Why we celebrate

When I moved to Halifax as a young man, this talk of a summer festival season was alien to me. I came from Digby, where festival season consisted of “Scallop Days,” a long weekend in August where the community gathered to share its love of beer gardens, tilt-a-whirls and, to a lesser extent, scallops. (Digby has since gotten into festivals in a much bigger way, with the annual Wharf Rat Rally drawing thousands of motor bikers from across the continent).
My first few summers in Halifax, I wallowed in the rich variety of summer festivals and special events—JazzFest, MultiFest and Tall Ships made a huge impression. Some 20 years later, covering these same big events as a journalist, they still impress me. It’s not just the cha-ching of commerce, which I’ve certainly come to appreciate. And it’s not just about drawing thousands of people, although that’s certainly part of it.
What really amazes me is the way they reflect how our city has evolved, while continuing to spur change. The Halifax Jazz Festival has become one of the East Coast’s biggest musical events, while our city has become more culturally and artistically diverse. Halifax Pride started as a small, defiant celebration of a marginalized community and has grown into a mainstream, inclusive rite of summer.
The power of events to bring people together and build a better community dovetails neatly with what Halifax Magazine is all about. That’s why we’re proud to sponsor the first Nova Scotia Open and the Right Some Good pop-up dining festival in June. And in July, we continue as sponsors of two of Halifax’s biggest and oldest summer events: Pride and JazzFest.
In our cover story, Sarah Sawler digs deeper into what events like these really mean for our community. She explores the economic, social and educational cases for these events. Check it out for some surprisingly big numbers, and some expert advice on why Halifax must avoid the risk of “event fatigue.” And related to that story, we’re thrilled to have freelance photographer Randal Tomada back, with our Iwo Jima-inspired cover.
As balmy summer days have Haligonians heading for wide-open spaces, it’s also time to consider our natural setting. We’re blessed to have pristine wilderness just minutes away. Have you ever heard of Rogue’s Roost? (Spoiler: We’re talking about the wilderness tract, not the pub.) Or have you ever looked out at McNab’s Island, and wondered why you can’t hop on a ferry and spend the day there? Once upon a time, it was Halifax’s summer playground—now, it’s virtually inaccessible. Chris Benjamin and Erica Butler have those stories.
And, as always, we want to hear from you. Send questions, comments, story ideas and anything else you’d like to get off your chest to me at tadams@metroguide.ca.

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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