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scotia festival of music

Joyful June

JoyfulJune_Tattoo

It’s festival season in Halifax—here are our favourite summer 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.

 

JoyfulJune_Cedar-Festival
Photo: MIT Photography 

FAMILY FUN

The annual Cedar Festival continues through June 3. 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. Our Lady of Lebanon Church on Joseph Howe Drive hosts.

 

JoyfulJune_Scotia-Festival-of-Music
Photo: Tony Hauser

MASTERS OF MUSIC

Continuing through June 10, 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 headliner is acclaimed composer and pianist Philip Glass. He performs concerts on June 3 and 5, and takes centre stage for an intimate chat about his craft on June 4 and 6. The concluding gala, this year on June 10, at the Dalhousie Arts Centre is always a highlight. This year Johannes Debus conducts works by Glass, Bach, and Bartok.

 

STEP INSIDE

On June 2 and 3, Doors Open Halifax lets you explore some of the city’s unique architecture. Visitors can explore buildings that are normally closed to the public, and behind-the-scenes spaces in local landmarks. Organizers were still finalizing the venue list at press time. Highlights include Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery, Government House, Halifax City Hall, Cathedral Church of All Saintsand the Old Burying Ground.

 

JoyfulJune_Greek-Fest

OPA!

Halifax Greek Fest, running this year from June 7 to 10, is one of the city’s most beloved festivals of the season. 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.

 

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!

Running from June 14 to 16, the OutEast Queer Film Festival celebrates queer independent cinema from local, national, and international filmmakers. It showcases a range of films, including documentary, fiction, and animation, that will challenge, educate, and entertain audiences.

 

JoyfulJune_Bedford-Days

SUMMER TRADITION

For many local families, 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 28 to July 2.

 

JoyfulJune_Tattoo2

POMP AND PAGEANTRY

Taking place June 26 to July 2, 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.

 

Hot Entertainment

Entertainment_Antique-Car-Show

ROAD TRIP
June 17 (rain date June 24)

The annual Antique Car Show makes Memory Lane Heritage Village a popular Father’s Day destination. A 45-minute drive east of the city in Lake Charlotte, you’ll find dozens of restored antique vehicles, live entertainment, and Kub Kar races for the kids.

 

Entertainment_Scotia-Festival-of-Music

THE BIG CRESCENDO
June 10

The Scotia Festival of Music, a two-week celebration of chamber music featuring talents from around the world, wraps up today with a matinee gala at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue. Johannes Debus conducts by Bach’s Concerto in D Minor, Bartok’s Divertimento for Strings, and Violin Concerto No. 2 by Philip Glass, the latter featuring a performance by violin virtuoso Tim Fain.

 

Shopping_Scotia-Speedworld
Photo: Pat Healy

HIT THE GAS

June 1, 9, 10, 14 to 18, 23, 24, 28, 29: Atlantic Motorsport Park in Mill Village features regional motorcycle and auto-racing events plus national competitions on a 2.5-kilometre, 11-turn road circuit.

• June 1, 8, 15, 22, 23, 29: A 30-minute drive north of the city in Enfield, Scotia Speedworld boasts a fast, wide D-shaped track, making it one of Atlantic Canada’s top auto-racing venues.

 

Entertainment_14-Bells-Gallery

ARTISTIC EXPRESSION

 Opening June 2, 14 Bells Gallery in the Hydrostone Market features an exhibition of new paintings by Nova Scotia artist Peter John Reid.

 Pieces of Sable Island opens on June 15 at Argyle Fine Art in the Historic Properties. Briana Corr-Scott shares art she created after a recent visit to the wild and romantic North Atlantic island.

 On June 25, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia on Hollis Street opens the new exhibition Nova Scotia Spotlight: Laurie Swim. One of Canada’s most acclaimed textile artists, Swim creates intricate quilt works inspired by life on the East Coast.

 

Entertainment_The-Glorious-Sons

COLD BEER, COOL TUNES
June 17

Nova Scotia craft-beer granddaddy Garrison marks its birthday with Garrison’s Backlot Bash at the Cunard Centre on Marginal Road. Entertainment includes The Glorious Sons, The Motorleague, and Hello Delaware. Enjoy beer from Garrison plus special releases, seasonal brews, and ciders.

 

Entertainment_Dolly-Parton

WHAT A WAY TO MAKE A LIVING
June 7 to 23

9 to 5 (co-written by Dolly Parton, who also starred in the 1980 film) takes over the stage at Dartmouth Players Theatre on Crichton Avenue. The musical comedy tells the story of three women out to get even with their sexist, lying, bigoted boss, and end up taking over the company.

 

Entertainment_Vision-Air-Services
Photo: Tim L’Esperance

ABOVE IT ALL *Editor’s Pick*

See the iconic Peggy’s Cove lighthouse from a new perspective, explore uninhabited coastal islands, soar above historic Halifax Citadel and the downtown, see the lush farms and vineyards of the Annapolis Valley: Vision Air Services offers unique helicopter tours throughout the region, with custom itineraries and golf excursions available.

 

Entertainment_Tim-NuttEntertainment_Reeny-SmithEntertainment_Dylan-Moran

JUNE:
1st, 2nd: Last Laugh Comedy Club
A new pop-up comedy club opens at the Atlantica Hotel Halifax on Robie Street, with performances from Tim Nutt, Matt Falk, and Drew Behm.

2nd: East Coast Music Showcase
Several local talents take the stage for a community-radio fund raiser, including Makayla Lynn, John Gracie, Hal Bruce, Reeny Smith, and J.J. Roots.

5th: Dylan Moran
The Irish comic brings his Grumbling Mustard tour to the Dalhousie Arts Centre for an evening of wry observational comedy.

Entertainment_John-Denver-ExperienceEntertainment_Neptune-TheatreEntertainment_Matt-Minglewood

7th: The John Denver Experience
Chris Collins & Boulder Canyon perform the singer/songwriter’s greatest hits like “Rocky Mountain High” and “Take Me Home Country Roads.”

17th: Neptune Theatre
Mamma Mia! continues through the month at Neptune Theatre. The smash-hit features the music of ABBA and stars Jahlen Barnes, Danielle Benton, and Karen Burthwright.

22nd, 23rd: Casino Nova Scotia
Locally loved blues-rocker Matt Minglewood and his band take the stage for an intimate show in the Schooner Showroom at the Upper Water Street casino.

 

Hot Entertainment

Entertainment_Cadence

IN PERFECT HARMONY
May 4

Combining raw talent, hard work, and infectious charm, the cappella quartet Cadence is one of Canada’s top vocal ensembles, performing a lively mix of bebop classics, jazz standards, and contemporary favourites. The Dartmouth Community Concert Association hosts them at Woodlawn United Church.

 

Entertainment_Dirty-Dancing

CENTRE STAGE

Continuing at Neptune TheatreMamma Mia! is Halifax’s most-talked-about theatrical production of the season, featuring lively choreography and the music of ABBA.

Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage comes to Scotiabank Centre on May 22, bringing the beloved 1980s story (with the musical hits you’d expect) to life on the big stage.

 

Entertainment_Blue-Nose-Marathon

BORN TO RUN
May 18 to 20

The Blue Nose Marathon is a Boston qualifier, following a 42-kilometre route beginning at Citadel Hill and winding through the South End, Point Pleasant Park, downtown, across the Macdonald Bridge to Dartmouth, and back to the Citadel. Events include a 5K and youth run on May 19, followed by the full marathon, half marathon, and 10K race on May 20. 

 

Entertainment_Atlantic-Motorsport-Park

TOP GEAR

May 11 to 13, 16, 18 to 21, 26, 27, 30: Atlantic Motorsport Park hosts regional motorcycle and auto-racing events plus national competitions on a 2.5-kilometre, 11-turn road circuit.

May 12, 20, 25, 26: Scotia Speedworld reopens for the season, hosting auto-racing events in several classes.

 

Entertainment_Philip-Glass

MUSIC MASTERS *Editor’s Pick*
May 27 to June 10

The Scotia Festival of Music is a must for classical purists, showcasing chamber-music artists from around the world with 50 events, including concerts, recitals, open rehearsals, master classes, and more. Guests include Philip Glass (composer), Elissa Li (violin), and Sharon Wei (viola).

 

Entertainment_Touch-a-Truck

FAMILY FUN
May 12

Touch-a-Truck is intended for all ages, but machine-loving kids will especially enjoy it. Halifax Exhibition Centre on Prospect Road hosts several fire engines, cars, bikes, diggers, boats, and more, all in one space; hop up to driver’s seat for a photo. There are sessions for people with sensitivities to loud noise from 11:30am to 12:30pm and 2:30 to 3:30pm. 

 

Entertainment_Bull-Riding

RIDE ‘EM
May 26

While bull riding is huge in Western Canada, it’s a rarely-seen sport on the East Coast. This month, the Professional Bull Riders Monster Energy Tour comes to the city, bringing top competitors from across the country and around the world to Scotiabank Centre on Duke Street.

 

Entertainment_Kevin-Hart Entertainment_Bernhard-Gueller Entertainment_Mary-E-Black-Gallery

MAY:
4th: Kevin Hart
Hart’s Irresponsible Tour just keeps growing, with dozens of new dates added recently, including an unexpected stop at Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre.

8th to 12th: Symphony Nova Scotia
The season concludes at the Dalhousie Arts Centre with “Gueller’s Grand Finale,” two concerts honouring outgoing Maestro Bernhard Gueller.

13th: Mary E. Black Gallery
Continuing until today, the exhibition Wreaking Havoc features works by textile artist Jane Whitten. See it at the Marginal Road gallery.

Entertainment_Cheng2-Duo Entertainment_Jason-Cyrus Entertainment_William-Roache

13th: Cecilia Concert Series
The season concludes with a concert by the Cheng² Duo, a sibling team featuring pianist Silvie Cheng and cellist Bryan Cheng.

18th: Jason Cyrus
The renowned hypnotist performs an intimate show, with lots of audience participation, in the Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia.

28th: The Ken Barlow Effect
William Roache has played Ken Barlow on Coronation Street since the show’s inception 57 years ago. He shares behind-the-scenes secrets at this Spatz Theatre Q&A session. 

Festival Season

June marks the start of the summer festival season in Halifax, with vibrant events for any taste continuing through the month.

Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo runs June 30 to July 7: This is the world’s largest annual indoor show of its type, featuring military and civilian performers from around the world—gymnasts, marching bands, acrobats, comedians and more. Photo: Nova Scotia Tourism Agency

Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo runs June 30 to July 7: This is the world’s largest annual indoor show of its type, featuring military and civilian performers from around the world—gymnasts, marching bands, acrobats, comedians and more. Photo: Nova Scotia Tourism Agency

One of the biggest, the Scotia Festival of Music, actually began in May. This annual festival celebrates the best in chamber, baroque and classical music, with dozens of guest performers visiting for concerts, open rehearsals and masterclasses at venues around the city. This year’s lineup includes conductor Kenneth Woods, pianist Lynn Stodola, violinist Robert Uchida, cellist Denise Djokic, trumpeter Richard Simoneau, Composer-in-Residence Tim Brady and many more. It continues until June 9.

Returning on June 13, the Halifax Greek Fest is one of the city’s most beloved summer festivals. Thousands will gather at Saint George’s Greek Orthodox Church on Purcell’s Cove Road for three days of live music, games, cultural displays, wine tastings, food samples and more. The Fest continues unil June 16.

Another popular event returns on June 21, as the Halifax Seaport Harbourwalk (near the corner of Marginal and Terminal roads) hosts the Nova Scotia Multicultural Festival. Dozens of cultural groups, representing a broad cross-section of the province’s communities, take part in the festival. Rollicking music, tasty cuisine and a friendly atmosphere are this festival’s hallmarks.

Although we’re all one big happy municipality now, the erstwhile town of Bedford maintains its civic pride. Join in the community’s annual celebrations as DeWolf Park hosts Bedford Days from June 27 to July 1. Community celebrations include live entertainment, sports competitions and fireworks.

Concurrently, Halifax marks the nation’s birthday with Canada Day Weekend celebrations around the city. Throughout the weekend, you can check out parades, entertainment and citizenship ceremonies. Venues include Halifax Citadel and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

The month also sees the return of one of the city’s most iconic summer events. The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo is the world’s largest annual indoor show of its type. Hundreds of performers and both military and civilian acts will perform. The spectacular show at the Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street includes bands, acrobats, comedians, military drill teams and more.

Hot Dates in Halifax: May

Beauty and the Beast plays a five-show engagement May 24-26. Photo: Joan Marcus

Beauty and the Beast plays a five-show engagement May 24-26. Photo: Joan Marcus

May 9:  Acclaimed roots singer/songwriter David Myles, fresh off a collaboration with rapper Classified, plays the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

May 10: Steve Patterson, host of The Debaters on CBC Radio brings his This is Not Debatable tour to Halifax. 

May 12: The Saint Cecilia Concert Series wraps up another season of celebrating classical music with a matinee concert at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts on Chebucto Road. Musician-in-Residence and cellist extraordinaire Shimon Walt performs, joined by his colleagues in the Rhapsody Quintet. Their varied repetoire includes a show-stopping rendition of the rock standard “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

May 15: One of the godfathers of outlaw country, Merle Haggard is enjoying a renaissance of late, releasing a string of critically acclaimed songs. He performs at the Halifax Metro Centre.

May 17 to 19: Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Blue Nose Marathon has plenty for both experienced runners and newcomers to the sport, including a youth run, a 5K and a 10K. The full marathon begins at the Old Town Clock on Sackville Street on May 19. It runs past Halifax Citadel, through the North End, back through the downtown along Barrington and Hollis streets, around Point Pleasant Park and back up to the Clock.

May 24 to 26: The classic Disney fairy tale Beauty and the Beast comes to life, as the touring version of the Broadway production plays a five-show engagement at the Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street. Young fans will love the opulent costumes, detailed sets and familiar music.

 

Editor’s Choice

May 27 to June 9: The Scotia Festival of Music, Atlantic Canada’s largest annual celebration of chamber music, returns with a roster that reads like a who’s-who of chamber-music scene, including conductor Kenneth Woods, pianist Lynn Stodola, violinist Robert Uchida, cellist Denise Djokic, trumpeter Richard Simoneau, Composer-in-Residence Tim Brady and many more.