Ready for some new festive traditions? Get outside to sip, bite, taste and chew on some new delicious holiday events in Halifax. Dig just a little deeper and you’ll find fantastic, out-of-the-ordinary food and drink events happening around the city that offer something a little different than your typical festive gatherings.
Once the temperature drops, Local Tasting Tours’ Open Kitchen Tour is a great way to gather inside and experience the warmth and rush of local kitchens. “This tour makes the perfect date night for couples,” says the company’s operations manager Rachael Sheppard. “It’s a great refuge from the holiday rush. A perfect occasion for friends to gather, or a great way to entertain family from out of town.”
Running every Saturday year-round, this tour starts at 1:30 p.m. in the charming European setting of The Hydrostone Market in Halifax’s North End. Beginning with a visit to the pizza kitchen at Salvatore’s Pizzaiolo Trattoria to learn “insider tricks,” it’s then off to Hamachi House for “a lively and colourful discussion on sushi-making,” says Sheppard. After a stroll through the North End, the tour arrives at EnVie: A Vegan Kitchen to learn about the intricacies of vegan cookery, along with a sampling of vegan cheesecake.
The tour ends at the visually stunning Agricola Street Brasserie, where the guests, seated at the kitchen bar, are in for an unforgettable view of the chefs in action.
“Guests often stay afterward for happy hour, to enjoy one of the Brasserie’s legendary cocktails,” adds Sheppard. She says that with ample tastings at each location, guests often leave the Open Kitchen Tour “way too full for supper…. The restaurants and streetscapes provide the festive feel over the holiday season, giving the December afternoons that extra little bit of magic.”
During the first weekend of December, Dartmouth’s Alderney Landing transforms into a traditional German marketplace. The Christkindlmarket, now in its sixth year,
features 75 vendors.
“[There are] German foods like sausages, pretzels and festive baked goods such as stollen,” says organizer Lisa Josey. “We have spiced mulled wine, hot apple cider and a full beer garden outside.” Starting Friday afternoon and lasting all weekend, access to this event is free, along with quite an array of music, carousel rides, and kids’ crafts.
It’s not just the food that’s German; this year the entertainment includes a lumberjack show and a singing children’s choir Christmas tree. The best evening to experience the Christkindlmarket is Saturday, where a candlelit Christmas carol “singing walk” starts at the Dartmouth Christmas tree lighting at Sullivan’s Pond, and makes its way to Alderney Landing. “It really is quite magical,” says Josey.
Enjoy another indulgent evening between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. “Almost every staff member attends our annual Champagne tasting,” says Jenny Gammon, the marketing and events manager at Bishop’s Cellar. “People come to look forward to it, and we only sell a limited number of tickets.”
This event doubles as a holiday get-together for regular customers and a great way to research your New Year’s Eve beverage of choice—plus it’s an opportunity to try bottles that are generally out of the average price range.
“We feature several different styles of Champagne, from larger houses like Dom Perignon to grower Champagnes like Le Mesnil,” Gammon says. “Grower Champagnes” are crafted by the actual grape growers and their families, creating wines that reflect their vineyards and styles, something that is less common in the Champagne region.
At $75 a pop, the ticket price is “beyond reasonable,” because, as Gammon says, “we drink all the good stuff.” Plus, ticket-holders take home a customized Champagne flute.
This year, Gammon is excited to announce the tasting, which changes locations annually, will be held in a “pop-up” style on December 29, at the Pavilion on South Park Street. The event boasts music, delicious Champagne-oriented food (think high-end cheeses, oysters) and 12 to 15 different Champagnes being poured. Tickets are available from December 1 on the Bishop’s Cellar website; it typically sells out fast. Corks start popping on December 29 from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m.
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