Did you know Nova Scotia is an epic winter and holiday getaway? The capital city is no exception either, there are so many fun and festive Christmas things to do in Halifax that make it such a wonderful holiday getaway!
From the Halifax Christmas market festivities at the Evergreen Festival to holiday shopping, and visiting a TALKING Christmas tree, we had the best time exploring all the joyful and merry things to do in Halifax in December on our most recent visit!
Check out what makes Halifax a wonderful place to celebrate the holiday season and Christmas!
We recommend having at least a full weekend to enjoy all the fun Halifax Christmas festivities and if you’re able to plan a longer visit, we recommend also renting a car and doing a fun holiday-themed road trip like we did down the South Shore and seeing some of the other wonderful things to do in Nova Scotia at Christmas, like visit the Balsam Fir Christmas Tree Capital of the World and all the cool and unique lobster trap Christmas trees (and buoy Christmas tree) the province has to offer!
Festive Things to do in Halifax in December
Shop & Taste Your Way Around the Evergreen Festival
Leading up to the holidays, one of the best things to do in Halifax in December is enjoy the Halifax Christmas Market, the 4 week-long Evergreen Festival located along the waterfront! This winter celebration and holiday market is full of fun festivities! You’ll find plenty of outdoor fire pits to cozy up by too!
You’ll want to sip and sample your way around the various Nova Scotia craft beverage makers and shop the local vendors who are selling their goodies at the Evergreen Market, made of 22 charming wooden chalets that feel straight out of a holiday movie and classic Christmas market!
Along the Halifax waterfront and shops in Downtown Halifax and Dartmouth, you’ll be able to admire Evergreen Bright, all the twinkling light displays and installations for the holidays along the outdoor walking trail. While you can follow the official map, you can easily spot these while exploring all the fun festivities during the Halifax Christmas Market and Evergreen Festival areas!
Our favorite was the tunnel of lights and the Christmas tree made of red bicycles at The Bicycle Thief restaurant!
A fun area to check out is the Evergreen Winter Sports Zone. There are several outdoor games, including miniature curling to giant Connect Four games fun for all ages. Or if you’re a hockey fan, you can catch the next game cozied up next to a fire pit as it’s projected on an outdoor big screen (they also do the occasional holiday movie screening here too).
Another fun spot to check out at the Halifax Christmas Market and Evergreen Festival is the Evergreen Stage at The BG, an outdoor beer garden with snacks and a line up of live music on their stage! Don’t worry, there are more fire pits here too!
Maybe you’ll run into Spruce the Gonk to snap a photo, the official Evergreen Festival mascot who wanders around the festival!
If you’re looking for a way to warm up and have a sweet tooth, be sure to stop at any of the vendors on the Evergreen Cocoa Trail serving up, you guessed it, hot chocolate! We tried both Peace by Chocolate and Rousseau Chocolatier, it’s hard to choose a favorite!
PS both Peace by Chocolate and Rousseau Chocolatier also have great chocolatey gifts perfect for gift giving too! Rousseau has the coolest chocolate Christmas trees that are almost too pretty to eat!
Meet Woody the Talking Christmas Tree
One of the best Christmas things to do in Halifax, and a long-time tradition that recently returned, is head to MicMac Mall in Dartmouth to talk to Woody the Talking Christmas Tree!
After a 15 year hiatus, Woody the Talking Christmas Tree returned a few years ago (along with a bit of a facelift and makeover) to brighten up holiday shoppers’ day by interacting and having full-on conversations with kids and adults!
I about cracked up because when we came, Scott not only didn’t know what we were going to see (surprise!!) but we were the only adults in line to talk to Woody. I even asked the elvish helper if adults usually talk to Woody and they assured me that Woody talks to people of all ages!
What’s funny is that Woody the Talking Christmas Tree is really witty and hilarious in real time. If you’re visiting Halifax at Christmas, this is a must! It has to be one of the more unique Halifax Christmas traditions!
Do Some Holiday Shopping along Spring Garden Road
It goes without saying that the holidays are a time of shopping for loved ones (and yourself)! So, one of the Christmas things to do in Halifax that you’ll want to check out are all the holiday shopping opportunities along Spring Garden Road, the main commercial shopping street in the city.
Just a short walk from the waterfront, this thoroughfare has a range of big name retailers to small, local boutiques. One store not to be missed is One store not to be missed is Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia, a large gift shop featuring only gifts and products from Atlantic Canada artisans and companies!
Stroll Through Halifax Public Gardens
Anytime of year is a good time to visit Halifax Public Gardens, one of the best preserved Victorian-era gardens in North America! Maybe if you’re lucky like us, there will be a fresh blanket of snow too to make it all the more of an enchanting place to take a stroll!
One of the best things to do in Halifax in December is take a holiday stroll through Halifax Public Gardens, upon entering the main entrance at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street, you’ll be greeted with the gorgeous Victorian cast iron gate with a giant wreath!
Take a winter walk through the gardens, they truly are beautiful. They sometimes host a holiday Parade of Lights exhibit featuring a festive, illuminated trail through the park during the holidays. However, during our visit to Halifax at Christmas in 2023, this was not an option. Here’s to hoping they bring that back for future holiday seasons!
See the Giant Menorah and Christmas Tree at Grand Parade
I know, I know, this post is very focused on Christmas things to do in Halifax, but you can visit the Grand Parade in Downtown Halifax to not only see the giant Christmas tree but also one of the largest menorahs in Canada for our friends of Jewish faith celebrating Hanukkah.
The Grand Parade is centrally located to all the Halifax Christmas and holiday festivities too, so it’s worth stopping by day or night to see both the giant Christmas tree and menorah!
Sip Your Way Along the Cocoa Trail
For those who have a sweet tooth and love a good cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day, you’re in luck as one of the best things to do in Halifax in December is sip your way along the Evergreen Festival’s Cocoa Trail! There are over a dozen participating shops, including great chocolatiers like Peace by Chocolate and Rousseau Chocolatier!
Get yourself a traditional hot cup of cocoa or try one of the fancy flavors like maple hot chocolate, gingerbread hot chocolate, candy cane white hot chocolate, or s’mores hot chocolate to name a few of the flavorful and decadent options!
Join the Citadel by Candlelight Holiday Tour
One of the most iconic landmarks of Halifax is the Citadel and its clock tower. The 18th-century citadel is one of the most history-rich landmarks of the city too that played a crucial role in both Halifax and Canada’s military history and one of the most famous places to visit and things to do in Halifax throughout the year.
Another one of the best things to do in Halifax in December is join the Citadel by Candlelight Holiday Tour at the historic fortress atop Citadel Hill. During the holiday season, you can join an actual candlelit tour at night and learn from your guide dressed as a 78th Highlander about holiday traditions of the 19th century including a visit from Father Christmas, the Victorian-era Santa Claus!
Along the way, you’ll hear soldier stories by winter campfire with a hot drink, we got a nice taste of hot chocolate during our visit, and see how students would have celebrated the holiday season in the classroom within the fortified walls, and of course, try a bit of sugar plum from Father Christmas.
See the Lights of Delightful Downtown
One of the best things to do during Christmas in Halifax at night is head to the former Halifax Memorial Library Building at Grafton Park and enjoy the light show series known as Delightful Downtown, a beautiful projection on the building synched to music!
This light projection series actually continues beyond the holidays, they change the light show theme every few weeks to highlight a different holiday or significant moment in Halifax history through light projections and music.
Each show lasts a few minutes with a two-minute break between shows. During our visit to Halifax at Christmas there was a cute holiday-themed cartoon with dancing sugary sweets and candy canes to holiday packages and presents filled with jolly music!
There was also a historic projection that rotated between the holiday showcase about the first Black doctor in Nova Scotia, Dr. Clement Ligoure and how he was a hero during the tragic Halifax Explosion, which took place on December 6, 1917. Dr. Celement Ligoure, a Trinidad-born physician treated victims and patients for free in his private North Street clinic, the Amanda Private Hospital.
Also, some Christmas light-wrapped trees around the city are also a part of the Delightful Downtown holiday installations!
Watch the Light Show at Historic Properties
Another one of the most festive Christmas things to do in Halifax is head to Historic Properties, some of the oldest buildings in Halifax, and a gorgeous, well-preserved example of architecture from the late 1700s and early 1800s along the Halifax waterfront!
During our first Nova Scotia road trip, we spent our first days in Halifax and this was one of my favorite spots to walk through at night under the strings of lights surrounded by the old stone buildings. And while you can enjoy that throughout the year, during the holiday season and Christmas in Halifax, they host the Holiday Tree Light Show!
The outdoor area where you are walking along the cobbled lane you’ll spot Christmas trees, at night these trees put on a little holiday show twinkling and flashing synched up to festive music! I couldn’t help but dance a little to the fun music and snazzy lights!
Inside the Historic Properties buildings is a small shopping center where you can find a few local retailers and boutiques for more holiday shopping! It’s worth checking out as the stores are really cute, I even got a nice pair of winter mittens from Northern Watters Knitwear & Tartan Shop, where you can also find a great selection of products in the Nova Scotia tartan too!
Do More Holiday Shopping Around Halifax
I love shopping in Halifax. There are so many great boutiques and stores to check out in addition to the places we mentioned (like MicMac Mall, Spring Garden Road, Historic Properties, the Evergreen Market) but there are a few other cool places I haven’t mentioned yet that are noteworthy to add to your Christmas things to do in Halifax!
If you have time, it’s worth visiting the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia for the exhibits alone, I am a huge fan of local folk artist, Maud Lewis and her original home is on display here along with many of her works. But if you don’t have time during all your Halifax Christmas exploring, don’t worry you can still visit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia gift shop!
There are all kinds of local artist gifts plus fun gifts themed around many of the artworks displayed in the museum. I especially love the Maud Lewis gifts found here (Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia also has a great selection of Maud Lewis gifts too!).
Take the ferry across the Halifax Harbour over to Dartmouth for an afternoon of shopping too! Along Portland Street, you’ll find a few cool shops like Renegade Records (in addition to a Taz Records outpost at Morley’s Coffee across the street), Strange Adventures is a cool comic book store, and the Dart Gallery also has a few fun gifts too by local artists to name a few.
Not to mention, there are great places to grab a bite to eat in Dartmouth, we highly recommend the omakase menu at Doraku and also checking out the local craft beverage spots like Lake City Cider, Brightwood Brewery, New Scotland Brewery, and North Brewing Company.
Speaking of record stores, while you’re in Halifax check out Taz Records, a giant record and vinyl emporium with a great selection! I could have easily gotten carried away here, but instead showed some restraint and only bought two records.
And two of the cutest shops our local friend Cailin took us to are Biscuit General Store and Independent Mercantile Company for great gifts, home goods, and other fun finds and goodies. The only thing about both of these stores is that it’s hard to leave without buying things for yourself too!
Hit up a Holiday Bar
We love a fun festive bar or restaurant during the holidays, it’s one of our favorite things to seek out during the season in New York City at home, so we were excited to discover that there were Halifax Christmas bars too!
The most decked-out holiday bar we found was the Sleigh Bar at Bar Sofia, a Latin American restaurant that transforms into a winter wonderland during the holidays! They had a full menu of holiday-inspired and infused cocktails too!
If you’re looking for a nice sit-down meal, make a reservation at The Bicycle Thief, which not only has a beautiful bar area, but beautiful holiday decorations including its red bicycle Christmas tree pictured earlier in this guide!
The Economy Shoe Shop on Argyle Street is a really cool pub and bistro to visit any time of the year, and its paint job on the interior is regularly Christmas colors! During the holidays with the extra flair of decorations, it feels very in season and is worth checking out!
There you have it, all of our favorite Christmas things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia! Did we miss any of your favorite things to do in Halifax in December during the holiday season? Let us know in the comments below!
If you find yourself traveling through Nova Scotia, be sure to check out more of our guides:
- Things to do in the Annapolis Valley & Wolfville
- Things to do in Lunenburg
- The Most Charming Towns in Nova Scotia to Visit
- Nova Scotia Road Trip Itinerary