Fraser & Hoyt Incentives’ Director, Business Development Erika Wien reflects on what makes Halifax, Nova Scotia the perfect destination for your upcoming Incentive Travel Program or Corporate Meeting.
I grew up in Halifax and have always felt proud of where I come from. Having said this, I am very glad that I have also lived elsewhere in the world – Boston for Grade 11 of high school, and an exciting 23 years in Toronto. Two years ago I made the choice to move home to Halifax, leaving behind many friends and colleagues and hoping to remain working in the events industry. I could not be happier to have made this decision, even before COVID restrictions hit.
Returning to Halifax has been delightful. There is definitely a buzz and energy waiting to explode once COVID is more managed throughout the globe. We have two new hotels, a plethora of new restaurants, and many buildings going up in the downtown core that will lead to more stores, eats and fun places to explore.
Here are some of the top things I love about Halifax, and why you’ll love it too as a destination of choice for your meeting and incentive events:
- Walkability: From any hotel in the downtown core you can easily access the waterfront, Spring Garden Road (our main shopping street), the Seaport Farmer’s market and Citadel Hill on foot. There are dozens of great restaurants, bars and pubs scattered throughout. As Halifax is built into a hill, those with mobility concerns might consider staying along the waterfront or in the Spring Garden Road area to avoid steep inclines while still being able to absorb the city’s offerings. Taxis and Uber are available, as well as VIP transfers.
- Hotel options: With two new hotels in the city there is now more choice for your groups: Sutton Place (opened September 2020) and MUIR, a Marriott Autograph Collection (opening late 2021). There are several other hotels that work for larger conferences within the city centre, and some more boutique options for smaller events.The new Halifax Convention Centre, ideally located in the heart of downtown, is spacious and well thought out (ex: there are no chandeliers or columns obstructing sight lines for meetings); and feels more like the well appointed convention space of a large hotel rather than a huge box.
- An interesting mix of history and modernity: One of the oldest cities in North America and filled with many beautiful and historic buildings, Halifax is at its heart a seaport with container piers, railroad systems and industrial sites in evidence. Complimented by structures such as our globally award-winning Central Library (complete with cantilevered top floor) and modern condo developments throughout, this city boasts a great mix of historic and modern architecture.
- Views & Green Space: You can walk the length of Halifax waterfront on the nearly 4km boardwalk, from Historic Properties to the Seaport Market. You can also hop on the ferry to Dartmouth and back for the best view of both cities and our twin bridges that connect them. Watch the harbour for sightings of sea life, oil rigs, naval ships and even submarines. The Public Gardens is an oasis of manicured paths and gardens and Point Pleasant Park offers stunning vistas, old fort ruins and walking trails.
- Music: Nova Scotia is known for its ties to Scottish and Irish music – we can hire bagpipers to escort your attendees into an event or even have a band that begins with traditional bagpipes and morphs into bagpipe rock to get your crowd energized.
There are several go-to pub bands for hire to create a genuine East Coast Kitchen Party atmosphere. One of my favourite entertainment offerings is hiring 2 or 3 who have achieved National acclaim to entertain with songs written by Maritimers that your attendees will be familiar with including: Sloan, Anne Murray, Joel Plaskett, April Wine, Sarah McLaughlan and more.
Halifax offers many different Venue experiences:
For Gala events we have The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier21, providing an immersive experience into how it felt to arrive in Canada in the 1920s (for emotional impact and personalization we can even have their researchers look up immigration information on attendees’ families); erecting a tent at the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site; creating an exclusive dinner at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic nestled in a room filled with sailboats and access to fascinating displays on the Halifax explosion and the Titanic’s connections to the city; and All Saints Cathedral which boasts spectacular lighting, great acoustics and a space we can decorate in any style.
We can also create a genuine Halifax pub experience at one of the waterfront restaurants, including nautical décor, extravagant seafood & local NS fare menu, local entertainment vignettes and authentic Maritime sign-along music.
A visit to Halifax is not complete without venturing into the rural areas outside the city:
- Peggy’s Cove: While a busy tourist destination, this spot never fails to impress with its glacial boulders and pounding waves. Take the Lighthouse Route where you will pass authentic fishing villages and ocean basins on your way. There are fabulous hiking trails and a lovely local restaurant that can accommodate small groups in the area. (45 minutes from downtown Halifax) Peggy’s Cove has also recently developed infrastructure to enable access to this Nova Scotia must-see site to persons of diverse abilities through the addition of an observation deck and washrooms to be completed September 2021. You can learn more about the development here.
- Mahone Bay and Lunenburg: The delight of these two seaside towns is walking around discovering their spectacular water views, charming & colourful historic buildings, boutique shops and restaurants. This is my favourite day trip for visitors to Nova Scotia. (Mahone Bay is 1h 25min and Lunenburg 1h 45min from downtown Halifax)
- Annapolis Valley: Head to the other side of Nova Scotia and a completely different world of fertile fields and red clay. The Valley boasts 12 excellent wineries (several of which will allow group bookings), incredible hiking trails and views & Noggins Farmer’s Market for hay-rides and cider tasting. (1 hour from downtown Halifax)
- Active pursuits: Few know that Nova Scotia boasts some of the top year-round surfing in North America, and we have two beaches that offer near perfect waves for learning – Lawrencetown and Martinique. We have ample sea and lake choices for paddle boarding or kayaking, and excellent hiking and biking trails. (All are within a maximum 1h 15min drive from downtown, with many much closer, and are great to offer as Optional Activities)
What none of the words or photos above capture about Nova Scotia is the charm and friendliness of the people. I had forgotten how amazing this feels and was pleasantly reminded when I moved back. There is also something to be said for seeing glimpses of water through ocean, lakes and rivers at almost every turn.
We look forward to sharing our beautiful home with you and your guests!
If you are interested in learning more about what your Incentive Travel Program or Corporate Meeting can look like in beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia reach out to us today.