Nocturne: A Guide to Halifax’s Fabulously Free Arts Night

Debt-Free Dating, Debt-Free Functions, Debt-Free University

It’s the most magical night of the year! For those of you who are new to Halifax or have never been here, for one night the whole city transforms into a series of free art installations, showcasing some of the East Coast’s best theater, film, dance, visual art and circus performance. This is Nocturne: Art at Night!

Picture this: a Ferris wheel on Citadel Hill; thousands of paper planes thrown from high-rises of Halifax, gliding through the carnival-like downtown core and momentarily eclipsing fantastic projections; a series of elaborate, larger than life instillation pieces turning your town into a magnificent sprawling playground; karaoke on a ferry… oh yeah and a whole bunch of free performances, products and insider looks at some of the city’s hottest venues.

While the instillations change every year, one thing remains consistent: Nocturne is one stellar free annual event that you won’t want to miss!


The Basics

Nocturne is taking place tonight (Saturday, October 15, 2016) from 6 pm until midnight! 

Instillation are set up around Downtown, South End and North End Halifax, as well as in Downtown Dartmouth.


Planning Ahead

Even though Nocturne is less than an hour away you still have time to plan ahead. For first timers, this is an essential measure to make sure that you make the most out of this fantastic night. This will be my sixth year of Nocturne, but believe me, I’ve spent more than one arts night going horribly off track or missing key installations because I forgot to map out a route or read up on what was happening. Luckily for you, there are several ways to get the scoop both last minute and on the go thanks to the event’s streamlined mobile and online applications.

Grab an issue of The Coast, Halifax’s award-winning independent news paper, for a hard copy Nocturne guide that list of installations and a map of the city, or read more about The Coast’s take on Nocturne online here.

Use your mobile phone to view an online breakdown of the installations and access a map of Nocturne here.

Download and print a pdf Nocturne 2016 Guide here.

Check out Nocturne on Facebook here.

If you’re really in a pinch, take a peek at CBC’s Nocturne top 5 list here!


What to Bring

It’s currently a nippy 13 degrees in Halifax and weather forecasts project a drop down to 3 degrees by tonight, so dress warm. Wear a snugly scarf, some cozy mittens, a hat and a jacket to ensure that you can have a comfortable Nocturne.

Bring a bottle of water and a thermos of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Stay hydrated!

Bring snacks! Halifax is a wonderfully walkable little city, but gazing in amazement takes time. Grab a granola bar or two to keep distracting stomach rumbles at bay while you spend a few hours wandering around in awe.

Consider bringing some cash. Some installations may have keepsakes which are usually procured on a pay what you can (PWYC) basis. If you’re wandering around the city for a while you may also want to take advantage of the food and drink pop-ups that take place on this, most glorious of nights.

Getting There

To arrive on the cheap, take advantage of Halifax Metro Transit’s Free Nocturne Shuttle. Core bus stops found on Robie Street, near the commons; on the corner of South and South Park Street; and on the corner of Cogswell and Barrington Street will take you into the heart of the action.

If you’re heading into the city from out of town, avoid expensive parking tickets by taking a peek at Halifax’s Park Smart brochure here.

Finally, if you’re all about going green, walk with friends or take advantage of Nocturne by Bicycle– a free, guided bike ride through Nocturne that begins at he Museum of Natural History at 7pm.


Where Are The Washrooms??! (PLEASE!)


Many of the indoor venues of Nocturne, such as Dalhousie University and Halifax Central Library, have indoor washroom facilities.

For a list of public washrooms on the waterfront click here!

If all hope seems lost, swallow your pride and ask a Nocturne volunteer to point you towards a public washroom. (They don’t bite.)

How Much am I Saving?

It’s impossible to put a price tag on Nocturne, but if you want a little bit of a break down of how much you’re saving by taking in this festival here are a few numbers:

No admission for museums ($11 per adult for Pier 21, $6.30 for the Museum of Natural History)

No admission for Art Gallery of Nova Scotia ($12 per adult)

Free Circus Demos (at Shift Festival, Halifax Circus was about $12 per ticket: there are several acrobatic and circus events at Nocturne so this adds up quick)

Free shuttle ($2.50 for an adult bus fare)

Free instillation by the Fountain School of Performing Arts (usually $10-15 per ticket)

+ lots of other free stuff that I don’t have time to break down because I’m getting ready for Nocturne!

Seriously guys, when you consider that it’s an easy $5-$20 admission to most awesome installations and events in this city, you’re looking at a whole bunch of savings!



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