Looking for some fun things to do in Halifax in the winter? Here are 21 great ideas to get you out and enjoying the winter months.

While it may be cold and snowy, there are still plenty of things to do in Halifax in the winter months. In fact, it’s a great time to get outdoors and explore Nova Scotia without the crowds of tourists that you will find in the summer!

We moved to Halifax right at the beginning of winter, and had so much fun exploring our new hometown and all the winter activities that the city has to offer. Here’s our suggestions for the best things to do in Halifax in the winter.

Halifax Weather in Winter

Winter in Halifax can be chilly, though it’s not as cold as other places in Canada. While it’s location on the East Coast of Canada means the city gets a fair bit of snow, being on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean means that Halifax winter temperatures are more moderate than elsewhere in Canada.

Average temperatures are subzero in the winter. Temperatures in January hover between 0C to -5°C (32°F to 23°F). February is the coldest month, with temperatures dropping to -10°C (14°F), although some days will occasionally see temperatures as low as -20°C or -30°C (-4°F to -22F). The first half of March is still wintry, however, the temperature will begin to rise as the month ends.

January0 to -5°C32°F to 23°F
February-1°C to -10°C30°F to 14°F
March3°C to -6°C37°F to 21°F
Average Winter Temperatures in Halifax

And while Halifax does get a fair bit of snow, because it’s a coastal town, you can expect some rain, even in the winter.

Just be sure to bundle up, wear layers and go enjoy Halifax in the winter!

footsteps on a snow covered trail in a park in Halifax in the winter

Outdoor Things to Do in Halifax in the Winter

Take advantage of the colder weather to get outdoors and enjoy the snow, ice, or even the ocean!

1. Go Skating at the Emera Oval

Located on the Halifax Common, the Emera Oval was originally built for the 2011 Canada Games as a speed skating track. It’s now open to the public every winter for free outdoor skating.

skaters skating on the emera oval in Halifax

Skates and helmets are available for free if you don’t have your own, you just need to show a government ID to rent the equipment.

All children 12 and under must wear a helmet – you can bring your own or rent one there.

Washroom facilities are available but there are no changing rooms or lockers, so bring a tote bag to store your boots or shoes in. There are plenty of benches outdoors beside the ice to put on your skates, and then we just leave our boots under the bench.

The Emera Oval is open from late December until the middle of March, depending on the weather. It’s open every day of the week, but be sure to check their schedule so you’re not showing up when they are doing ice maintenance.

Skating at the Oval is one of the most unique things to do in Halifax in the winter, and has quickly become a family tradition for us. It’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the winter weather!

Fun fact: The Emera Oval is the largest outdoor artificially refrigerated ice surface east of Quebec City.

2. Sled down Citadel Hill

Sledding is always a popular activity in the winter, but in Halifax, you’ve got to try sledding down Citadel Hill. This historic landmark is one of the best places to go sledding in Halifax, in fact, it’s considered one of the top tobogganing hills in Canada. Once you see it, you’ll understand why. 

Citadel Hill, home to the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, is the highest point in the city, and you’ll find great sledding on almost every side of the hill. We find the best place is on the side facing the Wanderers Grounds. It’s pretty steep, but there’s also a large area to coast after finishing the hill. 

Especially after a fresh snowfall, it can be busy on the hill, with many locals coming out to go sledding. Be sure to dress warmly and bring your own toboggan or sled, and experience one of the best things to do in Halifax in the winter. 

3. Walk along the Waterfront Boardwalk

The Halifax Boardwalk is not only the most visited attraction in Nova Scotia, but it’s also one of the world’s longest urban boardwalks, stretching almost 4 kilometres along the picturesque Halifax Harbour. It’s a great spot to stroll along, summer or winter. 

Despite the cold, winter offers a unique perspective of the harbour. The snow covered chairs and icy waters create an interesting scene, but be mindful of the weather, as the boardwalk can get slippery when icy.

brightly coloured adriondack chairs covered in snow on the halifax waterfront

Enjoy stunning views of the historic properties that line the waterfront, some dating back to the 18th century, and keep your eye out for local artwork and unique installations that are found along the boardwalk.

While many of the kiosks, shops and eateries that dot the boardwalk during the summer months are closed in the winter, a few remain open, offering souvenirs or warm drinks and snacks – perfect for a chilly day. 

And if you’re in Halifax in December, be sure to visit the Evergreen Festival, one of the best Christmas Markets in Canada. It’s held along the waterfront, where you can browse local vendors, or walk through the outdoor trail of holiday light displays and installations. 

4. Stroll through Public Gardens

Right in the heart of downtown Halifax, the Public Gardens are a fantastic place to wander through year-round.

While the gardens are absolutely gorgeous in the summer, it’s also beautiful to see in the winter months. Under a cover of snow, the ironwork gates, ornate fountains and floral displays turn the park into a winter wonderland. 

The paths are well maintained and it’s a great spot to get away from the city and enjoy the quiet winter scenery.

The Public Gardens are open from 8 am to 4 pm daily, and evenings in November and December for the Holiday Light display.

5. Get Out for a Hike

Winter in Halifax is a fantastic time to get outdoors and go for a hike. There are plenty of hiking trails near Halifax, ranging from short walks to longer hikes.

Shubie Park, located just across the harbour in Dartmouth, is a top choice locals and my personal favourite. While we love hiking there in the summer as well, I think it’s even better in the winter, when you have the trails almost to yourself. It’s our regular morning hike several times a week! 

Shubenacadie Canal in Shubie Park, Dartmouth in the winter
Shubie Park

It’s a fantastic urban park, with kilometres of trails and a large off-leash area for dogs as well. Choose from a shorter trail that winds along the canal or one of the longer trails that will lead you through the park and along the shore of Lake Charles.

In Halifax, the Chain of Lakes Trail offers an accessible, almost flat route along a former railway line. In the winter, you’ll be treated to picturesque views of the frozen lakes. 

The Frog Pond Trail and Long Lake Provincial Park are some other great options for a winter hike, with shorter hikes and easy to follow trails. 

6. Go Cross Country Skiing

Skiing is a great way to get out and enjoy the winter scenery. Many of the city’s popular hiking spots are also great trails for skiing.

Shubie Park, mentioned above, is also a popular spot for skiing, although the terrain is a mix of gentle slopes and flatter sections.

The Chain of Lakes Trail and BLT Trail in Halifax, as well as the Salt Marsh Trail in Dartmouth, are also excellent trails for cross-country skiing. These former railway tracks are flat and extend for kilometres past beautiful scenery, through forested areas, past lakes and across Cole Harbour’s Salt Marsh.  

Cross-country skiing not only allows you to explore Halifax’s parks and trails, but also offers a fantastic full-body workout and is a great way to exercise in the winter months. 

7. Try Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is another fantastic winter activity to enjoy in Halifax. It’s a great form of exercise and a fun outdoor experience that’s perfect for all ages. 

With plenty of parks and trails, Halifax offers numerous opportunities for snowshoeing adventures. The same trails that are popular for hiking and cross-country skiing, such as Shubie Park, Long Lake Provincial Park and Point Pleasant Park, become perfect places to go snowshoeing when covered in snow. 

two people snowshoeing through the snow

There are several places in the city where you can easily rent snowshoes. Decathlon, located in Mic Mac Mall, rents snowshoes (and other winter equipment), and many city recreation centres also have snowshoes available to rent. Halifax Recreation Centres can be found here

8. Explore Point Pleasant Park

Located at the southern tip of the Halifax Peninsula, Point Pleasant Park is a great place to get outdoors in the winter! This sprawling 185-acre park boasts fantastic views of Halifax Harbour and a network of trails to explore. 

There are 39 kilometres of trails throughout the park, circling around the tip of the peninsula and crisscrossing through the interior of the park. Some of the trails are flat, especially around the perimeter of the park, but others have a steeper incline, providing a challenge to your winter walk.

The paths along the water’s edge are the most scenic, but they can also be chilly and on windy days you might want to stick to the paths that crisscross throughout the park and are a little warmer.  

For those interested in history, the park is also home to several historic military fortifications, dating back to the 18th century. It’s also home to the Prince of Wales Tower, which is a National Historic Site and the oldest Martello tower in North America. 

Fun Fact: Halifax rents the park from the British Government for 1 shilling (approximately 10 cents) a year, with a 999-year lease.

9. Take the Ferry to Dartmouth

The Halifax Ferry is the oldest saltwater ferry in North America and the second oldest in the world. It runs year-round and is a great way to get out and see the Halifax waterfront from a different viewpoint!

ferry crossing the halifax harbour

Bundle up and grab some change (fare is $2.75 but your ticket is valid for a return trip within a few hours) and head across the harbour to Dartmouth.

Alderney Landing has a Saturday market, which is right in the ferry terminal. Or take a stroll through Downtown Dartmouth and experience some great places to eat and drink or admire the public art throughout the downtown area.

We may be a bit biased, as we now call Dartmouth home, but there are some fantastic things to do in Dartmouth!

10. Go Surfing at Lawrencetown Beach

While you may not think of surfing when you think of winter activities, in Nova Scotia, it’s a big thing. In fact, Nova Scotia is one of the top cold-weather surfing destinations. 

Lawrencetown Beach, about a 30-minute drive from Halifax, and nearby Martinique Beach, are two of the best beaches in the area for surfing, winter or summer. They’re both popular spots for surf enthusiasts year-round, including the chilly winter months. 

Winter often brings stronger swells and bigger waves, providing some of the best waves for experienced surfers. And although you’ll find icy conditions getting to and from the water, with proper equipment and gear, it’s definitely possible. 

surfers riding the waves at Lawrencetown beach near Halifax in the winter

Wetsuits and other cold-weather surfing gear are available to rent at the Lawrencetown Surf Co. (lessons are not available during the winter months, but the store is open year-round). 

And if you’re not up for getting wet in the winter, it’s still an unforgettable experience to see. Head out to Lawrencetown Beach and watch the surfers ride the waves against the backdrop of the snow-covered shore.  

11. Chase Frozen Waterfalls

Chasing waterfalls is an often overlooked adventure, but it’s such a fun experience in Halifax in the winter months.

Growing up in Hamilton, which is known as the City of Waterfalls, we explored the waterfalls year-round but I find them even more stunning in the winter, when the water freezes and looks magical. 

Luckily, there are several waterfalls near Halifax that you can also explore year-round. Johnson River Falls is one of our favourites, where you’ll be rewarded with a partially frozen waterfall at the end of a 30-minute hike. Another favourite is Webber Falls, which has a shorter trail to the waterfall, but it can be slippery in spots. 

Johnson River Falls

Indoor Things to Do in Halifax in the Winter

Warm up indoors and spend some time exploring the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

As the largest art museum in Atlantic Canada, the Gallery boasts an extensive collection that showcases a range of local and international art, including historical and contemporary works.

It’s particularly well-known for its folk art collection, with the highlight being the tiny and vibrantly painted house of Maud Lewis, one of Nova Scotia’s most beloved folk artists.

The Art Gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am – 5 pm, and extended hours on Thursdays, with free admission from 5 – 9 pm. Rates and hours can be found here.

13. Visit the Public Library

Another great spot to spend those chilly winter days is the Halifax Public Library.

Even for those who aren’t book lovers, the architecture of the building is stunning – in fact, the building has won a few awards for its architecture. 

In addition to the striking shape of the building – it’s intended to look like a stack of books – the interior is also quite unique. With staircases that crisscross an open area in the centre, unique shelves and large windows, it’s one of the most unusual buildings I’ve seen. 

There are two cafes inside, one on the bottom level and one on the fifth floor, which offers excellent views of the city. 

Grab a book, and maybe a coffee, find a cozy spot and stay warm indoors.

14. Shop at the Halifax Seaport Market

Halifax is home to the oldest continuously operating farmer’s market in North America. Over the years it has evolved and relocated, now finding its home on the waterfront near Pier 23. 

Stop by the Halifax Seaport Market on Saturdays or Sundays, grab a freshly baked pastry and locally roasted coffee, and browse the local vendors. There’s everything from locally-made art and handcrafted gifts to delicious baked goods and tempting snacks. 

Whether you’re looking for a souvenir from Nova Scotia, or just out for a leisurely stroll while staying warm, the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market is a great place to visit on a weekend. 

The Halifax Seaport Farmers Market is open Saturdays 8 am to 2 pm, and Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm.

15. Visit the Natural History Museum

Another perfect spot to warm up on a cold winter day, the Museum of Natural History is perfect for visitors of all ages. 

Gus, the museum’s resident turtle, is a must-see for kids and adults alike. Gus celebrated his 100th birthday in 2022 and is the oldest known Gopher Tortoise.

a boy looking at a turtle that is sitting on sand under a sun light. Gus is the oldest known gopher turtle and lives at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax

Stop by and see this impressive creature and then browse through the museum’s exhibits.

In addition to its permanent exhibitions, the museum also regularly hosts temporary exhibitions, ensuring there is always something new to discover.

There’s quite a range of exhibits: we saw the incredible Body Worlds exhibit in 2023 and Dinosaur Exploration is on from February – June 2024. 

16. See a Mooseheads or Thunderbirds Game

For sports fans, catching a game is one of the best things to do in Halifax in the winter. Whether you’re a hockey fan or a lacrosse enthusiast, Scotiabank Centre has a game for you. 

The Halifax Mooseheads, the city’s junior ice hockey team, play at the Scotiabank season throughout the winter season and attending a Mooseheads game is a perfect way to experience Canadian hockey culture. It’s a fun and lively way to spend an evening, especially for families and groups of friends. 

If lacrosse is more your speed, the Halifax Thunderbirds offer an equally fun and exciting experience. Part of the National Lacrosse League, the Halifax Thunderbirds also play at the Scotiabank Centre throughout the winter. Games are fast and dynamic, and even if you don’t know much about lacrosse, it’s still a fun game to watch! We’ve been to a few games, and they’re always so much fun to attend. 

Hockey is Canada’s national winter sport, and lacrosse is Canada’s national summer sport, so catching either of these teams’ games is a perfect way to experience Canadian sports.

Winter Events in Halifax

17. Dartmouth Ice Festival

One of our favourite winter events in Halifax is the Dartmouth Ice Festival.

Held every year on the last weekend in January, downtown Dartmouth turns into a wonderland of ice sculptures and fun winter-themed activities.

Sculptures are created throughout the weekend and are displayed in several spots throughout the downtown area. You can watch artists creating these intricate designs, or view the completed sculptures – some are pretty detailed! 

The festival also features live music and interactive activities, such as learning to juggle and trying your hand at a mini curling rink, making it fun for everyone in the family. It’s a perfect way to embrace the chilly weather and enjoy a unique and festive experience.

Dates: January 26 – January 28, 2024 
Cost: Free

18. Dine Around Halifax

One of the most delicious Halifax winter events, Dine Around is an annual event that runs throughout the month of February.

Participating local restaurants offer special fixed menus that are priced at $10, $20, $30, $40, $50 and $60. You’ll find different kinds of restaurants, from cozy diners and casual lunches to upscale dining and it’s a great way to sample new foods or try new restaurants. 

Choose to dine in or order take out to go – however you choose to experience Halifax’s food festival, your taste buds will thank you! 

Find participating restaurants and menus here.

19. Experience the Icewine Festival

While technically not in Halifax, this winter festival is only an hour away and is such a great event that we had to include it. And no, it’s not for kids, but parents need to have some fun activities too! 

An annual event, the Nova Scotia Icewine Festival celebrates the local wine and Icewine that’s produced in the province.  Held at Luckett Vineyards, one of the top wineries in Nova Scotia, this weekend event is a great way to sample different styles of red, white and sparkling wine, and of course, different Ice wines.

Over 10 wineries are participating, so you can sample some of the best wines that Nova Scotia has to offer. 

Dates: Friday February 9 to Sunday February 11, 2024
Cost: Tickets can be purchased here

20. Indulge at Lobsterfest

Taking place for the entire month of February, which is peak lobster season along the south shore, Lobster Crawl hosts all kinds of lobster-themed celebrations. 

From Lucy the Lobster crawling out of the ocean on February 2nd to see if she sees her shadow and kid-friendly activities like the Great Lobster Hunt or the Lobster Creation Contest to the popular Lobster Roll Competition, there are plenty of lobster experiences to enjoy throughout the region.

And of course, there’s plenty of lobster to sample and savour everywhere along the South Shore. 

21. Take a Drive to Peggy’s Cove

One of the most photographed spots in Nova Scotia, Peggy’s Cove is gorgeous anytime of the year.

And in the winter months, you won’t have to fight for a parking spot or worry about the crowds of tourists that are found in the summer months. Each time we’ve visited in the winter, we’ve been one of the few people, if any at all!

peggy's cove lighthouse sits on the rocks overlooking the Atlantic Ocean

While most visitors come to see the iconic lighthouse, it’s also worth taking the time to explore the village of Peggy’s Cove.

A traditional, and still working Nova Scotian fishing village, you’ll see colourful houses and lobster boats tied up to the pier. Be sure to bundle up, and don’t forget to bring your camera!

Final Thoughts: Best Things to Do in Halifax in the Winter

While it may be chilly, there are still plenty of things to do in Halifax in the winter. From outdoor experiences like skating, skiing, snowshoeing, or even surfing, to warmer indoor activities found at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Natural History Museum and the Public Library, there’s something for everyone, and every type of weather.

And events throughout the winter months, like the Dartmouth Ice Festival and the Dine Around add a bit of fun and excitement to the long Halifax winter months.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, Halifax in the winter is a great place to explore, whether you prefer outdoor winter activities or cozier indoor experiences.

What are your favourite things to do in Halifax in the winter? Let us know in the comments below.  

pin image for this post - 21 fun things to do in halifax in the winter

For more ideas and inspiration on exploring Nova Scotia and Halifax, be sure to check out these posts:

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