As Halifax basks in summer, hard-working magazine editors need a break from trying to solve the city’s problems. So in this issue, allow me to share my completely biased and subjective round up of the things I love about this city.
Shakespeare by the Sea. Live theatre al fresco in Point Pleasant Park—this is one of these things I’d spent years pushing on every friend to visit town, while rarely going myself. Last summer I went to my first show in years. Every minute of Antony and Cleopatra enchanted me. The setting alone is a draw, but it was also a well acted, professionally staged, and thoroughly entertaining show. I’ll be back this year for King Lear (which opens on August 5).
Live music. There aren’t as many bar stages available as there used to be (requiem for the Tickle Trunk and the Planet) but the summer music scene is hotter than ever. In addition to the bar shows, July sees the return of my very favourite summer event: the Halifax Jazz Festival. This year, I’m especially stoked about the fest’s closing show on July 17. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band will play the Main Stage tent (on Lower Water Street) and I’ll be there grooving my brains out.
Craft beer. If you follow me on Twitter, you may already have an inkling how much I love the thriving craft-beer scene in Halifax (and indeed all of Nova Scotia). I’ve been a fan of local brews since I had my first Propeller bitter about 15 years ago and I can’t be happier about how the scene has exploded: two beer gardens, several bars specializing in craft beers, new breweries everywhere. My favourite new brew is the Dirty Blonde from Nine Locks. Have one on a patio this summer, and you’ll see what I mean.
Gottingen Street. You’ll still hear a lot of people tell you that Gottingen Street is “scary” or “sketchy,” which are usually code words for “there sure are a lot of people there who don’t look like me.” That fact is, this is one of Halifax’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. Long-time residents have been working hard for ages to grow and develop the community, and now they’re joined by some cool small businesses like The Local, Ratinaud, and Scotia Pharmacy.
Halifax Central Library. Our new library is an unequivocal success. The architecture is impressive, the views are fantastic. But beyond that, it does all the stuff a library is supposed to do so well. It has a fantastic collection and has become a hub for community events. Halifax really did a great job with this.
Old Burying Ground. Halifax’s first cemetery is a green oasis in the heart of the downtown on Barrington Street. It’s a shady escape on a summer’s afternoon; I love wandering amongst the centuries-old tombstones, imagining the stories behind the names.
The Army Museum. Tucked in a historic building at Halifax Citadel, this is one of those treasures that visitors probably know better than locals. With tact and balance, this museum tells Halifax’s military history. It’s home to many unique artifacts, including Canada’s first Victoria Cross and the Iron Cross worn by notorious Nazi Rudolph Hess. This is a great place to delve into your family history. Last fall, I visited before a tour of First World War battlefields in Europe. Curator Ken Hynes kindly helped me find information on a great-great uncle who died in the war, including the location of his grave in France.
History. We live in a city where a lot of amazing things happen. It’s impossible to spend any time delving into this city’s history and not learn something new and amazing. Ever heard of the Battle off Halifax? How about the Africville Seasides? Did you know famed carnival promoter Bill Lynch grew up on McNabs Island? I could go on for days.