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Casino Nova Scotia

HOT ENTERTAINMENT

Live Art Dance hosts Shay Kuebler Radical System Art. Photo credit: David Cooper

FUSION FORCE
October 5, 6
Vancouver’s Shay Kuebler Radical System Art offers a unique high-energy evening of dance that blends tap, swing, and contemporary styles. Live Art Dance hosts its Telemetry production at the Sir James Dunn Theatre in the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

FASHION STATEMENT
October 18 to 21
With fashion shows, parties, and special events aplenty, Atlantic Fashion Week is the East Coast’s hottest style celebration. This annual event celebrates the region’s design gurus, with lots of opportunities for up-and-comers to strut their stuff.

GET IN THE RING
October 13
Up-and-coming fighters from Canada and the U.S. go head-to-head with national pride on the line as Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street hosts an evening of team boxing action.

CLASSICAL CONNECTIONS
• October 13: The Dartmouth Community Concert Association’s autumn season begins at Woodlawn United Church with a baroque concert by Ensemble Les Songes, featuring soprano Samantha Louis-Jean, recorder player Vincent Lauzer, cellist Camille Paquette-Roy, and harpsichordist Mélisande McNabney.
• October 14: Violinist Jolente De Maeyer and pianist Nikolaas Kende visit the Cecilia Concert Series for European Afternoon, a matinee concert at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts on Chebucto Road. The lineup includes Beethoven’s Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47 and Kreutzer and Schubert’s Sonata in A Major, D. 574, Grand Duo.

ART AFTER DARK
October 13
Discover unique art in a variety of media, with exhibitions and performances at venues around Halifax during Nocturne. Running from 6 p.m. to midnight, this one-night-only festival takes over galleries and public spaces where you wouldn’t normally expect to discover cutting-edge art. Free bike-valet and shuttle-bus service make it easy to get out and explore.

EDITOR’S PICK – OUT OF THIS WORLD
October 26 to 28
Hal-Con is the East Coast’s biggest sci-fi, gaming, and fantasy festival and it returns this month. Scheduled guests include Star Trek: The Next Generation’s LeVar Burton (“Geordi LaForge”) and John de Lancie (“Q”), plus comic artist Brenda Hickey, author Delilah S. Dawson, cosplay guru Cassie Seaboyer, and many more. This event usually sells out, so get your tickets early and catch all the action at the new Halifax Convention Centre on Argyle Street.

October 7
A CIVILIZED CONVERSATION WITH CHELSEA HANDLER
Handler joins Civilized publisher Derek Riedel for a townhall on politics, culture, and cannabis.

October 13
JILL BARBER
The jazz/folk-pop vocalist returns to the Dalhousie Arts Centre with an intimate show for her hometown fans.

October 19, 20
SYMPHONY NOVA SCOTIA
Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser conducts as Port Cities joins the Symphony at the Dalhousie Arts Centre for a special Halifax Pop Explosion concert.

October 22
DEAN BRODY
The Canadian country powerhouse brings his Dirt Road Acoustic Tour to the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

October 26, 27
LAST LAUGH COMEDY CLUB
Angelo Tsarouchas joins Efthimios Nasiopoulos and Comus for It’s All Greek to Me at Atlantica Hotel Halifax.

October 27
HALIFAX MOOSEHEADS
After starting the season with a long road trip, the Mooseheads play their home-opener at Scotiabank Centre versus Cape Breton.

CONCIERGE Q & A

Angela O’Brien, senior executive host at Casino Nova Scotia.

By Trevor J. Adams

Angela O’Brien is the senior executive host at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street. She graduated from Saint Mary’s University and has a true love for Halifax. She is a professional affiliate with Les Clefs d’Or Canada, which has provided her great opportunities for creating partnerships within the hospitality community.

What’s an ideal destination in the Halifax area for a late-night snack?
Antojo Taco + Tequila on Argyle Street has expanded to a late night Munchies Nocturnos menu and serves tacos until 1:30 a.m. Thursday to Saturday. It’s a great addition to the late night food scene in downtown Halifax!

If you only had one day in Halifax this month, how would you spend it?
Have to start with a coffee at Coffee Matters in the Brewery Market on Lower Water Street, explore the Halifax Brewery Farmers Market and take a stroll down the Halifax waterfront. Stop by to see Julie for an afternoon tour of the Halifax Distillery, and learn how JD Shore rum is crafted. No tour is complete without a tasting! For dinner I would go to one of my all-time favorites, da Maurizio. Great Italian food and excellent service in a romantic setting. My favorite dish is the gnocchi; I highly recommend it!

Who’s your favourite newcomer to the city’s dining and nightlife scene?
Bar Kismet recently opened on Agricola Street and is absolutely charming. The casual quaint atmosphere is a great place to share small or large unique plates with a great selection of craft cocktails.

Where should visitors go to find a unique memento of their visit to Halifax?
Amos Pewter in the Historic Properties on the Halifax waterfront has quality hand-crafted Nova Scotia products. A great selection of jewelry, ornaments, and household items to start your Christmas list.

What’s the most common question visitors ask you about Nova Scotia?
What’s the must-see-and-do activity in Nova Scotia? My answer is always to hike the Skyline Trail along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton. It’s an easy seven-kilometre hike with stunning views of the ocean and rolling green landscape. It’s a great place to watch the sun set and you may even see a moose up close and personal.

 

Concierge Q & A

Concierge_Diane-Munroe

Diane Munroe has been in the hospitality industry for 20 years, starting out at the Keltic Lodge in guest services as a housekeeper. Diane is now an active member of Les Clefs d’Or Atlantic and resident-services manager at Bishop’s Landing in Halifax.

Q: What’s the best thing about September in the city?
A: The best thing about Halifax in September for me is enjoying the Halifax waterfront. The weather is amazing and after the busy summer it is nice to get out and experience all of our local shops and restaurants. From Casino Nova Scotia south to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 you’ll find the Historic Properties and many unique businesses. Here you can also hop on the Halifax Transit ferry for a quick sail across the harbour to explore compact and charming downtown Dartmouth.

Q: What’s a fun spot for a family dinner in the city?
A: The Bluenose II Restaurant is a great place for a family dinner. The downtown diner boasts a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and there is something for everyone on this menu: Greek specialties, fresh seafood, burgers, all-day breakfast, and a lot more. There’s a reason locals have loved this spot since it opened in 1964.

Q: Where can readers go to enjoy great live music?
A: The Lower Deck Pub—Beer Market is in the heart of the Historic Properties directly on the Halifax Waterfront and it’s a great place to take in some live Nova Scotian music. With big communal tables, a harbourside patio, boisterous and friendly atmosphere, and great local beers on tap, it offers the quintessential Maritime-pub experience. There’s live East Coast music nightly, plus weekend matinees. 

Q: What can sports fans do in Halifax this month?
A: If you brought along your golf clubs on this trip, head for the Ashburn Golf Club on Joseph Howe Drive in Halifax. Known as Old Ashburn (the club has a newer course outside the city), this historic course was crafted by acclaimed architect Stanley Thompson. A throwback to another era, it measures just 5,210 yards, which belies its difficulty. Compact greens and a naturally rolling landscape make this one a challenge even for long-time players.

Q: Where should readers go to find a unique piece of jewelry?
A: You will always find something unique at Frida Jewellery, located in Bishop’s Landing on Lower Water Street. Here you can get individually designed jewelry that is hand made using metals, gemstones and diamonds.

Hot Entertainment

Entertainment_Live-Art-Dance

BODIES IN MOCEAN
April 26 to 28

Live Art Dance wraps up its 35th season with a world premiere of new work from award-winning choreographer Heidi Strauss (one of Toronto’s most prolific and successful creators), performed by Mocean Dance. The Dalhousie Arts Centre on University avenue hosts.

 

Entertainment_Stars-on-Ice

OLYMPIC HEROES
April 27

This year’s Stars on Ice figure-skating showcase is a who’s-who of Canadian Olympic medallists, including Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Patrick Chan, Eric Radford and Megan Duhamel, and Katelyn Osmond. See them at Scotiabank Centre.

 

Enertainment_Home-Show

TIME TO REFRESH
April 6 to 8

Thinking of sprucing up your space? Thinking of building, redecorating, or renovating your home? Find ideas and inspiration from dozens of vendors at the Spring Ideal Home Show at Halifax Exhibition Centre on Prospect Road.

 

Entertainment_Ballet-Jorgen

5 FOR MUSIC LOVERS
April 8:
 The Cecilia Concert Series presents Jeanne Amièle and Simon Larivière at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts on Chebucto Road. The pianists explore the music of Czarist Russia: Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and more.

April 13: Indie-pop sensations Stars take the stage at the Marquee Ballroom on Gottingen Street.

April 13: Join The Stanfields for a night of rollicking rock with a Celtic tinge at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street.

April 14, 15: Ballet Jörgen joins Symphony Nova Scotia to perform Anastasia at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

April 24: Long a mainstay of the Canadian prog-metal scene, Protest the Hero are sure to blow the roof off the Marquee Ballroom.

 

Entertainment_Mamma-Mia

DANCING QUEENS
April 10 to June 3

Opening this month, Mamma Mia! is Neptune Theatre’s most hotly-anticipated show of the season. The music of ABBA weaves through this story of a young woman searching for her father on the eve of her wedding.

 

Entertainment_Mary-E-Black-Gallery

MADE LOCALLY
Continuing

The Mary E. Black Gallery on Marginal Road specializes in fine craft from around Atlantic Canada. This month, the gallery spotlights textile artist Jane Whitten with the exhibition Wreaking Havoc.

 

Entertainment_Theatre-Arts-Guild

TIMELESS CLASSIC *Editor’s Pick*
April 5 to 21

Theatre Arts Guild performs a new adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank. Bill vanGorder directs the poignant story of a Jewish family’s struggle to survive in Nazi-occupied Europe.

 

Entertainment_Clay-WalkerEntertainment_Tommy-TallaricoEntertainment_Johnny-Reid

APRIL:
4th: Clay Walker
From deep in the heart of Texas to the Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia, Clay Walker is an enduring country favourite.

6th to 8th: Symphony Nova Scotia
Tommy Tallarico and the Soundtrax choir join the Symphony for Video Games Live at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

16th: Johnny Reid
The Canadian country star brings his Revival Live Tour to the Scotiabank Centre on Duke Street.

Entertainment_Jimmy-Carr Entertainment_Harlem-GlobetrottersEntertainment_Jane-Archibald

27th: Jimmy Carr
Montreal’s Just For Laughs comedy festival presents the acclaimed British comic at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

28th: Harlem Globetrotters
The “clown princes of basketball” return to Scotiabank Centre for a display of hoops wizardry.

29th: Cecilia Concert Series
A favourite with opera fans around the world, soprano Jane Archibald joins pianist Liz Upchurch at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts.

 

Concierge Q&A

Concierge_Trevor-MacRae

Trevor MacRae is an executive host at the recently renovated Casino Nova Scotia. He graduated from Dalhousie University and is a professional affiliate with Les Clefs d’Or Canada.

Q: Excluding your property, what’s a great place to see live music in Halifax this month?
A: 
The Marquee Ballroom located at 2037 Gottingen Street in Halifax’s North End is an exceptional venue for live music. The vibe and the sound make it one of the best venues in the city, bringing in musical acts from all genres. This month there are some terrific bands gracing the stage, including Protest the Hero.

Q: If you only had one day in Halifax this month, how would you spend it?
A:
 I would begin by going to the Coastal Cafe for breakfast, located at 2731 Robie Street. It is by far one of the best spots for breakfast in the city. I would then continue on to the Halifax Central Library located at 5440 Spring Garden Road. A beautiful new building that offers something for everyone from a rooftop patio offering stunning views of the harbour, a 300-seat theatre, two cafes, gaming stations, two music studios and much more. Moving on from the Central Library, I would take a tour of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic located at 1675 Lower Water Street. This is Canada’s oldest and largest maritime museum, housing many relics of Canada’s naval past. There are displays about Second World War convoys, the Battle of the Atlantic, and the Halifax Explosion. A day would not be complete without taking a tour of the Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery, located at 1496 Lower Water Street. It is one of the oldest working breweries in North America.

Q: Where should sports fans go to watch the NHL playoffs?
A: HFX Sports Bar & Grill 
located at 1721 Brunswick Street is by far the best place to watch sports in the city. With over 90 TVs, there is plenty of opportunity to watch your favourite NHL team plus they have one TV that is an enormous 235 inches. Along with being able to watch multiple NHL games at one time they have a free app that taps into any TV on site so you can listen to your preferred game.

Q: Where should visitors go to indulge a sweet tooth?
A: 
If you have a sweet tooth then The Old Apothecary Bakery and Cafe at 1549 Barrington Street is the place for you. Everything is made from scratch and locally sourced where possible with delicious selections that include breads, pastries, and cakes.

Q: What should visitors be sure to see and do when visiting Dartmouth?
A: 
If you are planning on visiting Dartmouth I would suggest taking a walk through Shubie Park located at 54 Locks Road. The heavily forested park has many picturesque walking trails from easy to moderate in difficulty. Bordering on Lake Micmac, a portion of the abandoned Shubenacadie Canal passes through the park, from which the park takes its name. I would also recommend visiting the Shearwater Aviation Museum located at 34 Bonaventure Street. The museum acquires artifacts and documents which exemplify the history of Canadian maritime military aviation. One of my favourite exhibits is on HMCS Bonaventure which was Canada’s last aircraft carrier (decommissioned in 1970).

Concierge Q&A

Concierge_Ian-Cheverie

Ian Cheverie has been creating special experiences for guests for over six years at The Great George Hotel in Charlottetown, P.E.I. A new member of Les Clefs d’Or Canada, Ian enjoys exploring Halifax and Nova Scotia.

Q: What’s a great way for families to spend a blustery March day in the Halifax area?
A:
 The Discovery Centre is an interactive science museum and has something enjoyable for everyone in your family. At the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, you’ll learn many interesting stories, such as the close relationship between Halifax and the famous sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and stories of the Halifax Explosion, another fascinating subject for the history buffs out there! Finally, visit the Museum of Natural History and discover their many different galleries, plus the museum is home to numerous live specimens that make Nova Scotia their home, including Gus the tortoise, who is over 70 years old.

Q: What Halifax-area restaurant do you recommend for a casual family meal?
A: 
A fun family experience is to dine at the Bluenose II Restaurant on Hollis Street. In business since 1964, this diner is a local favourite, especially loved for its fresh seafood and all-day breakfast. Save some room for dessert and walk to the waterfront where you will discover the sweet shop, Sugah at Bishop’s Landing. With many unique confections and even ice creams, all handcrafted by using century-old techniques, the mix of classic old flavours with more modern and inventive combinations will leave you salivating for more.

Q: What’s your pick for this month’s can’t-miss entertainment event in the Halifax area?
A: 
I would not want to miss Bruce Guthro’s Songwriters’ Circle, happening at Casino Nova Scotia on March 29. This Cape Breton singer-songwriter has been entertaining audiences for over 20 years, and his stories and passion for East Coast life will leave you wanting to explore so much more.

Q: What are Halifax’s top offerings for art lovers this month?
A: An art lover cannot miss visiting the largest art museum in Nova Scotia, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia on Hollis Street. This gallery lives up to its mission of being a premier art institution in Canada, with over 17,000 works in their permanent collection, as well as many exhibits featuring Canadian and international works throughout the year. Taking place on March 18 is Artful Afternoon, an exhibition featuring a series of fabric collages created by participants of an art-appreciation program for those with dementia and their partner in care. This program offers a hands-on studio workshop and gallery tour. The collage session on exhibit was designed to create a tactile experience through which participants could explore personal memory and community.

Hot Entertainment

FIBA-World-Cup-Qualifier

HOOP DREAMS
November 24

Team Canada takes on the Bahamas in international men’s basketball action, as Scotiabank Centre hosts a FIBA World Cup Qualifier. The teams battle for slots in the 2019 World Cup in Beijing. Canada is ranked 24th in the world; the Bahamas is 82nd.

 

@rileysmithphoto-0081

Photo: Riley Smith

MAD SCIENCE
Continuing

Recently re-opened in its new home on the Halifax waterfront, the Discovery Centre is a hands-on science centre offering a huge array of education-made-fun experiences: the perfect escape on a foul-weather day. Kids can explore science, technology, engineering, arts, and math through changing exhibits, themed galleries, an innovation lab, and the East Coast’s only immersive dome theatre.

 

TheStrumbellas

AULD LANG SYNE
December 31

Ring in 2018 with Atlantic Canada’s biggest New Year’s Eve party. The action begins at 10:30pm in Grand Parade Square in front of Halifax City Hall. Highlights include a performance by indie rockers The Strumbellas and local singer/songwriter Ria Mae.

 

DavidMyles-cropped

3 FOR MUSIC LOVERS
November 17:
 David Myles is folksy and warm, writes good music, has a charming stage presence, and jams with hip-hop stars like Classified—there are a lot of reasons why he’s one of the East Coast’s most-beloved singer/songwriters. See him in the Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street.

November 24: Virtuoso pianist Wayne Weng has drawn acclaim worldwide—this is a rare chance to see him locally, hosted by the Dartmouth Community Concert Association.

November 25: A West End sell-out now on international tour, The Simon & Garfunkel Story pays homage to the legendary duo with a full live band and state-of-the-art video projection.

 

Prime-Suspsects

ARTISTIC EXPLORATIONS
Continuing: 
Prime Suspects at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia on Hollis Street features caricatures of Canadian prime ministers by local artist Bruce MacKinnon.

Continuing through November: Wood, Wind and Water at Art 1274 Hollis showcases works by painter Marilyn Lohnes and wood-turner Ted Monk.

November 2 to 26: Located where the Halifax Transit ferries dock at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth, the Craig Gallery hosts Portraits, a collection of new paintings by George Smith.

 

Cyndi-Cane

LET’S GET IT ON *Editor’s Pick*
November 17, 18

Vocalists Cyndi Cain, Owen Lee, and Dutch Robinson join Symphony Nova Scotia at the Dalhousie Arts Centre for Symphonic Soul: The Music of Motown. The lineup includes funky favourites from Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, and The Supremes; expect hit songs like “Get Ready,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and “Dancing in the Street.”

 

Frank-Mills JaneCoop Jesse-Cook

NOVEMBER
1st: Frank Mills
It’s an intimate evening of soothing instrumental favourites with the perpetually popular pianist at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

12th: Cecilia Concert Series
Jane Coop performs masterpieces by Beethoven and Rachmaninoff.

24th: Jesse Cook
This renowned nuevo flamenco guitarist is always a local favourite. See him at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

 

Coleman-Lemieux-&-Compagnie Halifax-Mooseheads TomCochrane

DECEMBER
7th to 9th: Live Art Dance Productions
With this Mixed Program of James Kudelka Dances performance, Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie explore one of Canada’s top choreographers.

16th: Halifax Mooseheads
In their final home game before the Christmas break, the Herd hosts Nova Scotian rivals Cape Breton at the Scotiabank Centre.

31st: Casino Nova Scotia
Life is a highway and you’re going to ride it all night long, as Tom Cochrane welcomes the new year with two shows.

August Concierge Q&A

Stephen Morris has worked in the hospitality industry for over 20 years, starting out in Lake Louise, Alberta as a bellman. In the past nine years, he’s returned to the role of concierge and has been an active member of Les Clefs d’Or, Atlantic Region. He sees himself as “an ambassador” for the Prince George Hotel and the city of Halifax.

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What’s your favourite way to spend a summer afternoon in Halifax?

My idea of a great summer afternoon in Halifax is head to the waterfront and the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. Grab a wrap to go at Wrap So D and head out to one of the many sit-down spots and enjoy the sun. Then I would move on down the boardwalk and enjoy a sweet waffle cone from Sugah. Your stroll along the waterfront will burn off all those tasty calories, unless you head back for a second scoop.

What’s the best place to find a locally made Halifax souvenir?

My go-to place for my guests is Amos Pewter in the Historic Properties on Lower Water Street. So many handcrafted gifts and souvenirs that truly embody Nova Scotia. You are sure to find something to take home with you.

What’s your pick for this month’s can’t-miss events?

If you like live music and outdoor fun you won’t want to miss the Dutch Mason Blues Festival happening in Alderney Landing in Dartmouth from August 7 to 9. Located right on the waterfront, it’s a short ride from downtown on the Halifax Transit ferry.

If you had one day in Halifax, how would you spend it?

I would wake up and head over to Steve-O-Reno’s on Brunswick Street and grab a coffee and a bite then head up towards the Halifax Public Gardens and enjoy a nice stroll, a breath of fresh air and take in the beautiful scenery. I would then head over to the Halifax Citadel and watch the firing of the Noon Gun… As I make my way to the waterfront I would grab a bite to eat at Durty Nelly’s on Argyle Street and enjoy a cold beer on the patio. After that I would head to Murphy’s The Cable Wharf where I would get on the Harbour Hopper and enjoy a fun, fact-filled tour of the city and harbour. To top the day off I would relax with a glass of wine and some excellent food at The Bicycle Thief, located in Bishop’s Landing on the waterfront.

What’s your favourite spot for a romantic dinner for two in Halifax?

My recommendation would be The Press Gang on Prince Street. It offers an excellent menu and the lighting is dimmed for a truly romantic ambience. If you are dining on a Friday or Saturday, you will be treated to the jazzy Mike Cowie Trio as you enjoy your meal.

Concierge Q&A

Andy-headshot-2-webAndy McIntosh is head concierge at the Prince George Hotel and a member of Les Clefs d’Or Canada. A Halifax native with 25 years of experience in hospitality industry, he’s also the past director, Atlantic Region with Les Clefs d’Or Canada.

What’s your recommendation for a can’t-miss March break event in Halifax?

The Halifax Mooseheads, the city’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team, are home at the Scotiabank Centre on March 18 and 21. There games are always a great time with friends and family. And throughout the month at the Museum of Natural History on Summer Street you can see the interactive exhibit Dinosaurs Unearthed, complete with fossils and animatronics displays.

What’s your favourite spot for a leisurely weekend brunch?

There plenty of great spots for a weekend brunch in Halifax. A couple of my favourites are Le Bistro by Liz on South Park Street and Edna Restaurant on Gottingen Street. And don’t be fooled by unassuming exterior of the Coastal Cafe on Robie Street. It’s a local favourite for inventive brunch offerings. If you like waffles, bananas, peanut butter and bacon, make sure to try The Elvis.

What’s the ideal made-in-Nova Scotia gift to take back home?

Kiln Art Fused Glass is created with a unique process of fusing glass in a kiln, creating unique glassware pieces that are decorative and functional. If you’re day tripping on the South Shore, visit their retail shop in Chester or find their works at Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia on Spring Garden Road. There are pieces on display at Gio restaurant as well, with some pieces used for dinner service.

What restaurant do you suggest for a romantic dinner for two?

Chives Canadian Bistro on Barrington Street offers one of the best dining experiences in downtown Halifax. It has a private room for dinner with that special someone. The building was home to a bank years ago; the restaurateurs converted the old vault into a wine storage room and a private table for two.

What’s an ideal place to see some live entertainment?

For a great night out take in a live show at Casino Nova Scotia’s Schooner Showroom. It hosts great live music: rock, blues, country and Maritime music.

Culinary adventures

By Trevor J. Adams

JCP_F+W_2014-80-web

Restaurants, wineries, breweries and food producers from around the province share their best at the Savour Food & Wine Show on March 5. Photo: Tammy Fancy

The Savour Food & Wine Festival returns, celebrating the best of Nova Scotia’s dining scene.

Each year, the Savour Food & Wine Festival gets a little bigger and better.

Originally conceived as a February event to get diners and restaurants through the mid-winter doldrums, the festival now runs from January 29 to March 5, featuring several signature events and kicking off a yearlong promotion of Nova Scotia’s unique culinary offerings.

“We want to spread the show out further and fill up those slow winter months with events for diners,” says Gordon Stewart, executive director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, which organizes the festival. “We’re doing a few more things each year.”

The festivities begin on January 29 with the Decadence: Chocolate, Wine & Cheese show at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street. At the event, culinary students from Nova Scotia Community College’s Pastry Arts Program create chocolate dishes to pair with artfully chosen wines.

Back at the Casino on February 12, Imbibe: A Cocktail Event offers just what the name promises. Nova Scotia’s top mixologists and bartenders take over the Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia for an evening of creative cocktails made with premium liquor, paired with hors d’oeuvres and live music.

Following that on February 27 is the Rare & Fine Wine Tasting. This tasting, in the Compass Room at Casino Nova Scotia, is de rigueur for serious wine aficionados. “Every wine you’ll taste really is rare and fine,” says Stewart. “They’re all wines that have scored 90-plus points in reviews and they aren’t normally available locally.” A live jazz performance sets the tone for this intimate event.

The festival wraps up on March 5 with its signature Savour Food & Wine Show at the World Trade & Convention Centre on Argyle Street. With some 75 booths, the show spotlights Nova Scotian restaurants, brewers, wine makers and food producers. “It’s show-and-tell time for Nova Scotia’s culinary scene,” says Stewart. “Foodies love the show because they get to learn something new, and the exhibitors love it because it’s a chance to meet their customers and do something new.”

Photo: Tammy Fancy

Photo: Tammy Fancy

Geir Simensen, Head Chef with Saege Bistro and Scanway Catering, is a long-time booster of the event. “I’ve been part of Savour right from the beginning,” he says. “The people that go are the people who go out to dine, they’re our customers, our guests. At a restaurant, it can be hard to work the room. At Savour, you get to talk with everyone face to face. It’s fun for everyone involved.” He also appreciates the chance to connect with his fellow chefs. “It’s good to see other chefs on that level,” he adds. “I enjoy the camaraderie.”

His 2015 Savour menu isn’t set yet, but Simensen is giving it lots of thought. “It depends on the weather, what’s growing, what’s available,” he says. “All of our ingredients are local, so there are a lot more variables. I’m thinking maybe something braised, something with beer. I’ll talk with my farmer and my butcher when the date gets closer.”

Photo: Tammy Fancy

Photo: Tammy Fancy

Running concurrently throughout the festival, the Dine Around program offers a great chance to explore, as restaurants around the province offer special three-course prix fixe menus (for $25, $35 or $45). “Lots of restaurants have signed up for that,” Stewart says. “It’s a great chance for diners to be adventurous, which is what Savour is all about.”

For more details, surf to www.edining.ca.

The right notes

By Trevor J. Adams

Natalie MacMaster joins Symphony Nova Scotia for a Maritime Fusion concert.

Natalie MacMaster joins Symphony Nova Scotia for a Maritime Fusion concert.

After giving audiences a taste of the new season during Symphony Week last month, Symphony Nova Scotia takes things into top gear with several big concerts throughout the month. Acclaimed Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster joins the orchestra at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on October 3 for the year’s first Maritime Fusion concert. The Grammy-winner always puts on a high-energy show of Maritime roots music—jigs and reels abound. There’s an encore performance on October 4.

Up next is someone special for classical purists: legendary Canadian violinist Martin Beaver (whose resumé includes 11 years as first violinist with the Tokyo String Quartet). Maestro Bernhard Gueller conducts as Beaver joins the Symphony at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on October 16. They’ll perform the Haydn Variations by Brahms, Mendelssohn’s Symphony no. 3 (Scottish) and Max Bruch’s Violin Concert in G minor. They repeat the performance on October 19 at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth, where the Halifax Transit ferry docks.

On October 24, the Symphony returns to the Dalhousie Arts Centre for one of its most popular concerts of the year: the Halifax Pop Explosion collaboration. This year, it shares the stage with Canadian indie darlings Whitehorse. With strong arrangements, brilliant songwriting and intense vocal chemistry, it’s no surprise that the husband-and-wife duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland were nominated for the prestigious Polaris Prize in 2013. Their distinctive alt-country sound is sure to hit a new level when they team up with the Symphony. A repeat performance is scheduled for October 25.

And these concerts are just a taste of what the Halifax Pop Explosion offers. Running from October 21 to 25, the festival celebrates the best in alt and indie music, with accomplished veterans sharing stages with rising stars. Some 200 bands will perform in 20 venues, in front of 30,000+ fans.

Venues include public spaces like Government House and Saint Matthew’s United Church and traditional nightspots like Casino Nova Scotia, The Carleton, The Marquee Ballroom on Gottingen Street, the Seahorse Tavern on Argyle Street, the Company House on Gottingen Street, Olympic Community Centre on Hunter Street and Reflections Cabaret on Sackville Street.

Lights

Lights

Although performance schedules weren’t set at press time, organizers are already tantalizing fans with an all-star list of performers. Highlights include Calgary’s Astral Swans, Wu-Tang legend Ghostface Killah, singer/songwriter Mo Kenney, Toronto rockers Tokyo Police Club, pop multi-instrumentalist Lights, and many more.

For schedules and ticket information, surf to halifaxpopexplosion.com

Concierge Q&A

Trevor MacRae joined Casino Nova Scotia in 2004 after completing a commerce degree at Dalhousie University. He started his career at the casino working in the Slots Department where he gained valuable knowledge in customer service and casino management. In 2011, he became an executive host.

TrevorMacRae

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is the guests. Walking the casino floor talking with guests, looking for any opportunity to create a great experience or memory for them.

What’s the best place to find a unique Halifax souvenir?

Definitely NovaScotian Crystal. They have some beautiful pieces of crystal, from scotch and wine glasses to vases and everything in between.

What’s your pick for Halifax’s can’t-miss tourist destination?

If you are a history enthusiast Halifax Citadel is the place to go. Partake in a walking tour of the fort and learn its rich history. Also don’t miss out on the firing of the noon gun!

What’s your favourite spot for a romantic dinner downtown?

A little gem that goes overlooked is Trapeze restaurant located here at Casino Nova Scotia. Trapeze has a beautiful view of the waterfront perfect for a romantic dinner. With a newly updated menu the food is superb and the staff is exceptional.