Halifax is known for its cold and snowy winters but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to do.
There are plenty of things to do in Halifax in the winter months, and it’s a great time to get outdoors and explore Nova Scotia without the crowds of tourists that you will find in the summer!
So bundle up and check out these 14 fantastic things to do in Halifax in the winter.
What’s the weather like in Halifax in the Winter?
A Halifax winter 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 it gets a fair bit of snow, being on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean means that winter temperatures are more moderate than elsewhere in Canada.
Average temperatures are subzero in the winter. January temps hover from freezing to -5. February is the coldest month, with temps dropping to -10, although some days will occasionally see temperatures as low as -20 or -30. The first half of March is still wintry, with temps similar to February however they will begin to rise as the month ends.
And while Halifax does get a fair bit of snow, because it’s a coastal town, expect some rain, even in the winter.
Be sure to bundle up, wear layers and go enjoy these fun things to do in Halifax in the winter!
Fun Things to Do in Halifax in the Winter
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.
Skate and helmet rentals are free to rent (with gov’t ID provided).
All children 12 and under must wear a helmet – you can bring your own or rent one there.
There are no lockers though so bring a tote bag to store your boots or shoes in. 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. Stroll through the Public Gardens
Right in the heart of downtown Halifax, the Public Gardens are a fantastic place to wander through year round.
The paths are well maintained and it’s a great spot to get away from the city and enjoy the quiet winter scenery.
Open 8am to 4pm daily, and evenings in November and December for the Holiday Light display.
3. 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!
Citadel Hill is considered one of the top tobogganing hills in Canada, and once you see it, you’ll understand why! For more places to go sledding in Halifax, check out this post here.
4. Walk along the Waterfront Boardwalk
The Halifax Boardwalk is the most visited attraction in Nova Scotia anytime of the year.
One of the world’s longest boardwalks, it’s a great spot to stroll along, summer or winter.
While many of the kiosks and shops are closed in the winter, there are still a few that are open. But watch your step – it may be icy!
5. Explore Point Pleasant Park
With 39km of paths and fantastic views of Halifax Harbour, Point Pleasant Park is a great place to get outdoors in the winter!
There are plenty of trails, some more difficult than others, and plenty to see throughout the park – including a tower and remnants of military forts.
There are paths along the water’s edge, or on chilly windy days, stick to the paths on the inside which are a little warmer.
6. Get Out for a Hike
There are plenty of great hiking trails in Halifax! Across the harbour in Dartmouth, Shubie Park is our personal favourite.
It’s a fantastic urban park, with kilometres of trails and a large off-leash area 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.
In Halifax, there’s also the Chain of Lakes Trail, Point Pleasant Park that we mentioned above, or for a shorter hike, try the Frog Pond.
7. Go Cross Country Skiing
Skiing is a great way to get out and enjoy the winter scenery.
There are plenty of trails in Halifax that are perfect for cross country skiing – Chain of Lakes trail, Frog Pond Trail, Point Pleasant Park and over in Darmouth, Shubie Park has plenty of trails to cross country ski on.
8. Take the Ferry
The ferry runs year round and is a great way to get out and see Halifax waterfront from a different viewpoint! It’s the oldest saltwater ferry in North America and second oldest in the world.
Bundle up and grab some change (fare is $2.75 but your ticket is valid for a return trip within an hour or so) and head over 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 of the best places to eat and drink in Dartmouth or admire the public art throughout the downtown area.
Yes, we may be a bit biased but Dartmouth is an awesome place to explore!
9. Explore the Art Gallery
Stay warm and spend some time inside at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
The largest art museum in Atlantic Canada, the Gallery displays a large collection of local art, as well as a collection of folk art including the tiny Maud Lewis House.
Open Thursday 2-9pm, Friday – Sunday 10am-5pm
10. 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 stunning (in fact, the building has won a few awards for its architecture).
The fourth floor also has some great views of the city. So grab a book, find a cozy spot and stay warm indoors.
11. 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 moved locations and is now on the waterfront near Pier 23.
Stop by the Halifax Seaport Market on Saturdays or Sundays, grab a pastry and coffee and check out local arts and crafts plus plenty of local food.
12. Experience the Icewine festival
The Icewine Festival is a great annual event, highlighting icewine and other types of wines that are made right here in Nova Scotia. It runs for two weekends in February – check the website for more details.
13. Dine Around Halifax
During the month of February, local restaurants are offering special Dine Around menus priced from $10 – $50. 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.
14. Take a Drive to Peggy’s Cove
One of the most photographed spots in NS, Peggy’s Cove is gorgeous anytime of the year.
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 Nova Scotian fishing village, you’ll see colourful houses and lobster boats tied up to the pier. Be sure to bundle up, bring your camera!
So get out and enjoy the winter in Halifax! And if you haven’t been to the East Coast in the winter yet, you should plan to!
For more ideas and inspiration on exploring Nova Scotia and Halifax, be sure to check out these posts: