The ultimate list of Nova Scotian-filmed holiday movies—and how to watch them | Arts + Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

The ultimate list of Nova Scotian-filmed holiday movies—and how to watch them

During the rom-com’s rule of the 2000s, our province played home base to tons of Hallmark and Lifetime movies. Here, we recap them all.

If you’ve ever wandered around downtown on a snow-dusted eve and thought it was the ultimate scene for your seasonal meet-cute, you’re not alone: The Hallmark Channel itself often sets up shop in Nova Scotia, finding our windswept shores, charming towns and historically-shaped capital city the perfect locale for, say, a high-powered business woman to meet a local tradesperson and find the true meaning of the holiday.

In fact, representatives from Screen Nova Scotia tell The Coast that the industry association has yearly meetings with both Hallmark and Lifetime, the veritable Coke and Pepsi of cheesy Christmas-flick-powered channels. But when it comes to the golden age of Halifax-shot holiday films, it’s really all about the early 2000s (which tracks, since that’s also the era when rom-coms at large—of which these films are a seasonal sub-category—were enjoying greater cultural cachet). From the type A bride scuttling cross-country for her Dec. 25 wedding to a single mother making the most of things, there was no better place for a heroine to flick her skinny scarf, snap shut her flip-phone and fall in love than on film sets in Chester, Mahone Bay or Halifax proper. Many of these made-for-TV movies would have been lost to time without dedicated Christmas lovers on YouTube—and all of them feel like the generic store brand of the curated coziness that has made Gen Z rediscover Nancy Myers’ genre classic The Holiday.

Take a shot of egg nog any time you recognize a landmark or streetscape in the following Y2K-era, locally shot holiday treasures, which are bound to send you into the film equivalent of a sugar coma—but isn’t that just what this time of year calls for?

Christmas With Holly

This 2012 flick—available to rent on Apple TV+—follows the unlikely love that blossoms between a toy store owner and a man caring for his orphaned niece across sets in Halifax, Chester and Windsor. Sean Faris provides the man candy; Eloise Mumford provides enough hair inspo for you to dig out your curling iron in an attempt to imitate her Goldilocks curls.

The Christmas Shoes

Several plot lines tangle about like spaghetti in this 2002 Halifax-filmed offering: Rob Lowe stars as a workaholic lawyer on the precipice of losing Everything That Matters (read: His wife and family) while a neighbour and her family cope with her terminal diagnosis. Her young son wants only to buy her a pair of shoes for Christmas, and these ankle-strapped symbols act as a major plot vehicle. Then there’s the local Christmas choir, which is down a director while the ill neighbour continues her decline.

Based on a book by Donna VanLiere and responsible for two even more unwieldy sequels (which were not shot in Nova Scotia), this is a treat for any Loweheads in your life. Rent it with an AMC+ subscription on Prime Video.

A Town Without Christmas

This 2001 flick opens with a boy who’s missing—leaving behind only a note to Santa wishing he didn’t exist, so as to save his divorcing parents heartache. Seeing the letter as the blazing red flag it is, the townspeople rally to make sure the child isn’t about to harm himself. Among the search-and-rescue crew? A jaded big-city reporter and, I shit you not, an angel-in-disguise played by Peter Falk. This one seems lost to time (though those with an actual TV and access to the Hallmark Channel might have some luck) but you can capture the vibes—and see Patricia Heaton rock some of-the-era chunky highlights—in the above preview of the flick.

Finding John Christmas

A loose sequel to A Town Without Christmas, this 2003 offering sees Falk reprise his role of angel among us, while Valerie Bertinelli portrays a woman sure that the photo she sees in a daily newspaper is a snap of her long-missing brother. Some dedicated fan of the holidays, Falk, or Bertinelli in a shag haircut has done the work of preserving this film from obscurity by posting it, in its entirety, to YouTube.

A Christmas Wedding

A decade before she’d take home an Emmy for her starring turn in American Crime Story: Impeachment, Sarah Paulson starred in this 2006 Lifetime movie that saw her embarking on a wild cross-country odyssey to get home in time to marry the bland-blonde hunk Ben (Eric Mabius, sporting a truly tragic bleach job) on Christmas Day. Another number that could’ve faded into the obscurity of time, the only online remainder of this flick is available as a two-part video from a dedicated YouTube archivist.

Candles on Bay Street

OK, OK, so it’s not technically a holiday movie, but this 2006 Chester-shot film stars Alicia Silverstone in full Other Woman mode, so we gotta give it a spot on the list. A stale small town in Maine is shook up at the return of Silverstone’s Dee-Dee—and so is her childhood neighbour’s marriage, as his former obsession with her roars back to life. The whole concept of old flames and the titular candles do a lot of lifting to feel close to symbolic storytelling, if not actually an example of it. Rent it on Apple TV+.

November Christmas

Nova Scotia cosplays as Rhode Island in this 2010 offering, in which a town comes together to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled into one at the behest of a terminally ill eight-year-old. Man candy is provided by John Corbett (AKA Sex and The City’s Aidan Shaw) while—spoiler alert—peak seasonal vibes are captured as a surprise snowfall occurs in the film’s closing scene. Unavailable on any official streaming services in Canada, you can watch this one via one superfan’s YouTube upload.

About The Author

Morgan Mullin

Morgan is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Coast, where she writes about everything from what to see and do around Halifax to profiles of the city’s creative class to larger cultural pieces. She’s been with The Coast since 2016.

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