Embracing traditions while discovering the future in Halifax
Halifax is a place where the old and the new blend seamlessly. Located on the eastern edge of North America, this compact seaside city is known for its rich Maritime history, authentic hospitality and long-standing traditions. At the same time, it’s at the cutting edge of sectors spanning from natural resources to technology. During a familiarization trip in April of 2023, Destination Canada’s Business Events team saw exactly that, and much more.
Here are four things we learned.
1. Its visionary minds are building the future
In Halifax, industry sector expertise runs deep — especially when it comes to ocean sciences. Considering that the city is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and home to one of the world’s deepest harbours, that’s not too surprising. What truly left a lasting impression on our team, though, was the ingenuity of its thought leaders and the passion they exuded as they shared their advances.
Delegates of ocean conferences will be captivated as they tour cutting-edge spaces like the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE), which helps researchers and businesses transform powerful ideas into groundbreaking commercial solutions. They can get an up-close look at the various large-scale tanks at the Aquatron Laboratory at Dalhousie University, considered one of the world’s best aquatic research facilities. And they can hear directly from some of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography’s 600+ ocean scientists, engineers and technicians on their latest research — such as the acoustic monitoring of whales.
2. A collaborative spirit translates into exceptional events
Another aspect that truly stood out was the strong collaboration within and across economic sectors. In Halifax, the entire ecosystem — from academia to researchers and entrepreneurs — works together to drive each other’s efforts and create a better future.
As we learned, this close-knit and collaborative environment also has powerful advantages for business events. When organizations choose to meet in Halifax, they won’t be hard-pressed to find acclaimed leaders who are eager to give their delegates a front row seat to the latest advances, whether that’s through speaking opportunities and lab tours.
3. Authentic experiences forge stronger connections among teams
Halifax is home to one-of-a-kind incentive activities that embrace the region’s unique history, traditions and cultures. Take Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery, for example — the oldest brewery in Canada. During an immersive tour of the storied building, local actors in period costumes give teams a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process and a deeper understanding of the legacy of Alexander Keith, the founder of the brewery and a three-time mayor of Halifax. With the city’s reputation for having some of the freshest seafood, it’s only fitting to pair that with an authentic lobster feast, accompanied by a selection of small batch brews and a live performance from talented local musicians.
Organizations searching for authentic Canadian experiences should look no further than the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, a fortress set atop the city’s highest point that once protected it from attack. After learning about the social and miliary history of Halifax, teams can enjoy an intimate dinner in a converted magazine long used for the storage of gunpowder, followed by a ghost tour that takes them through dimly lit passages and restricted areas as they listen to unexplained tales of the historic site.
Teams can also visit iconic sites, including Peggy’s Cove, a colourful fishing village that’s home to one of the world’s most historic lighthouses. While strolling around the breathtaking site, they’ll instantly feel at ease as they admire its rugged shoreline, granite boulders and inhale the salty ocean air. They can also see the lighthouse from different viewpoints on a scenic boat tour or enjoy a picnic featuring local East Coast cuisine in one of the most picturesque places on the planet.
4. It boasts inspiring, state-of-the-art conference infrastructure
Along with memorable activities and captivating tours, Halifax has a diverse range of venues available to organizations hosting their events in the city. At the Halifax Convention Centre, attendees not only have spectacular views of the city and ocean — they can also support local communities, thanks to the team’s commitment to partnering with over 70 local suppliers through its culinary program. For those seeking luxurious accommodation, there’s the recently opened Muir, an Autograph Collection Hotel overlooking the waterfront that’s inspired by the natural beauty of the province.
“From incentive experiences steeped in tradition to high-tech innovations in ocean sciences and beyond, Halifax is a top destination for globally renowned business events,” says Chantal Sturk-Nadeau, Executive Director, Business Events, Destination Canada. “Whether it was witnessing the passion of those driving the ocean sector forward or creating new memories through one-of-a-kind activities, our time in Halifax was unforgettable. A huge thank you to the team at Discover Halifax and all partners for taking the time to showcase what the city has to offer.”
A special thank you to Jeff Nearing, Paul Bailey, Jeff Turner, Amy Myatt and Morgan MacKinnon with Discover Halifax, as well as Eugénie Jason and her team with the Muir Hotel for hosting our team throughout the week.