Halifax on a Budget: Arts & Culture

Halifax City Specialist Tara McClair shows you the best places to experience arts and culture in Halifax on a budget


Halifax is a university town full of frugal students and, as an alumnus of University of Kings College, I know how to stretch a dollar. One of the best things about the city is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time. Here’s a list of activities to experience Halifax’s rich culture and history on your next trip to the city.

Explore Halifax’s Art Galleries

Anna Leonowens Gallery (Photo by Tara McClair)Halifax is home to many art galleries, thanks to the strong presence of art and design students from the many local universities.

The Anna Leonowens Gallery is named after the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design founder. The public gallery has no admission and exhibits weekly student work, with periodic showings of visiting artists, curators, faculty members, and graduate thesis projects.

See some art work you like? Seeds Gallery is a year-round shop for student and alumni artwork. 

Of course, there’s always the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the largest art gallery in Atlantic Canada.

Opened in 1908, the galleries mission is to “bring the art of Nova Scotia to the world and the art of the world to Nova Scotia.” With over 13,000 pieces and collection, this gallery does just that.

The gallery hosts many local, national, and international exhibits each year. New to the gallery is the museum’s new permanent collection of local folk art, Show of Hands, which celebrates the creations of artists who lives were, and still are, inextricably bound by the land and sea.

Visit Province House

Province House (Photo by Tara McClair)
Halifax’s Province House has the distinction of being the oldest seat of government in all of Canada.

Explore the historic building on your own or take a free guided tour, which includes stops at the “Red Chamber”, the legislative library that was once the Supreme Court of Canada, and the parliament chamber, where two headless hawk statues reside—they were beheaded in 1840 because they looked too much like American bald eagles. Nova Scotia politicians take their patriotism seriously.

Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame

Nova Scotia produces some amazing athletes (hello, Sidney Crosby) and this centre honours athletes, teams, builders, and coaches who have contributed to Nova Scotia’s sport heritage and culture.

Located at the World Trade and Convention Centre, the “comprehensive interactive museum” features a variety of audio-visual presentations and informational displays.

You can even participate in a game of basketball or hockey. Admission is free and the hall is open Monday to Friday, 11:00am to 5:00 pm.

Catch a movie at the Oxford

The Oxford Theatre is a quintessential “old world” movie theatre, with a single screen, balcony seating, and old fashioned décor.

Movie prices are the same as at the multiplex, but the atmosphere and ambiance at the Oxford is worth the admission charge alone.

The best part? The Oxford usually plays art-house flicks, documentaries, film festival movies that aren’t featured in mainstream theatres.

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