge to attend this festival. Spectators are encouraged to tip performers, just as you would with any other street music performance. This festival has grown to encompass more than just musical acts as well. You can expect to see acrobatics, magic, and all kinds of other alternative entertainment at this festival. 


These are just a few of the top festivals in Halifax, but there are so many more for different occasions. In addition to music and art festivals, holiday celebrations are a big deal in Halifax as well. The city is particularly known for its Canada Day celebrations as well as its yearly Pride fest. 



Nightlife and Entertainment

Even when there is no festival going on, Halifax is still a city known for its entertainment options. Its pubs, bars, and restaurants pride themselves on being home to live musical performances. All kinds of bands with wildly different styles can be found playing in the city regularly. Halifax loves its live music scene and is well known for its homegrown talent. 


A city with plenty of late-night bars and places to eat, nothing is missing when it comes to a night out in Halifax. The city is well equipped for its residents and visitors to enjoy a lively evening in its downtown. Whether you prefer the best food, drinks or music, you can find what you’re looking for here. 



Final Thoughts

Halifax is a fascinating city that has so much to offer residents and visitors alike. This city blends its historic past with its core strengths to be a truly unique destination in modern travel. Its maritime character gives the city its historical importance as well as its reputation as a waterfront destination. From seafood to music festivals, from citadels to breweries, Halifax has something to offer everyone.


If you’re planning a trip to Halifax check out this guide!