Halifax is a city rich in history and culture, providing a unique backdrop to the Christmas season. Known for its harbour views, friendly locals and lively arts scene, this Nova Scotian city has plenty to offer over winter.
Central to this is Halifax Christmas Market, known as Glow Gardens, a family-friendly spectacle that draws visitors and locals alike to enjoy the holiday spirit in a bustling atmosphere.
In this article, I’ll cover all the essential information, such as the confirmed 2023 dates, opening times, market location and the local specialities that you can look forward to discovering.
When the holidays arrive, Halifax turns into a winter wonderland, with the city centre sparkling with thousands of twinkling lights.
Halifax Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas market in Halifax truly stands out due to its emphasis on supporting local businesses, offering a diverse array of unique, handcrafted goods from Nova Scotian artisans.
With over 100 stalls, you can find everything from handcrafted jewellery, locally sourced food products, bespoke artwork, and much more.
The market is not just a shopping destination; it also features live music performances to keep visitors entertained as they browse. Children can look forward to meeting Santa, ensuring a fun experience for the whole family.
Below are the details for the best of Halifax’s Christmas markets and craft fairs.
1. Glow Gardens
There are many Christmas markets spread out across the city. Halifax Christmas Market is known as Glow Gardens and is held at the Exhibition Centre from late November until early January.
Halifax Christmas Market dates: 23rd November 2023 to 1st January 2024.
Location: Halifax Exhibition Centre.
Opening times: 11am to 8pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Admission: Tickets are available online, sold in advance.
Santa: Yes, until 23rd December 2023.
Ice skating: No.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of option.
Gluten-free: Yes, some options.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion. 2,000 free parking places are available in front of the exhibition building.
Reason to visit: Maritime charm; an eclectic blend of crafts, food, and music; enchanting Glow Gardens.
Recommended tour: Citadel and Peggy’s Cove tour.
Specialities: Nova Scotia lobster rolls; traditional Acadian rappie pie; wild blueberry desserts; Halifax donairs.
Where to stay: The Muir is a highly-rated hotel, in Downtown Halifax.
Hotels near Halifax Christmas Market
The Downtown Halifax area is ideal for accommodation when visiting the Christmas markets. Its central location provides easy access to the Halifax Exhibition Centre, where the market is held, and it’s also home to a vibrant collection of shops, restaurants and cultural attractions.
For a comfortable and conveniently located stay, I’d recommend the Muir Hotel, a popular choice due to its proximity to the central location and the high standard of service it provides.
To explore more of Canada’s holiday events in 2023, read my guide to the best Christmas markets in Canada.
Location of Halifax Christmas Market
2. Christmas at the Forum
Visiting Christmas at the Forum, you can expect to experience an extensive range of quality crafts and art.
This event has been a fixture in the festive calendar for over 45 years, attracting loyal attendees and a steady stream of new visitors every year.
This has cemented its place as the most popular and longest-running Christmas craft show in Eastern Canada.
Christmas at the Forum dates:
3rd to 5th November 2023.
10th to 12th November 2023.
17th to 19th November 2023.
Location: The Halifax Forum, 2901 Windsor Street.
Weekend 1: Friday and Saturday: 10am to 9pm. Sunday 10am to 5pm.
Weekend 2: Friday: 12pm to 9pm. Saturday: 12pm to 5pm. Sunday 10am to 5pm.
Weekend 2: Friday: 10am to 8pm. Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 5pm.
Admission: $5 if you buy online. $7 at the door.
Tickets: Buy online.
3. Nova Scotia Arts & Craft Show
When you visit the annual Nova Scotia Art and Craft Show, you’ll find yourself in the midst of a carefully curated selection of works from Nova Scotia makers. The show is known for the quality and variety it presents, now set in a new location with expanded booth spaces and broad aisles for a relaxed shopping experience.
The event adheres strictly to a policy of showcasing only handcrafted items primarily made by Nova Scotia artisans. You’ll find an impressive collection of unique handmade goods, and the benefits of free parking and admission further enhance your experience.
Nova Scotia Art & Craft Show dates: 3rd and 4th November 2023.
Location: Cedar Event Center, 111 Clayton Park Drive.
Opening times: Friday: 10am to 5pm. Saturday: 10am to 4pm.
Christmas in Halifax
Christmas Specialties in Halifax
Butter Tarts: A quintessential Canadian sweet treat, butter tarts comprise a pastry shell filled with a gooey mixture of butter, sugar and eggs, often with a sprinkling of raisins or pecans. The final result is a sweet, sticky delight that melts in your mouth.
Tourtière: A hallmark of French-Canadian cuisine, tourtière is a meat pie traditionally prepared for Christmas. It’s filled with finely diced pork, veal or beef and seasoned with a unique mix of spices, giving it a distinct and savoury flavour.
Nanaimo Bars: Named after the city of Nanaimo in British Columbia, these no-bake bars have three delicious layers: a wafer crumb base, custard-flavoured butter icing in the middle and a layer of melted chocolate on top.
Acadian Rappie Pie: A dish from Nova Scotia’s Acadian region, this is a hearty casserole-like pie made from grated potatoes, often filled with chicken or pork.
Bûche de Noël: While originating from France, this Christmas log or Yule log is a staple across French-Canadian tables during the holiday season. It’s essentially a sponge cake, rolled and filled with cream, and covered with chocolate to resemble a log.
Split Pea Soup: This hearty, comforting soup, made from dried split peas, vegetables, and often ham or other meat, is a staple in Canadian homes during the cold winter months.
Vegetarian Poutine: A vegetarian twist on a Canadian classic, this dish swaps the traditional meat-based gravy with a vegetarian alternative while keeping the iconic cheese curds and chips.
Blueberry Grunt: An East Coast favourite, blueberry grunt features fresh or frozen blueberries cooked with sugar and a bit of lemon, topped with sweet dumplings steamed right in the blueberry sauce.
Food at the Christmas Market
Halifax Donairs: Not to be confused with its Mediterranean counterpart, the Halifax donair consists of spiced ground beef cooked on a vertical spit, thinly sliced, and served on a warm pita. The key to a genuine Halifax donair is the sweet, creamy sauce made from condensed milk, vinegar, garlic and sugar.
Mulled Cider: You’ll find vendors serving this warm, aromatic drink made from local apple cider, sweetened with maple syrup, and infused with seasonal spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. It’s a festive favourite, especially on chilly evenings.
Smoked Salmon Bagels: Here, a classic bagel is generously spread with cream cheese and topped with locally sourced, smoked Atlantic salmon, a true nod to Halifax’s maritime heritage.
Pretzels: Imported from German Christmas market tradition, these hand-rolled, twisted bread are often sprinkled with coarse salt, providing a savoury snack to enjoy whilst you meander through the market.
Maple Candy: This sweet treat, found across Canada, is made by boiling maple syrup and then pouring it onto fresh snow to harden. The result is a toffee-like sweet that’s a favourite with both children and adults.
Roasted Chestnuts: An international winter treat, the aroma of chestnuts roasting on an open fire is bound to fill the air. These make a warm, sweet and nutty snack perfect for a winter’s day out.
Poffertjes: A nod to the Dutch holiday tradition, these are small, fluffy pancakes usually served with a dusting of powdered sugar and a dollop of butter, a sweet and satisfying snack as you explore the market.
Churros with Chocolate: A staple at Christmas markets worldwide, these Spanish-originated deep-fried dough pastries, dusted with sugar and served with a side of thick hot chocolate for dipping, offer a comforting indulgence on a cold winter’s day.
What to Buy in Halifax
Maritime Crafts: Numerous stalls at the Christmas market feature locally made crafts, often inspired by Halifax’s rich maritime heritage. You’ll find items such as handcrafted wooden ship models, nautical-themed jewellery, and artwork inspired by the local sea and landscapes.
Maple Syrup Products: Canada’s famous maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes. Many stalls sell a variety of products like maple candies, maple-infused chocolates, and even maple vinegar, all produced from the region’s abundant maple trees. These could make for great stocking fillers.
Local Artwork: Supporting the local art community, several stalls sell unique paintings, prints and sculptures created by talented Halifax artists. These pieces capture the essence of the city, making for a truly personal gift or keepsake.
East Coast Knitwear: Hand-knitted items such as woolly hats, mittens, scarves and socks are a common sight at the market. Crafted by local artisans, these items are often made from locally sourced wool, providing warmth in the harsh East Coast winters.
Seaglass Jewellery: Due to the city’s coastal location, sea glass jewellery is unique at the Halifax Christmas Markets. These pieces often incorporate beautifully smoothed and weathered glass fragments collected from the region’s beaches into stylish earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.
Handmade Soaps and Candles: You can purchase a variety of locally made soaps and candles at the market, often featuring the fragrances of native plants like balsam fir, blueberries and maritime rose.
Local Spirits: Distilleries from across Nova Scotia bring their wares to the market, offering a selection of locally made whiskies, gins, and specialty liqueurs. These often feature unique regional flavours, such as apple brandy made from Annapolis Valley apples.
For tips and local insights about Halifax, this first-timer’s guide to visiting Halifax is a great starting point. This is provided by the official website of Halifax Tourism.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here are a few tips on how we can travel more responsibly in Halifax at Christmas.
Renewable Energy Use: When booking your accommodation, consider choosing hotels in Halifax that use renewable energy sources.
Food Waste Reduction: When sampling the dishes at the Christmas markets, try to only order as much as you can consume to minimise food waste.
Ethical Consumption: When shopping for souvenirs or gifts at the Christmas market, support local artisans and vendors using ethically sourced materials.
Sustainable Diets: Aim to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet during your visit. Halifax has a variety of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, are there are plenty of options at the Christmas markets.
Sustainable Transport: Reduce carbon emissions by using Halifax’s public transportation system or cycling. The city has an extensive bike rental system, I Heart Bikes, which provides an enjoyable, eco-friendly way to explore the city and its waterfront area.
The Halifax Christmas Market dates are from the 23rd of November 2023 to the 1st of January 2024.
Halifax hosts several Christmas markets, the most notable being Glow Gardens at the Halifax Exhibition Centre and Christmas at the Forum.
The opening hours can differ among various markets; however, Glow Gardens is open from 11am to 8pm.
Winter in Halifax can be chilly, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. Snowfall is common, so packing warm clothing and sturdy shoes is advisable.
Halifax in winter, particularly during Christmas, provides its own charm. The city’s Christmas markets, with their lively atmosphere and array of unique items, make for an excellent holiday experience.
If you want to leave a Halifax Xmas Market review, comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Halifax, Canada. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.