Halifax comes alive

As we learn to live with the pandemic, the city abounds with sports, concerts, theatre, festivals, film, and lights — just in time for the holidays 

Feeling a bit too virtual these days? A little drained and screen-dried? Lockdowns, masking, and distancing will do that. 

Despite another autumn of high COVID numbers, increased vaccination rates mean Halifax, dare we say it, is awakening. 

Don’t expect everything to return to normal (whatever that means) just yet, but the pandemic’s housebound days seem to be behind us. Check out Unravel’s very own proof of life up close and personal as we count the days to a new, a better, year. 

Editor’s Note: Things change fast during COVID and event plans may evolve. Confirm details before finalizing plans. 

Evergreen Festival
Nov. 26–Dec. 19, Halifax 

The Evergreen Festival invites Halifax to come alive “with music, light, and joy.” Continuing through Dec. 19., Festival 2021 is a four-week-long outdoor winter showcase of Nova Scotian culture, food, spirits, craft, art, and memorable experiences to celebrate and embrace the essence of the holiday season. 

Last year’s inaugural event was virtual. This year’s is a hybrid affair (online and in person). Still, retailers, restaurants, hotels, attractions, public spaces, and more will bring walkable and safe outdoor experiences to life with illuminations, programming, and animations. Bottom line: Evergreen Festival invites locals and visitors alike to bundle up and get outside — gasp! — together. 

Evergreen Stage will host events (lineup TBA) on the Halifax waterfront throughout the festival. Evergreen Market will be an outdoor venue, also on the waterfront, consisting of temporary wooden “chalets” hosting vendors from across Nova Scotia. 

Key locations throughout the city will be illuminated with holiday light installations to create a walkable outdoor trail-like experience. Gambol along it at your pleasure from Spring Garden Road to Peace and Friendship Park, along Argyle Street to Grand Parade, and down the Halifax waterfront, from Historic Properties to the Halifax Seaport.  

Festival of Trees 
Nov. 20–27, downtown Halifax 

The Festival of Trees from the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia marks its 30th anniversary with a live, in-person event. Celebrate the new, old-fashioned way, filled with magical moments, local entertainment, and prizes in downtown Halifax, Nov. 20 to 27. 

Visit the Advocate Forest of Trees, sponsored by Unravel Halifax owner Advocate Printing and Publishing, at the Doyle. 

“The Advocate Forest of Trees is back for another year and we couldn’t be happier,” says Unravel editor-in-chief Crystal Murray. “This year you will find two Advocate trees in the forest. To celebrate the launch of our new city magazine, Unravel Halifax, we decided to have a little fun with the concept of unravelling the tight knit communities that makes Halifax one of the best cities in the country. Look for a tree decked out with lots of colours, woolly textures, and mitts.” 

Also, bid on the stunning designer evergreens and other prizes in the online auction, and cap things off in style with the Parkland 30th Anniversary Reception and Black Tie Gala Saturday Nov. 27 at the Halifax Convention Centre. 

One in four Nova Scotians now lives with a psychological disorder, says Jill Chappell, spokesperson for the Mental Health Foundation. Funds raised go to the work of making a difference in the lives of Nova Scotians living with mental illness and addiction, and their loved ones.

Halifax Christmas Tree Lighting 
Nov. 27, Grand Parade 

This year’s event features a visit from Santa Claus, fireworks, the premiere of the City Hall holiday projection show, the Zamani band, and Stephane Gaudet & Rebecca Guilderson holiday songs hosted by ventriloquist Michael Harrison. The Dartmouth tree lighting is set for Dec. 4.

Neptune Theatre 

Rhys Bevan-John as Scrooge. Photo: Stoo Metz

The Neptune Theatre team is so happy to see actual faces in the crowd; Jeremy Webb is almost (and uncharacteristically) speechless.

“As the artistic director of Neptune Theatre, it’s my job to gauge what the Nova Scotia theatre audience might want to see on stage,” he tells Unravel. “Coming out of an 18-month shutdown has been an incredibly emotional experience. Seeing plays being rehearsed, seeing sets and props being built, seeing artists reunite, and seeing the audience walk through our doors for the first time, ticket in hand. Many people have expressed how good it is to be back as they stand in our lobby for the first time, eyes wide and smiles visible even through a mask!”

Webb wrote and directs the musical comedy Alice in Pantoland (Nov. 23 to Jan. 9). The titular Pantoland is in jeopardy when the evil Queen of Hearts unleashes a plot that threatens the magical land. It’s up to Alice and a star-studded team of magnificent characters to save the day. Packed with punchy pop songs, laughs, and zany antics, this show is a trip down the rabbit hole.

Webb also adapted and directs Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (Nov. 23 to Dec. 26), a heartwarming, spooky tale for the whole family. Rhys Bevan-John returns to the role of Ebenezer Scrooge for the fifth consecutive year. Since its 2003 premiere, over 600,000 people have seen this production of the seasonal classic.

Dalhousie Jazz Ensemble 
Dec. 2, St. Andrews Church 

Dalhousie Jazz Ensemble in partnership with Halifax Regional Arts Senior Jazz Ensemble performs exciting big band arrangements, offering an evening of uplifting music.

Innkeeper’s Christmas 
Dec. 11, Spatz Theatre 

Join Lennie Gallant and band for a celebration of the season with the fourth annual Innkeeper’s Christmas show at the Spatz Theatre on Dec. 11. This year, the highly popular multimedia show will feature songs from his new Christmas record, plus favourites from his 14-album catalogue.

Walk with Gus the Tortoise 
Weekdays, Museum of Natural History 

Take a walk with Gus the Tortoise, who — at 98 years old — is older than most people’s grandparents. Gus has been a resident of the Museum of Natural History for over 70 years and comes out for a public stroll every day at 3 p.m. When you join Gus for a walk, you may get a chance to feed him and get up close to examine his beautiful shell.

Photo: Trevor MacMillan/Halifax Mooseheads

Halifax Mooseheads
Continuing, Scotiabank Centre

After two COVID-truncated seasons, the Halifax Mooseheads play a full slate of hockey throughout November and December; Holiday season promotional games include: ‘90s Night (Nov. 27), Minor Hockey Night (Dec. 11), Teddy Bear Toss (Dec. 17), and the Hurley Cup (Dec. 31).

Walk Through Africville 
Tues. – Sat., Halifax Convention Centre

Walk Through Africville, open from noon to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays at the Halifax Convention Centre, provides an opportunity to learn what it might have been like to walk down a street in Africville. This traveling exhibit created by the Africville Museum highlights the things that were important to the people who lived in the now-razed community, sharing its history and the vital role it played in shaping Halifax and Nova Scotia.

Halifax Thunderbirds
Dec. 4, Scotiabank Centre

The pandemic forced the National Lacrosse League to shut down for a year and a half, and now the Halifax Thunderbirds are finally back, hosting the Saskatchewan Rush in the home opener at Scotiabank Centre on Dec. 4. The 2021–22 season includes nine home games, the last on Apr. 1 against the Rochester Knighthawks.

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