It’s festival season in Halifax—out our favourite local seasonal celebrations
By Trevor J. Adams
Celebrating the city’s music, varied cultural communities, military heritage, and rich architecture, Halifax’s festival calendar offers something for every taste this month. No matter when you’re visiting, in fair weather or foul, you’ll find an exciting event.
For many local schoolkids, Bedford Days is the unofficial kickoff to summer. The schedule includes lots for all ages: fireworks, rides, live entertainment, games and competitions, and a beer garden for the grown folks. DeWolf Park, just off the Bedford Highway, hosts from June 27–July 1.
Continuing through June 9, the Scotia Festival of Music celebrates chamber music with 50+ events, including concerts, recitals, open rehearsals, and master classes. The festival attracts top talents from around the world: this year’s headliners include oboeist Suzanne Lemieux, violinist Scott St. John, pianist John Novacek, violinist Airi Yoshioka, conductor Bernhard Gueller, and many more. The concluding gala, this year on June 9, at the Dalhousie Arts Centre is always a highlight. This year erstwhile Symphony Nova Scotia maestro Bernhard Gueller conducts works by Schubert and Mahler.
Or start the month with the annual Cedar Festival, continuing through June 2. Fun for the whole family, this Lebanese festival offers live music and dancing, mouth-watering Middle Eastern cuisine, cultural demonstrations, plus a cooking competition and fashion show. And just for the kids, there’s a bouncy castle, magic show, carnival games, and face painting. Find the event at 111 Clayton Park Dr.
Halifax Greek Fest, running this year from June 6–9, is one of the city’s most beloved festivals. Thousands flock to St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church on Purcell’s Cove Road for live music, traditional dancing, art and cultural exhibitions, language workshops, religious artifacts, tasty Greek cuisine, and vendors aplenty. While noshing on souvlaki, watch dancers take the stage with their high-energy moves. Kids will love the Olympic area that includes face painting, an inflatable ride, cool treats, and balloons.
Something for Everyone
Taking place June 29–July 6, the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo is the world’s largest annual indoor show of its type. Known for its pomp, precision, and music, the event brings together military and civilian performers from around the world, including pipe and military bands, acrobats, trapeze artists, gymnasts, choirs, drill teams, comedians, and more. See it at Scotiabank Centre on Duke Street.
Running from June 28–July 1, Halifax Ribfest showcases ribs (and lots of other BBQ dishes and sides) from local favourites like Boneheads BBQ and vendors from around North America. Live entertainment and free admission (pay per serving). The annual festival is a fund raiser for the Rotary Club of Halifax. Find it on the Halifax waterfront off Lower Water Street.
Catch of the Day
Memory Lane Heritage Village hosts the annual Eastern Shore Cold Waters Seafood Festival on June 1–2. Sample tasty Atlantic Canadian seafood: fresh clams, lobsters, mussels, and haddock prepared numerous ways, plus traditional dishes like smoked fish and Solomon Gundy. Kids will love the on-site demos and activities, including dory rides, buoy painting, net knitting, and lobster-trap building.