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Hot Shopping Halifax: Metal Works

Pendants and other jewellery are available at Aiktens Pewter.

Handmade pewter collectibles, décor, tableware, jewellery, ornaments and more are the specialty at Aitkens Pewter in the Historic Properties on Upper Water Street.

Close by on Lower Water Street is Amos Pewter, where you can watch pewter being cast and learn about the company’s award-winning designs. Buy a gift or something for yourself on site.

Hot Dining Halifax: Go Greek

Enjoy greek dishes at Ela Greek Taverna

Treat your taste buds to flavourful cuisine at Athens on Quinpool Road. Chicken souvlaki on a bed of fresh veggies, baked lasagna, bruschetta and calamari are just a few on the list. In the mood for breakfast? Drop by for french toast, or bacon and eggs. The restaurant also just celebrated 30 years.

Craving a specialty dish? Visit Ela Greek Taverna. With locations in Bayers Lake and Dartmouth Crossing, the menu includes stuffed tomato and peppers, vegetarian mousaka, braised lamb and more.

Hot Dining Halifax: Small Bites, Big Taste

Pair a wine with a delicious cheese and charcuterie board at Obladee.

If you’re planning a special night out with friends or a date, visit Obladee on Barrington Street. The atmosphere is a mix of classy and casual. With a focus on smaller dishes and tasty wines, the menu boasts a wide selection of reds, whites, sparkling, pink and bottles from the cellar. Sip on some Blomidon from Annapolis Valley, or try a glass of pinot noir from New Zealand. Also pair your drink with appetizers, including a variety of cheese and charcuterie boards.

Chic style and fine dining sum up Onyx on Spring Garden Road. Treat yourself and choose from the new small plates menu, including focaccia balls, spicy lobster risotto, Quebec cheeses and more. The restaurant also has a long list of wines, cocktails and champagne. Celebrities Sir Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger have even dined here.

Hot shopping: Winter Bling at Halifax’s Jewellery Shops

Rolex is one of many brands available at Touch of Gold on Spring Garden Road.

Located at the corner of Spring Garden Road, Charm Diamond Centre is Canada’s largest family-owned jewellery company. Shoppers will find a range of Canadian diamonds, as well as collections and gifts.

At Fireworks Gallery on Barrington Street, Old World designs meet New World technique, resulting in fine jewellery of gold, platinum, diamonds and coloured gemstones.

Unique and custom pieces by Canadian and European designers are the specialty at Frida Custom Jewellery Design in Bishop’s Landing on the Halifax waterfront.

Locally owned and operated, Touch of Gold on Spring Garden Road offers an extensive selection of engagement rings, Italian gold and sterling silver, as well as Swiss watches such as Rolex, Tag Heuer, Montblanc and Swiss Army.

Hot Dates in Halifax: 5 for Music Lovers

Blue Rodeo returns to Halifax on January 18th at the Halifax Metro Centre. Photo: Warner Music

January 18: P.E.I. singer/songwriter Lennie Gallant joins Symphony Nova Scotia at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

January 18: With solid musical chops, distinctive song-writing and deep roots, it’s little wonder that Blue Rodeo remains one of Canada’s hottest musical acts. See them at the Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street.

February 2: One of Canada’s biggest rock bands for two decades, the Tragically Hip never stay away from Halifax for long.

February 24: Tafelmusik’s Jeanne Lamon joins Symphony Nova Scotia for a celebration of Baroque music at Saint Andrew’s United Church on Coburg Road.

February 28: Celtic Woman, an ensemble of female performers, perform Celtic tunes at the Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street.

Editors Choice
February 9: Southern gospel staples since 1939, the Blind Boys of Alabama offer an uplifting celebration of American gospel, roots and blues. Three blind singers, joined by four other musicians, offer timeless hits like “Way Down in the Hole,” “Soldier” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” The concert will be held at Dalhousie’s Rebecca Cohn Auditorium.

Perfect 10: Savour Food and Wine Festival Celebrates a Decade

The Savour Food & Wine Festival marks a decade of delighting palates and bringing foodies, chefs and winemakers closer together. Photo: Mike Tompkins

Even at the most open of restaurants, you’re getting few chances to really talk with the chefs while they work. You may see them for a quick greeting when you order, or perhaps a brief thank-you at the end of the meal. But odds are good you’re talking to them while they’re really in action, as they’re cooking and plating your food. They’re probably not literally pointing you to the best glass of wine to pair with it.

Unless, of course, you’re at the Savour Food & Wine Festival. Running throughout February, the month-long festival brings diners together with chefs, restaurateurs, vintners, brewers and suppliers from across the province. It all begins on February 1 when the Dine Around program, which runs throughout the month, kicks off. Dine Around gives restaurants a chance to showcase a local project on a three-course prix fixe menu (for either $25, $35 or $45). Participating restaurants weren’t finalized at press time, but you can find all the latest updates at edining.ca.

Throughout the month, Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street in Halifax is hosting several Festival events. Next is Decadence on February 7. The tasting pairs artisanal cheeses, succulent chocolates and wines from around the world. Held in the Schooner Showroom, Decadence is an intimate event, explains Gordon Stewart, executive director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, which organizes Savour. “We expanded Decadence to 225 tickets this year, and that’s really as big as we want it to get,” he says. This year, organizers have also invited a few local restaurants to Decadence, to share food pairings that complement the theme ingredients.

Next on the calendar is the Rare & Fine Wine Tasting in the Casino’s Compass Room on February 15. It’s another intimate event, with attendance capped at 125 people. “These are wines that are unavailable in Nova Scotia,” Stewart says, “wines we wouldn’t normally afford.”

The Savour Food & Wine Festival runs through February, celebrating Nova Scotian cuisine. Photo: Mike Tompkins

Following that, it’s back to the Casino’s Schooner Showroom for Imbibe on February 21. Savour’s newest event, Imbibe debuts this year. “Imbibe is our biggest new change this year,” Stewart says. “There are some restaurants
and bars in Nova Scotia that do a lot of fine cocktails, and they don’t get the attention they deserve. The idea is to celebrate the art of mixology, with 15 booths showcasing specialty brands and demonstrating their signature drinks. Finally, February concludes with the Savour Food & Wine Show on February 28. This year, the event moves to the spacious Cunard Centre on Marginal Road. The flagship event brings 65 exhibitors—restaurants, wineries, bakeries, cheese makers, brewers and suppliers of all sorts—together to celebrate the best of Nova Scotia’s culinary scene. Dozens of chefs are on site, preparing artful little dishes, all included in the ticket price. “It’s the 10th anniversary of Savour,” says Stewart. “And we’re quite happy with how it’s gone. It’s all about bringing restaurants and people together, and getting diners excited about what we do here in Nova Scotia.”

Geir Simensen is head chef with Saege Bistro on Spring Garden Road and Scanway Catering in Halifax. He’s been there for each Savour. “It’s important to me to take part and support our local industry,” he says. “It’s one thing to talk to a table when people are in the restaurant, but it’s different to be at an event like Savour and talk to people who are really there to meet you, and want to talk. It puts a face to the restaurant.”

Figuring out his Savour menu is a highlight of the year, for Simensen. He’s already given it a lot of thought for 2013. “We use the year before as a benchmark,” he says. “I like to think each year is a little better… Now I like to get a little more simple, use the natural seasonal flavours. I guess that’s something chefs learn as they get older. I’ve been doing this for 27 years, but I still feel like I’m learning.” This year, he’s thinking he’ll offer a comforting winter menu, with some sort of braised meat and root vegetables. “I really want to show off those local ingredients.”

Hot Halifax Shopping: Made in the Maritimes

NovaScotian Crystal

Ship’s Decanter, a handmade, local item from NovaScotian Crystal.

Looking for the perfect gift? Look local at these shops specializing in Maritime-made treasures.

Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market on Marginal Road: North America’s oldest farmers’ market, it recently moved to a state-of-the-art new building on the Halifax waterfront. Every Saturday, vendors from across the province share their wares.

NovaScotian Crystal on George Street: Craftsman work on site, using ancient techniques to create beautiful and functional crystal pieces.

Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia on Spring Garden Road: Everything sold here is Maritime-made, including some 143 Nova Scotian creations. From clothes to jam, there’s a tremendous variety.

Halifax Hot Dates in December

En Vogue Performs

En Vogue Performs December 28th at Casino Nova Scotia

December 2: Nova Scotian rockers The Trews are back in the Maritimes with their hard-drivin’ sound, for what’s sure to be a raucous show at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

December 14 to 22: Back for its 59th year, the Student, Staff, Faculty and Alumni Exhibition at the Dalhousie Art Gallery features works by members of the Dalhousie University community.

December 14: Comedian Greg Morton headlines the Halifax Comedy Fest’s Christmas-themed show HA! HA! HALIDAY at Casino Nova Scotia

December 14, 29: The city’s hometown hockey heroes, the Halifax Mooseheads, are a major-junior team featuring many up-and-coming stars, competing in the same league where superstar Sidney Crosby got his start. The Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street hosts games throughout the season. On December 14, the Mooseheads take on Acadie-Bathurst in their final game before the holiday break, returning on December 29 to play cross-province rivals Cape Breton.

December 28: Acclaimed R&B act En Vogue  has won more MTV Video Music Awards than any other female group. They perform at Casino Nova Scotia.

Hot Halifax Shopping – Five for Readers

Atlantic News

Atlantic News on Morris

Five shops for those seeking a good read in Halifax.

Woozles, Birmingham Street: Canada’s oldest bookstore for children; classic picture books, educational volumes, movies, music, toys and games aplenty.

Maps & More, Lower Water Street: City maps, travel guides, road atlases, nautical charts, travel accessories and reference books.

Venus Envy, Barrington Street: Education-oriented bookstore and sex shop; feminist, queer and left-leaning books and magazines in many genres.

Atlantic News, Morris Street: Magazines and newspapers from around the globe; same-day editions of 400 newspapers from over 60 countries printed on site.

Veritas Catholic Books, Barrington Street: Books and devotional items from the Catholic tradition; books by recent popes, literary fiction on religious topics, prayer books, religious art and more.

Halifax Hot Dates in November

Gerry Dee

Gerry Dee returns to Halifax November 23rd.

Editor’s Choice:
November 23: Halifax teacher-cum-comedian Gerry Dee, gaining national fame for his CBC series Mr. D, brings his Life After Teaching tour back to his hometown, performing at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue.

November 10: Young Parisian guitarist Thibault Cauvin performs French Stylings in the Saint Cecilia Concert Series. His repertoire ranges from Scarlatti to contemporary composers. 

November 10: One of the National Basketball League of Canada’s founding teams, the Halifax Rainmen return for another season of minor-pro hoops. The season begins with a visit from the Saint John Mill Rats. The Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street hosts.

November 15: Popular Halifax rocker Matt Mays returns to his old stomping grounds, performing with The Meds at the Halifax Forum Multi-Purpose Centre.

November 17 to 18: Acclaimed jazz guitarist Jesse Cook brings the Blue Guitar Sessions to the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue.

November 23 to 24: Television personalities Alan Halsall (Tyrone Dobbs) and Andy Whyment (Kirk Sutherland) from the long-running British TV series Coronation Street appear live at Spatz Theatre.

November 30, December 1: Cape Breton singer/songwriter Jimmy Rankin joins Symphony Nova Scotia at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

A Halifax Holiday

Jeremy Webb's A Christmas Carol

Jeremy Webb returns as Scrooge in a Christmas Carol.

With its rich history and diverse population, Halifax has many beloved traditions and events to mark the Christmas season. The unofficial kickoff to Halifax’s holidays comes on November 17 with the Holiday Parade of Lights. This popular annual parade will draw some 100,000 spectators, so stake out a good vantage point early. The parade begins on Barrington Street, wending its way through the downtown, west on Spring Garden Road. There will be music, entertainment, floats galore and a visit from Santa Claus.

The action returns downtown on November 24, as Grand Parade square in front of City Hall hosts the city’s Christmas Tree Lighting. Once again, there will be family-friendly entertainment and a visit from St. Nick. If you miss that, you get a do-over on December 1. Drop by Sullivan’s Pond for the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting . The agenda includes a concert by Razzmatazz, fireworks and free rides on the Santa Claus Express Train.

As you’d expect, there are holiday concerts aplenty as well. On November 28, Cape Breton songstress Rita MacNeil performs her annual Christmas show at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue. Joined by pianist Frank Mills, she presents traditional holiday tunes.

And it just wouldn’t be Christmas without the return of two wildly popular annual productions by Symphony Nova Scotia. Running from December 7 to 13 is an elaborate production of The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky’s heartwarming story of a
little girl whisked into a fairytale land features performers from Halifax Dance and elaborate puppetry by Mermaid Theatre. Up next at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue is the Symphony’s annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. Guest soloists and the 80-voice Symphony Chorus give full impact to the Baroque masterpiece.

If you’re not in the holiday spirit by December 23, return to the Dalhousie Arts Centre for the annual Barra MacNeils Christmas concert. Another annual holiday favourite, this one pays homage to the province’s Celtic roots, as the Cape Breton group shares old-time music.

November and December are jammed with holiday plays and stage shows, too. The holiday show at Neptune Theatre on Argyle Street this year is Elf: The Musical. Based on the popular Will Ferrell comedy, it’s the fairytale story of Buddy. Raised as one of Santa’s elves, he discovers he’s human and heads to New York to track down his father.

On December 10, celebrations take a hilarious twist with Tis the Season. Cape Breton comedians Bette MacDonald and Maynard Morrison team up for a sidesplitting look at the holidays. If it never quite feels like Christmas until you see Scrooge, so drop by the Cunard Centre on December 13 for Jeremy Webb’s one-man performance of A Christmas Carol. After performing the show for several Christmases, Webb is an expert at bringing Scrooge’s uplifting tale to life.

Finally, say good-bye to 2012 and welcome 2013 on December 31 with the annual New Year’s Eve celebrations in Grand Parade square on Barrington Street. Beginning at 9:30 p.m., local TV personalities host a rollicking all-ages celebration, with live music and a spectacular fireworks display at midnight.

Hot Dining in Halifax: Sushi Specialists


Sushi at Hamachi House

Hamachi House on Morris Street reinvents the art of Japanese dining in the city. Often voted as serving the best sushi, the chefs use only the freshest local ingredients. Try their selection of teriyaki and tempura, too.

For a more casual atmosphere, try Fujiyama on Blowers Street, which specializes in sushi and hibachi. The menu also includes teriyaki and sashimi. Take out and delivery are also available.