Category Archives: Music & Entertainment

Music and Entertainment


BEHIND THE SCENES at the Tattoo!

This is my second year with the Tattoo, and I have to admit that it’s been an absolute treat to work on this world-class show for its 35th anniversary production. We’ve been in the Halifax Metro Centre for just over two weeks now and on the eve of our first show, I’m delighted that I get to give you behind the scenes access for what to expect when you come to the show.

This year to help us celebrate, we have the best drumming display team in the world; numerous gymnasts from Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark; a celebrated bicycle team from the Netherlands; brass bands from the United Kingdom; not to mention the many talented bands, soloists, choirs, pipes and drums, and dancers from across North America.

This is going to be an amazing show, so here’s what you need to know about this year’s Tattoo:

If you’ve been watching the news, you’ve probably seen Top Secret Drum Corps on the cover of Metro Halifax or featured on CTV and CBC News. This drumming display team from Basel, Switzerland, is considered to be the best in the world, and the fiery, fast-paced routine they’ve prepared showcases their precision and speed, and is guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat.

The Flying Grandpas of the Hamburg Police Force are back to help us celebrate our 35th anniversary. They’re a crowd favourite and by far the most requested act when we ask the audience who they’d like to see again. This year marks their 50th anniversary as a group, and the 25th anniversary of their partnership with the Tattoo.

Starbugs is a comedic trio, also from Switzerland, who has already taken Europe by storm but are here in Halifax for the first time. They’ve created what they call “rhythmic comedy” and it’s a blend of gymnastics, dance, and non-verbal comedy. From what I’ve seen in rehearsals, I think they’re going to be great.

One of my favourite performing groups from last year is back this year, the Nova Scotia Irish Dancers. The brilliant choreography, the cute costumes and the catchy music equals a great scene.

Showproject is another talented gymnastics group set to take the stage this week. What makes them exciting is that a few of their members have competed in the Olympics – in Beijing, London, and some are in training for Rio 2016! I think you’ll like the humorous Crash Test Dummies routine.

When I watch Talentholdet gymnasts rehearse their intricate skipping routine, all I can think of is how I’d be tangled in a knot on the floor if I ever attempted what they’re doing. These talented Danish gymnasts range in age from 10-22 years old and the complexity of their two routines will amaze you.

Another local act, new this year, is the North Nova Education Centre Jazz Choir. They’re performing two jazzy numbers in the show: “Over the Rainbow” and “Sing, Sing, Sing” – two songs that have been in my head for a while now.

The Juliana Bicycle Team from the Netherlands is performing two daring routines featuring bikes of all sizes. I can’t help but be amazed at the training and the skill that goes into perfecting a routine like that. I think you’ll like what the Julianas have in store for you.

Every year the Tattoo commemorates a significant historical anniversary, usually a military anniversary, and this year we’re commemorating the Centennial of World War I. The various scenes dedicated to WWI will feature the choirs, bands, soloists, pipes, and drums, and extras wearing historically accurate costumes. The scenes are powerful and will no doubt leave you with a patriotic feeling.

Of course, the Tattoo isn’t just what you see for the two-and-a-half hours in the Metro Centre – there are Festival Events and the Button Campaign all happening while the Tattoo is on. Festival Events take place at noon during Tattoo week when there are evening shows (this year July 2-4 and 7-8) and happen around the Halifax Regional Municipality. You can find a complete schedule on the Tattoo’s website.

The Button Campaign is an annual scavenger hunt planned in partnership with many local businesses around the province. Simply find all the buttons, take a picture of yourself wearing them in front of a participating business, and you could win a weekend getaway in Pictou County. Doesn’t that sound like a treat? You should definitely check this out.

Photo #1: NS Tourism

The Hampton Inn & Suites, Dartmouth Crossing

There is nothing better than finding a great hotel when travelling. There are so many hotels out there to choose from that a good review from another parent is really important. The Hampton Inn & Suites in Dartmouth Crossing is a beautiful hotel and really caters to families.

We recently stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites with my daughter’s Ringette team. The hotel was full and they did a great job handling the crowds of children. They made sure there was a lifeguard in the pool area when it was busy, and that there was plenty of food available at the breakfast buffet. They also had movies playing in the lobby for older or younger children.

The best thing about the Hampton Inn & Suites, for children, is the amazing pool area. The main pool is very big. There are two hot tubs and a long spiral waterslide that doesn’t empty into the main pool. This is a fantastic feature as it keeps everyone in the pool area completely safe and the waterslide is perfect for smaller children. There is plenty of seating for parents to watch children and the room is open enough that you can see your children from almost anywhere in the room.

The rooms at the Hampton Inn are of average size and nicely decorated. The beds and pillows are among the most comfortable I’ve slept on and the room was spotless.

The breakfast buffet, which is included in the cost of the room, was fantastic. There were many hot breakfast options such as eggs, bacon, oatmeal, bagels and waffles. Cold items such as cereal, yogurt and fruit were available, as were coffee, tea and juice. There are many hotels that don’t offer a full hot breakfast anymore, and it was very much appreciated before my daughter went to her Ringette game. Children eat a lot of food and parents really appreciate them having a full belly before they head out for the day!

Parking is free at this Hampton Inn & Suites since it is located in Dartmouth Crossing. It’s not downtown, but in a good location, close to both bridges, only minutes from downtown Halifax, and a short drive from the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. The hotel is close to many shops and restaurants and next door to a movie theatre. I highly recommend the Hampton Inn & Suites, Dartmouth Crossing. Click here for their website:

Budget-Conscious Date Ideas

Ask any advice columnist or marriage counselor and they will tell you that the secret to keeping the “spark” in your relationship is making time for regular dates with your partner. Great idea, however going out for dinner every week can get pricey, right? The good news is there are lots of inexpensive and/or free options, too. Whether you’re going on your 1st date or your 100th, give these budget-conscious date ideas a try:

“PWYC” (a.k.a. Pay What You Can) at Neptune Theatre The first Tuesday for each play is “Pay What You Can Night”, which means admission is by donation only ($5 is a suggested minimum, but it’s really up to you what you give.) Tickets are given out on a first-come-first-served basis, so you need to line up early (doors open at 7 p.m., shows start at 7:30 p.m.) But there is no assigned seating, so if you don’t mind the wait, you can end up with a great viewpoint – one that would normally cost 10 times your donation! Besides, you can use that line-waiting time to catch up with your partner or learn more about a potential one.

Upcoming PWYC performances: Cradle and All – February 4th Oil and Water – February 18th Mary Poppins: The Musical – April 1st Miss Caledonia – April 29th

Get Game at the Board Room Playing a board game with someone is a great way to bond (laughing and/or working together is sure to bring you closer), and to get to know someone (want to see someone’s true character? Play a game with them.) The Board Room has lots of comfy seats, over 400 board games to choose from, and a small café to keep you energized through that “Ticket to Ride” marathon. The best part is you only have to pay $5 each and you can play as many games as you like, for as long as you want. You can save even more by showing your stamp card on each visit (your 5th one is free!)

Skate at the Emera Oval What is more romantic than skating hand-in-hand, nothing but the winter air and cozy layers between you? The Emera Oval has you covered (ice-skating in winter, rollerblading in summer.) And with public skates taking place at various times throughout the week, this is an activity you can easily fit into a busy schedule. Not to mention the added health benefits! No worries if you don’t have the equipment – everything is available for rent at the Oval. This is one activity that everyone can afford – it’s all free of charge.

Cozy Up With a Cocktail Most of us don’t get to dress up very often, so why not put in a little extra effort and head out for a night on the town with your sweetheart? An expensive dinner isn’t the only option. Try Martini Monday at The Fireside, where all martinis are only $5. Or check out Happy Hour at Niche Lounge, which is 4 p.m. to close EVERY DAY! That means cheap drinks, but also cheap eats (selected appetizers are half price until 6:30 p.m.) Looking for a more casual atmosphere? Pizza Delight on Spring Garden Rd. has $4 drinks ($6 doubles) every day, plus a different food special every day of the week (all-you-can-eat wings, fries, onion rings and garlic cheese fingers for only $15 on Wednesdays!) Share your hopes and dreams, the details of your day, or just your appetizers – whatever you choose!

Laugh It Up at Yuk Yuk’s Dates have to be fun – otherwise, what is the point?! One way to guarantee LOL’s is to take in a show at Yuk Yuk’s comedy club. Cover for Thursday night shows is only $12 ($5 for students), so that’s an awesome date for less than $25! It’s hard not to walk away from a date happy when you spent the entire time laughing. Sure, you could watch a movie at home (again), but I would encourage you to try something new this week and get out on the town for your next date. After all, the important thing is not the cost, it’s the company.

Photo Cred for couple on bikes: NS Tourism