A lot of things are different with this issue of Halifax Magazine. After five years of publishing it, we’re relaunching the magazine with a sharp new look. Designer Beth Muzzerall has worked hard all summer to develop our new visual style.

From our flag on the front cover to our new back-page column, Beth has crafted a cleaner, more urban aesthetic, reflecting our focus on the city and its stories. Our goal has been to create a sleeker, more readable look for the magazine, with pictures that are stronger, more dominant, and text that flows naturally. (Her new design also lets us get more words onto the page, so you’ll notice our stories feel a bit meatier now.)

Find out more about those stories in Contents, on page 7. Getting excited about a Contents page is kind of a magazine-geek thing to do, but it’s one of my favourite parts of the new design. The page is clean, reader-focused and makes bold use of photography—it embodies everything we’re trying to do with the new look.

Within Cityscape, beginning on page 12, you’ll find our new Neighbourhoods spotlight. In this issue, we explore the Hydrostone. On page 21, you’ll meet Mike Burns, our first Trendsetter. In this section, we talk with the people at the vanguard of our changing city. Our Entertainment section, on page 24, has been refocused. In it, we share our top-five can’t-miss Halifax events. We’ve renamed our Shopping department Style, and given it a new focus to match. On page 44, Suzanne Rent tells the story of another rebirth: the new and improved Atlantic Fashion Week.

Anchoring each issue will be our new back-page column. Jack Florek is an American expatriate who moved his family from New Jersey to Halifax, after a lifetime of yearning to be Canadian. On page 50, he ponders Dartmouth’s reputation as “the Dark Side.”

I’m also excited about the selection of feature stories we have in this issue. With a new season of the TV biker series Sons of Anarchy beginning this month, Sarah Sawler talks to star Kim Coates about his strong ties to Halifax and his early days at Neptune Theatre. On page 30, Janice Landry offers the latest chapter in her series on Halifax’s first-responders. This month, her story “Into darkness” looks at the powerful emotional toll of their heroism.

On page 36, you can see one of my highlights of the summer: talking with Maestro Fresh Wes. We discussed his love for Halifax (where he shoots Mr. D), and his 25 years in music. And on page 40, Jacob Boon wonders why Halifax has no water taxis.

We’re also refreshing our website, giving it a responsive design—so you view it seamlessly on any device—and a new look to complement the magazine’s changes. You will find it easier to comment, link with us via social media and browse through photos and editorial features. We’ve also launched a new iPhone/iPad app. Find that at the App Store now.

And next month, we’re taking some time to celebrate all these changes with an exclusive Relaunch Party. In the coming weeks, we’ll be giving out invitations to a few lucky readers. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for your chance to win.

We thought we’d have a bit of fun to celebrate our relaunch, so we’ve organized the Halifax Magazine scavenger hunt (see page 7 for details). If you look closely in this issue, you’ll find a special “H” logo in some ads. Find as many of these spots as you can, then like our page and post on Facebook or Tweet (with the hashtag #HMCelebrate) a photo of your visit. Each time you submit a photo, you’ll enter a draw for a weekend for two at Delta Halifax: a two-night stay in the Neptune Suite, dinner at Tempo, dinner at the Harbour City Bar & Grill, buffet breakfast at Harbour City on Saturday, Sunday brunch at Tempo, massages on Saturday morning, two tickets to A Christmas Carol at Neptune Theatre on November 30, and limo rides to and from the show.

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