5 Nova Scotia Food Festivals to Attend
Food and wine are important in our culture, bringing people together to share experiences and create memories. If you’re a foodie, then you are probably already aware that Halifax, Nova Scotia is a mecca for food and wine experiences. The province’s food & wine scene is bursting at the seams with a wide range of Nova Scotia food festivals to choose from. In this blog post, we’ll explore the biggest culinary festival of the year – the Savour Food & Wine Festival.
Get ready to indulge because the Savour Food and Wine Festival is a culinary experience like no other that spans Nova Scotia’s winter and spring with events running from February to May. This festival is a must-attend for food and beverage enthusiasts where Nova Scotia’s top mixologists, brewers, winemakers and chefs gather to showcase their talents.
About Savour Food and Wine Festival
As the largest non-profit culinary festival in Canada, the Savour Food and Wine Festival supports the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia (RANS) in its mission to champion Nova Scotia’s exquisite food and beverage industry.
What started as a single event in 2003 designed to showcase the amazing offerings and talents of Nova Scotia’s restaurants, wineries, breweries and mixologists has grown into a culinary festival featuring 5 signature events.
February 1 – 28th
Dine Around is a month-long foodie event that showcases the best of Nova Scotia’s restaurants, pubs and bars. Diners can sample specially curated prix fixe menus at set price points that suit their budgets, with options ranging from $10 to $50.
You’ll find multi-course tasting menus, lunch options, cocktail and wine pairings and even breakfast and brunch menus, providing even more options for diners to indulge in some fabulous food. With such a diverse range of menu options, there’s something for everyone during Dine Around.
Personally, we see Dine Around as a way to support our local restaurants during a notoriously slow month and as an opportunity to explore new spots or try new cuisines. With many restaurants offering revised menu items specifically for the program, there’s no better time to treat your taste buds to a culinary adventure.
Craft Beer Cottage Party
March 4th, 2023
When it comes to Nova Scotia food festivals, it wouldn’t be a complete list without a craft beer event. Transport yourself back at the Craft Beer Cottage Party for an unforgettable night of craft beer, games and live entertainment at the Halifax Seaport Pavilion 22.
With more than 25 local and nearby craft breweries in attendance, you’ll have the opportunity to sample a wide range of delicious beers. If you’re not from Nova Scotia, brace yourself, because we’ve got a craft beer scene to rival the best in the world. While you’re sipping your brews, lounge in Adirondack chairs and enjoy the live music or challenge your pals to a game of washer toss.
Snack on beer-friendly food (available for purchase), dance the night away, and let your inner flannel-loving self come out to play.
Admission includes a beer glass to keep and 16 x 3oz samples of beer from various craft breweries and cideries around Atlantic Canada. Additional tickets are available for purchase.
Savour Food and Wine Show
April 6th 2023
The Savour Food and Wine Show is the original event that started it all. This ultimate food and wine experience brings together over 70 of Nova Scotia’s top restaurants, wineries, and beverage makers for an unforgettable evening.
Explore and indulge your way through delectable cuisine, legendary cocktails, and fine wines presented by Nova Scotia’s top Chefs and beverage experts. This show is an exquisite opportunity to discover new and innovative dishes, wines, and beverages from some of the best culinary talents in Nova Scotia and it’s a culinary experience not to be missed!
April 19th, 2023
The cocktail event of the year – this is a true cocktail lover’s dream!
Can I be honest? We follow our favourite mixologists around the city (I’m looking at your Lindsay) because the craftsmanship within the craft cocktail scene in Halifax is out of this world. It’s more like art, than mixology.
Imbibe brings together the best of the best, under one roof, for one night only to create an unforgettable evening filled with perfectly crafted, sample-sized cocktails made to order. With more than 20 top restaurants, bars and the NSLC showcasing their best cocktail creations, you’re in for a treat. The incredible range of flavor profiles, unique creations, and even some flare bartending creates an experience you won’t soon forget.
Beyond that, the snacks are always on point and the lively atmosphere features a DJ to keep the party going. Whether you’re a seasoned cocktail aficionado or just looking to try something new and exciting, Imbibe is the perfect event.
Rare and Fine Wine
May 5th, 2023
If exclusivity is your thing, indulge in a sophisticated evening of exquisite wines at Rare and Fine, an event crafted for true wine connoisseurs. Enjoy a selection of exclusive wines, each rated 90 points or higher by major wine publications worldwide. These remarkable wines are rarely available in our market, making this a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of fine wines.
Premium and regular tickets are available, with the former gaining early access to the event and a complimentary wine glass to keep. The Rare and Fine Wines event is a night of unparalleled wine-tasting and ambiance not to be missed.
How to Make the Most of Food and Wine Events
Attending culinary events can be an exciting experience for foodies and industry professionals alike. These events offer a chance to sample delicious foods, wines, craft beers and cocktails plus meet the talents behind the products (our personal favourite part) and create a memorable experience. However, to make the most of these events, there are some tips and tricks of the trade that’ll up the overall experience. Call it an event strategy, if you will.
Eat & Hydrate Before You Go
I learned this trick from a professional food critic when I sat on a judging panel. It might sound counter-intuitive but eating normally throughout the day makes a big difference. “Saving up” for an event like this creates a phenomenon you may have experienced.
Have you ever sat down to a restaurant meal, STARVING, only to find that after a few bites, you’re full? The last thing you want at a culinary event is to feel uncomfortably full so hydrate well (especially if you’ll be drinking) and eat a meal before you go.
One of the keys to making the most of the food and wine event is to plan ahead. After dozens (maybe hundreds) of events, we’ve learned a thing or two about culinary events. When you arrive, there’s a “flow” of traffic and following that flow doesn’t necessarily result in the best experience.
Unless the event has expressed a need for attendees to visit vendors in a certain order, make your own plan. Review the event schedule and map out which vendors you want to visit. This way, you can prioritize which foods and drinks to sample, and avoid wasting time wandering aimlessly or waiting in lines.
When sampling food and drinks, it’s important to pace yourself. You’ve arrived, you’re excited, and it’s easy to go in guns blazing but sampling too much too soon is a sure fire way to ruin your night.
I’ve never heard anyone, at any of these events, say “I wish there had been more food or drinks”. There are lots of vendors and lots of bites or sips to sample. Take your time, sample small (it’s OK not to finish what’s in your cup), and enjoy the event.
If you’re planning to return next year, it’s also worth taking notes on which vendors were your favourite (see the next tip).
It might not be sexy to pull out a notepad but everyone’s got their phone out at these events. Use a digital note taking system to track what you love, and what you don’t love, and make notes for future reference. And no one will even notice because it’ll just look like you’re sending a text, like everyone else.
Apps I use at culinary events:
- Vivino App – https://www.vivino.com/app | Lets you track and review the wines you sample and build a custom taste profile for you.
- Evernote App – https://evernote.com/ | Note taking on steroids. Lets you take notes, pictures, and record audio (if you prefer that).
My personal note-taking process:
Personally, I attend a lot of events and am immersed in the culinary and hospitality scene on a weekly basis. I’ve learned that my memory isn’t the best place to store information so I take (probably more meticulously than the average person) notes during these experiences. They include:
- What each vendor served. You think you’ll remember, but you won’t.
- Name of the Chef, mixologist or bartender. As mentioned, I follow my favourites around the province!
- Restaurants I want to try. If I sample something exquisite from a restaurant we haven’t tried yet, I put it on a running list of restaurants to try.
- Wine notes in Vivino
- Unique flavour profiles of cocktails, bites, beer, etc. I’ll sometimes even try and recreate them at home.
- Any reactions I have. I have an annoying, mild allergy to certain types of hops so I note any beers that cause that so that I can avoid them later.
- Hospitality notes. Personally, friendliness and service is crucial to a good experience so I note those vendors that were easy to talk to and seemed genuinely interested in creating a great atmosphere.
Have Meaningful Conversations
Nova Scotia food festivals and events are a great opportunity to get to know the people behind the food and beverages you love. Beyond that, these events are full of people who share your love of food and drinks which means you’ve all got something in common. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation, ask questions, and make connections with vendors or other attendees.
Book a Stay
Enhance your experience by booking a hotel or accommodation for the night of the event. Halifax is full of great accommodation options from hotels to inns and Airbnbs and there are several benefits to booking a stay during an event. Firstly, it eliminates the worry of having to designate a driver, find a taxi or worry about travelling home.
Additionally, it allows for a more leisurely and enjoyable experience being able to stroll out of the event and directly to your room. All of these events have hotels and accommodations either on-site or within a 5-minute walk. A hotel stay can also provide the opportunity to extend your experience beyond the event itself, explore the local area, enjoy a leisurely breakfast and take advantage of turn-key amenities.
Obviously, making the most of Nova Scotia food festivals also means drinking responsibly to keep the evening enjoyable for you and everyone else. This means being aware of your limits, pacing yourself, and staying hydrated throughout the event. It also means designating a driver or sorting out alternative transportation to get home (if you’re not staying on-site). By being responsible, you can fully enjoy the experience while ensuring the safety of you and those around you.
But you already know that! I just had to say it so that I’m “blogging responsibly”.