August is here—and along with it, a jam-packed lineup of annual favourites has returned, joined by what promise to be new summer mainstays. From the annual Natal Day fireworks celebrations to boardwalk buskers to barbecues to a new all-Black music festival, there’s plenty going on in the HRM this weekend. Allow us to be your long weekend guide with these Coast picks:
1. Check out the Halifax Busker Festival. Fancy seeing street magic? How about death-defying stunts? The 37th Buskerfest kicked off on the Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts on Wednesday, bringing street performers from all around the world to stages at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Sackville Landing, Foundation Wharf, Halifax Seaport and Alderney Landing.
Among this year’s acts are Her Majesty’s Secret Circus, a comedic improv duo Mike Myers called a “class act” on NBC’s The Gong Show, and longtime performer Famos Bramwells, whose blend of minimalist comedy has graced venues from the Glastonbury Festival to Hong Kong. Performances run until Monday, Aug. 7. Admission is free (bring cash tips for performers), and if you want to take in the amusement rides at Alderney Landing, you can buy single tickets on-site for $1.50, 25 tickets for $30 and 50 tickets for $50.
2. Enjoy the Emancipation Day Summer BBQ in Cherry Brook. Head to the Henry Bauld Centre (35 Wilfred Jackson Way) on Saturday, Aug. 5 for games, prizes and barbecued food in celebration of Emancipation Day—a day to commemorate the abolition of slavery across the British empire. The free, all-ages event is hosted by TD in partnership with the Akoma Family Centre, United For Literacy and the BLM In This Together Group. The barbecue runs from noon until 2pm.
3. See Canadian hip-hop trailblazer Michie Mee at Crescendo Fest. Rapper and actor Michie Mee—considered one of the genre’s pioneers in Canada after rising to fame in Toronto’s hip hop scene in the 1980s and 1990s—is set to headline a new festival celebrating Black music in Nova Scotia. Crescendo Fest is a two-day event “designed to turn up the volume on Black music artists.”
On Friday, Aug. 4, attendees can network and take part in music entrepreneurship workshops at the Lighthouse Arts Centre, and on Saturday, Aug. 5, the festival will take over the Grand Parade opposite City Hall for a free evening concert. Along with Michie Mee and Nigerian-Canadian phenom Nonso Amadi, homegrown talents Reeny Smith and Maggie Andrew are set to perform.
4. Take in the fireworks on the Halifax waterfront and at Lake Banook. Remember how July’s rain and storms led to the HRM cancelling its Canada Day fireworks? Well, all those unused pyrotechnics mean this year’s Natal Day celebrations will be even bigger than usual. The first round of Natal Day fireworks will take place in Halifax Harbour on Saturday, Aug. 5 at 10pm—you’ll be able to see them from both Halifax and Dartmouth. Catch the second round of fireworks at Lake Banook on Monday, Aug. 7 at 9:30pm. (Heads up: Prince Albert Road will be closed to traffic from 8:30pm until 10:30pm for the celebrations.)
5. Head on over to Lunenburg for the Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival. Self-described as the “best four hours of fun in the province,” the 33rd annual Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival runs this Sunday, Aug. 6 and will bring together over 40 artists from across the Maritimes. Explore 1,500 works of art, ranging from wood carvings to board paintings at the Lunenburg War Memorial Arena (19 Green Street). The event promises door prizes and raises funds for the Lunenburg Heritage Society. And while you’re there, why not make a day of it and browse for books in one of the highest-density streets for bookstores in the Maritimes?
6. Watch the Halifax Wanderers go for their sixth straight home win at Wanderers Grounds. The Halifax Wanderers have been on a tear lately. The pro soccer club—currently fourth in the Canadian Premier League—is riding high off a 2-0 road win over Toronto’s York United, and the team hasn’t conceded a goal since July 15. That’s due, in part, to the return of 2021 CPL Player of the Year João Morelli, who, last weekend, scored his first Wanderers goal since returning from a devastating ACL injury that sidelined him for most of 2022 and half of 2023.
On Monday, Aug. 7, the Wanderers will host league-leading Pacific FC (of Langford, BC) with a potential chance to climb up to third place in the CPL, with 10 games remaining. A win would make franchise history as the Wanderers’ first three-game win streak in the club’s five seasons. It would also extend a franchise record home win streak to six games. Kickoff is at 3pm. Tickets are available here.
7. Check out the ANSMA Freedom Festival at Alderney Landing. This year, the African Nova Scotian Music Association’s showrunners have put together both a gospel and hip hop lineup of performers for the 17th annual Freedom Festival. North Preston gospel singer Adina Fraser, Jamaican Canadian reggae singer Zoe Tolliver and Cherry Brook’s Revello Smith are headlining the former, which runs from 2 to 5pm at Alderney Landing. R&B mainstay JRDN, long-running Halifax hip hop ensemble Universal Soul and DJ Bucky Blanks are starring in the latter, which runs from 6:30 to 9:45pm. Admission is free.
8. Enjoy a night of comedy at Yuk Yuk’s Halifax. Guess who’s back in town? Comedian Peter White started his standup career in Halifax before garnering laughs all over the world. He’s written for This Hour Has 22 Minutes, appeared in a TV miniseries with Pierce Brosnan and recorded his own hour-long special for the Comedy Network. On Friday, Aug. 4 and Saturday, Aug. 5, he returns to the stage at Yuk Yuk’s Halifax (1665 Argyle Street) for two nights of stand-up comedy. Shows start at 8pm both nights. Get tickets here.