By Trevor J. Adams
November and December are lively months in Halifax, with dozens of special events marking the holiday season. Read on for our favourites—with an exciting mix traditional classics and new events, there’s plenty here for the whole family.
The Holiday Parade of Lights on November 15 marks the unofficial start of the holiday season in Halifax, as some 100,000 spectators line downtown streets to see dozens of floats and musical acts. Back downtown on November 22, Grand Parade square in front of Halifax City Hall hosts the city’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting, a family-friendly celebration with live entertainment and a visit from Santa. Also on November 22, Halifax Citadel National Historic Site hosts its annual Victorian Christmas, sharing Christmas traditions dating back to colonial days. The party moves across the harbour the next weekend, as the park at Sullivan’s Pond hosts the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting on November 29, where the highlights include the Santa Claus Express Train and fireworks.
Back for its 37th year, Christmas at the Forum is one of Canada’s largest annual indoor markets of its type, with some 450 vendors offering art, gifts, antiques and food. The Halifax Forum on Windsor Street hosts on November 7 and 8. Another beloved market, the Dalplex Christmas Craft Market returns on November 28 to 30, as Dalplex on South Street showcases dozens of Atlantic Canadian vendors.
Symphony Nova Scotia offers holiday concerts galore, with A Merry Cable Christmas (featuring contemporary holiday classics) on November 27 and 28, The Nutcracker (presented with Mermaid Theatre and Halifax Dance) on December 5 to 14, and Handel’s Messiah on December 19 and 20. A King’s Christmas is back on December 14. Canadian actress and author Shelley Thompson joins the King’s College Chapel Choir at All Saint’s Cathedral on Martello Street for seasonal songs and stories. The holidays get a Celtic twist on December 21, as the Barra MacNeils perform an East Coast Christmas at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.
December sees the return of a pair of popular holiday-themed comedy events. On December 8 and 9, Cape Breton comic Bette MacDonald returns to the Dalhousie Arts Centre with her annual Tis the Season show. The annual Ha Ha Halidays event comes to the World Trade and Convention Centre on December 12 and 13, with Derek Edwards hosting an evening of stand-up comedy.
Neptune Theatre’s long-awaited holiday production begins on November 25. A Christmas Story, based on the much loved-tale of young Ralphie’s efforts to secure a BB gun, continues through January 4. The holiday pantomime at Theatre Arts Guild is another seasonal mainstay. It’s always a lively, rollicking show with lots of audience participation. This year, it runs from November 27 to December 13. And it just wouldn’t be Christmas without Scrooge. Jeremy Webb brings his remarkable one-man performance of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to Neptune Theatre on Argyle Street on December 23, 24 and 26.
AULD LANG SYNE
Finally, head to Grand Parade square in front of Halifax City Hall on December 31 to say farewell to 2014 and welcome 2015. The New Year’s Eve celebration kicks off at 10:30pm, featuring live entertainment and Atlantic Canada’s largest fireworks celebration at midnight.