Nova Scotia at Christmas? This might not be the first destination that pops in your head when you think of the joyous holiday season, but hold that thought for a second. Why is that?
Did you know that Nova Scotia is home to the Balsam Fir Christmas Tree Capital of the World in Lunenburg County? Or that the city of Halifax has a festive holiday market? And with 13,000 km of coastline and being home to Canada’s Ocean Playground and the Lobster Capital of the country, you can find fishing village after fishing village showcasing their holiday spirit through their own unique lobster trap Christmas trees or trees made entirely out of buoys!
After our trip to Nova Scotia in December, we discovered that the province is full of seasonal and festive fun! So when you’re considering where to go to get in the holiday spirit, let Nova Scotia be high on your radar! Check out all the festive and fun things to do in Nova Scotia at Christmas from our fun road trip.
We started our journey in Halifax, spending two days enjoying all the festive fun from holiday markets to oohing and ahhing at holiday displays then making our way down the South Shore checking out all the impressive and unique lobster trap Christmas trees and towns along the way!
Disclaimer: This post was done in collaboration with Visit Nova Scotia, however, all opinions and photos are our own!
Things Not to Miss During Christmas in Nova Scotia
Halifax Christmas Market – Evergreen Festival
Located along the scenic and historic Halifax waterfront is the 4 week-long winter celebration and holiday market! The Evergreen Festival is one of the most joyous places to be and things to do in Nova Scotia at Christmas time.
Cozy up next to an outdoor fire pit, shop around local vendors, and sample drinks from local craft beverage makers in the 22 wooden chalets that make up the Evergreen Market.
Be sure to admire the twinkling lights that make up Evergreen Bright, the outdoor walking trail that follow the outdoor light installations and holiday decorations in Downtown Halifax and Dartmouth! This is easily done just by walking around enjoying the Evergreen Festival activities, or if you want to see all the spots that are officially a part of Evergreen Bright, you can pick up a map.
Maybe you’ll run into Spruce the Gonk, the Evergreen Festival mascot who wanders the festival! If you’re looking for a way to warm up, 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!
And if you’re looking for some hands on fun, head to the Evergreen Winter Sports Zone where you’ll find fun games like miniature curling. Or if you want to watch a hockey game, you can sit next to a fire pit in an Adirondack chair and enjoy the projector airing games live! They also do holiday movie screenings here too!
Lastly, you can also check out live music and performances on the Evergreen Stage at The BG on the Halifax Waterfront. Cozy up next to a fire pit and order a beer or bite to eat while you’re here!
The Evergreen Festival in Halifax is such a fun holiday market, we spent two days coming back and forth between checking out all the fun things to do in Halifax and the festival activities!
More Halifax Holiday Festivities
Beyond the Halifax Christmas Market and festivities surrounding the Evergreen Festival, there are more Halifax holiday happenings around the city!
If you’re looking to do some holiday shopping, head down Spring Garden Road, a main shopping and commercial hub in Halifax with shops decked to the halls with boughs of holly and jolly! One store not to be missed is Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia, a gift shop featuring only goodies from Atlantic Canada artisans and companies!
Take a winter stroll through Halifax Public Gardens, one of the best surviving examples of Victorian Gardens on the continent. We were gifted with a blanket of snow, which made us feel like we were in a snow globe!
One of our favorite spots in Halifax is wandering through the Historic Properties complex where you can see a gorgeous example of late 18th-century and early 19th-century architecture steeped with history.
Inside the buildings, you can find a selection of boutiques and shops, but at night during the holidays, you can enjoy the Holiday Tree Light Show where the illuminated Christmas trees and twinkling lights are synched to music.
If you’re looking for more holiday decor, head to Grand Parade to see the giant holiday tree and giant menorah! Or, if you’re looking for plenty of photo opportunities, you can always head to Glow, an indoor Christmas Festival full of lights and holiday decor inside the Halifax Exhibition Centre.
If you’re looking for holiday classics, head to the Symphony Nova Scotia’s rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet performance where viewers can see the classic enchanting tale of Clara, a young girl whose nutcracker doll comes to life on Christmas Eve.
And if you want to have a festive cocktail, head to Sleigh Bar at Bar Sofia, a Latin American restaurant that transforms into a winter wonderland during the holidays!
See more of our favorite things to do in Halifax at Christmas in our full guide!
Join the Citadel by Candlelight Holiday Tour
Another one of the best things to do in Nova Scotia in December while you’re in Halifax is join the Citadel by Candlelight Holiday Tour at the historic fortress atop Citadel Hill. This 18th-century citadel played a critical role in Canada’s military history that’s open to the public as a museum and tours.
During the holidays, you can join an actual candlelit tour at night and learn from a docent 78th Highlander guide about holiday traditions of the 19th century including a visit from Father Christmas, a Victorian-era Santa!
Along the way, you’ll hear soldier stories by winter campfire with a hot drink, 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.
Meet Woody the Talking Christmas Tree
One of the most unique things to do in Nova Scotia in winter and during the holiday season is head to MicMac Mall in Dartmouth and meet Woody the Talking Christmas Tree, a local holiday tradition!
Woody the Talking Christmas Tree recently returned to MicMac Mall after a 15 year hiatus. The new and improved Woody continues to entertain holiday shoppers at the mall! He interacts with visitors in real-time and is pretty witty!
I am not going to lie, having a few minutes’ conversation with Woody the Talking Christmas Tree is one of our favorite highlights and one of the more unique things to do in Nova Scotia at Christmas time!
Visit the Balsam Fir Christmas Tree Capital of the World!
Did you know that Nova Scotia is home to the Balsam Fir Christmas Tree Capital of the World? That’s right! Lunenburg County offers the ideal climate to grow Balsam Fir trees and specifically, Nova Scotia Balsam Fir trees are the most desirable Christmas trees in the world!
They even have an adorable mascot, Twig the Elf from the North Pole! You can purchase the storybook of Twig the Elf for children by author Judy O’Leary and while you’re exploring the best things to do in Nova Scotia in December, you can stop by Twig the Elf’s Chalet on a Balsam Fir Tree Farm in New Ross!
Twig’s Chalet is the most adorable ‘elf-sized’ A-Frame cabin along Ruby’s Trail. Visitors are welcome to wander along this beautiful trail surrounded by Balsam Fir trees on a working tree farm and also commemorate the life of Ruby, the granddaughter of the Murphy family.
Ruby’s Trail serves as a tribute and memorial to Baby Ruby, whose life was short but she moved many. Ruby’s family owns this tree farm and wanted to express gratitude to the community who was there for them and memorialize Ruby by sharing this special spot with everyone.
You can enjoy being surrounded by the Balsam Fir trees, enjoy views of New Ross, and witness different stops along the trail to see how baby Ruby has moved so many people.
If you’re coming in winter, you’ll want to make sure you wear proper footwear, there are a few inclines and if there’s snow you’ll want crampons or snowshoes. And if the weather is nice, you may just want to sit and enjoy the view surrounded by Balsam Firs in one of the many Adirondack chairs or benches along the pathway.
Visit the Ross Farm Museum
One of the most unexpected places we enjoyed visiting the most during our visit to Nova Scotia in winter was the Ross Farm Museum, an agricultural museum located in New Ross. During the holidays you can expect some holiday decor and maybe even get lucky enough to see Santa or Father Christmas during your visit!
The museum’s focus is on Nova Scotia’s rural heritage from the 19th century and features hands-on demonstrations throughout the farm from a working Blacksmith shop, a woodworking shop where you can see how to carve a spoon, wooden barrel making, horse carriage rides, and more.
During our visit, we were treated to a special blacksmith in-house, Carmen Legge who often makes guest appearances on the TV show, “The Curse of Oak Island” was doing live blacksmith demonstrations!
The property is beautiful and you’ll get a glimpse into rural life in Nova Scotia during the 1800s. And if you’re lucky you’ll see the traditional oxen team, Lion and Bright which was fun to see in person as a fan of local folk artist, Maud Lewis’s work where she often featured the traditional oxen in her works.
Do Some Holiday Strolling Around Mahone Bay
With all of the things to do in Nova Scotia at Christmas time featured in this guide, you’ll want to make a few stops in the South Shore while you continue exploring the province’s holiday traditions and some of the most incredible towns in Nova Scotia. One great stop is Mahone Bay, famous for its postcard-perfect view across the harbor of the three churches, a popular photography spot.
Among this gorgeous scene that feels out of a postcard, the town itself is charming with colorful storefronts and eateries that make it a worthwhile stop during the holidays when it’s decorated!
You’ll find cozy eateries, like Betty’s at the Kitch (which is also a boutique inn) sitting fireside by the wood-fired oven and ordering some great pizza. Or if you’re looking for a great cafe, check out The Barn Coffee & Social House, a warm and inviting cafe set in a restored heritage barn!
Among great options to dine, there are also a few cute shops and boutiques like Amos Pewter, known for its handcrafted pewter jewelry made here in Mahone Bay (with locations around Nova Scotia, this is the headquarters) or Here Nor There, an adorable local gift shop among a few of the shopping options!
Feel Like You’re in a Hallmark Christmas Movie in Lunenburg
The popularity of Hallmark Christmas movies have made wanting to visit quaint, charming towns that feel like they could be the set of one of these whimsical movies another popular winter tradition. And guess what? Nova Scotia’s towns do have a quaint, charming feel to them that feel plucked right off the screen from those heart-warming, Hallmark classics including Lunenburg.
In fact, Lunenburg does feel straight out of a Hallmark movie at Christmas time because it has been featured in many films and tv shows including the holiday movie, “Christmas Island.”
We have made a point to re-visit all the wonderful things to do in Lunenburg on every visit of ours to Nova Scotia, this was the first time we visited in the winter during the holidays and oh my, it’s somehow even more charming!
Wander up and down Montague and Lincoln Streets for adorable boutiques and shops along with great restaurants to dine at like the Beach Pea Kitchen & Bar or Bar Salvador. One of our favorite spots to visit is Ironworks Distillery which makes incredible rum including unique combinations like Maple Rum!
By dusk, you’ll want to head to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic parking lot at the waterfront for two incredible lobster trap Christmas trees and the Theresa E. Connor schooner donned with strings of twinkling lights for that postcard moment!
And if you love Christmas trees and lights, head up to the Lunenburg Heritage Bandstand where you can see dozens of Christmas trees lit surrounding the adorable gazebo!
You could easily spend a whole afternoon and evening (if not overnight) in Lunenburg, one of the best places to visit in Nova Scotia at Christmas!
PS, if you love vintage shopping be sure to visit Pearl’s Vintage & Thrift for a great curated selection of women’s vintage apparel or Mom’s Buy and Sell for a cool curated collection of antiques! Both of these stores were some of my favorite stops on this holiday visit!
Enjoy a Romantic Getaway
Is there anything better than a cozy romantic winter getaway? Lucky for you, Nova Scotia has plenty of opportunities to enjoy a romantic escape. Imagine waking up with ocean views with the sound of a crackling fireplace and the waves crashing. We enjoyed not one, but two incredibly romantic stays during our Nova Scotia winter trip!
White Point Beach Resort in Hunts Point is a historic resort that’s surrounded by coastline and multiple accommodation options from rustic cottages, glamping in luxury lakeside glomes, and their new luxurious treehouses that overlook the ocean.
We stayed in one of the oceanfront treehouses and didn’t want to leave. Our comfortable cloud bed faced floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors that led out to a balcony overlooking the waves crashing at the shore. With the fireplace crackling and a movie on at night, we enjoyed two romantic evenings in our treehouse.
Better yet, the property has incredible dining options like Elliot’s Dining Room and there are even free-roaming bunnies on the property that you can feed! Just grab a little baggie of feed at the front desk, shake your bag as you walk around and before you know it you’ll have a furry little friend you can feed!
Also, be on the lookout for their holiday decor if you’re visiting Nova Scotia in December as they have Santa’s sleigh being pulled by bunny reindeer!
Another great romantic stay in Nova Scotia in winter is Oceanstone Seaside Resort in Indian Harbour just a 5-minute drive from the infamous Peggy’s Cove!
Spend the afternoon at their Hydrothermal Spa before retreating back to your oceanfront cottage. The cottages are rustic with plenty of comforts like a fireplace and oceanfront views. They also have a full kitchen and private deck to enjoy the ocean views!
While you’re here, be sure to make a dinner reservation at the award-winning Rhubarb Restaurant.
Visit the Queens County Museum in Liverpool
Another fantastic stop in Nova Scotia in December is the town of Liverpool along the South Shore. Liverpool is a great stop year-round with its notable history of privateers when prohibition in the United States allowed Liverpool to become a rum running center in the 1920s,
You’ll find Fort Point Lighthouse, a fun stop along the Lighthouse Route among stops like the Queens County Museum, which transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season.
During the holidays, the Queens County Museum hosts its annual Festival of Trees and Dickensville. You’ll find dozens of beautifully decorated Christmas trees, all with different themes, along with an impressive miniature Dickens Village within the museum.
This is a fun stop, especially while checking out all the other cool things to do in Nova Scotia at Christmas along the South Shore!
Visit the Lobster Capital of Canada and See It’s Lobster Trap Christmas Tree
One of our favorite stops on our first Nova Scotia road trip was eating our weight in lobster at the Lobster Capital of Canada in Barrington! Better yet, one of the most famous lobster trap Christmas trees in Nova Scotia can be found in Barrington at the Causeway Beach Gazebo & Boardwalk, a perfect stop after having a lobster dinner at Captain Kat’s Lobster Shack.
If you’re looking to shop for some gifts, you’ll want to stop by the Barrington Museum Complex where you can find a great boutique shop full of Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada-themed gifts housed in the Old Court House (2401 Nova Scotia Trunk 3) that’s tax free.
If you’re familiar, Nova Scotia has its own tartan, where you’ll find plenty of gifts featuring beautiful and unmistakable blue and yellow tartan throughout clothing, accessories, and gifts. This gift shop in particular carries another special tartan specific to Nova Scotia, an officially registered Lobster Fisheries Tartan, a beautiful red and blue plaid in items like scarves and blankets here!
We found this to be a really special gift and item to purchase here since it’s not only the Lobster Capital of Canada but also ties and homage to Nova Scotia’s ties to Scotland!
Across the way, you can also take a lovely holiday photo at the Seal Island Lighthouse!
Take a Holiday Stroll in Shelburne
Another special place to visit while exploring the South Shore of Nova Scotia in December is the town of Shelburne. This coastal community is known for its well-preserved historic 18th-century architecture and being home to one of the largest British loyalist communities in North America during the Revolutionary War era.
The historic Dock Street is well worth a visit, this is where you’ll find the heart of the historic district and buildings and during the holidays they are decorated beautifully with greenery.
Nearby, you can visit the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Birchtown which preserves the stories of the African American slaves who joined the loyalist movement to gain freedom during the American Revolution as well as their contributions to Canadian history.
While you’re in the Shelburne area, it’s worth visiting the Sandy Point Lighthouse located in a sand bar in the Shelburne Harbour. During high tide, it looks like its own little island out in the harbor, but during low tide you can actually walk out on the ocean floor to the lighthouse!
Continue driving a little further past the Sandy Point Lighthouse and you’ll find another Lobster Trap Christmas tree along Goodick Road.
Stop to Awe at Port Mouton’s Lobster Trap Christmas Tree
Another great stop while exploring the South Shore of Nova Scotia in December is Port Mouton at the Central Port Mouton Breakwater Wharf for their Lobster Trap Christmas tree. This lobster trap tree is dedicated as a memorial to Janet Gatzke, a Port Mouton resident who passed away in 2021 along with memorial buoys where the locals can hang one to memorialize a loved one.
Visit the Buoy Tree at Dennis Point Wharf
Another impressive nautical-inspired tree to visit in Nova Scotia at Christmas is at Dennis Point Wharf, one of the largest commercial fishing wharfs in Canada and home to the giant 26-foot tall buoy Christmas tree!
Surrounded by fishing boats and lobster boats, this tree is just a stunner! It’s made of 827 buoys, and thousands of lights, and is worth coming at dusk for to see it light up during the blue hour.
While you’re in the area, it’s worth stopping by Boatskeg Distilling for a tasting and cocktail. On the weekends they often have live music or some sort of fun event too. It’s worth trying their famous salted caramel vodka and around the holidays you have the treat of trying their gingerbread rum!
Feel Inspired at Peggy’s Cove
Ahh, Peggy’s Cove. Home to one of the most quintessential fishing communities in Canada as well as one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country. A favorite among tourists and locals and typically followed by crowds of others who want to see this infamous Nova Scotia scene!
One of the best things to do in Nova Scotia at Christmas is visit Peggy’s Cove. Bundle up and be prepared for the winter wind and enjoy the inspirational views Peggy’s Point Lighthouse has to offer.
Many of the shops won’t be open this time of year, but you can depend on Sou’Wester Gift & Restaurant to have open doors for a meal or gift shopping. And right outside is a smaller lobster trap Christmas tree made of traditional wooden traps!
This is a great addition if you’re spending a romantic getaway at Oceanstone Seaside Resort nearby!
There you have it, a week’s worth of wonderful things to do in Nova Scotia at Christmas! We spent 5 full days exploring all these sites in Nova Scotia in December, arriving and departing from Halifax and renting a car at the airport.
We love visiting festive places during the holiday season, and Nova Scotia is no exception! From being home to the Balsam Fir Christmas Tree Capital of the World to their unique holiday traditions and lobster trap trees and holiday markets, you’re in for a treat when exploring Nova Scotia around the holiday season!