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History in Action

July’s not just the hottest month of the summer—it’s the hottest month of the entertainment season, as two popular international events return to celebrate Halifax’s military and naval history.

Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo

The action begins on July 1 with the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo at the Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street. Running every year since 1979, this event is a rite of summer in Halifax. The world’s largest annual indoor show of its type, the Tattoo features a mix of military and civilian acts. Acrobatics, comedy, drill teams, pipe bands, singers and more join forces for a briskly paced 2.5-hour show. The popular Naval Gun Race is always a highlight.

This year, the event has three themes: the Titanic, the Queen’s Jubilee and the War of 1812. Canadian acts include the Massed Canadian Forces and RCMP Pipes and Drums, Tattoo Choir, Tattoo Highland Dancers, Titans Gymnastics Team, Baroque n’ Fiddle Celtic String Quartet and more.

Although it’s a fine showcase for Canadian talents, the event also attracts top-notch performers from around the world. The roster includes the Club Piruett gymnastics squad from Estonia, the Gymnastics Display Team of the Paris Police, the Swiss Army Drum Display, the Queen’s Colour Squadron of the Royal Air Force from the U.K. and the Band of America’s Few (comprised of former U.S. Marine Corps musicians). The Tattoo continues through July 8.

Later in the month, the Age of Sail returns to Halifax. Tall Ships Challenge 2012 brings dozens of sailing ships to Halifax—the final stop in a race from Savannah, Georgia—from July 19 to 23. Vessels include the barquentine Dewaruci from Indonesia, the American coast-guard barque Eagle (a frequent Halifax visitor), the French schooner Étoile, the barque Picton Castle (flagged to the Cook Islands, but usually found in the Nova Scotian port of Lunenburg), the Canadian schooner Sorca and many others.

Tall Ships

While in port, most of the ships will be open to the public, with lots of chances to explore and meet crew. Dockside, special events surround the visit. Much of the action will centre on the Taste of Nova Scotia Culinary Pavilion, at the Sands at Salter park on Lower Water Street. Visitors can sample local cuisine and see celebrity chefs in action. Anna Olson of Food Network Canada and Chuck Hughes (the youngest Canadian chef to win on Iron Chef America) are scheduled to participate. And on July 21, Georges Island in Halifax Harbour hosts a unique event: a concert with Newfoundland alt-rock darlings Hey Rosetta.

The festivities conclude on July 23 with a Parade of Sail. Tens of thousands of people will line the waterfront to see the ships leave Halifax under full sail, fanning out to visit the Nova Scotian ports of Pictou, Shelburne, Lunenburg, Pugwash and Port Hawkesbury.

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