This post originally appeared on the Tourism Nova Scotia website.
When Nova Scotia’s landscape turns from lush shades of green to brilliant shades of red, orange, and gold, it’s the perfect time to get out and explore. From autumn festivals and farmers’ markets to hikes with picture perfect look-offs, find plenty of ideas of how you can experience fall in Nova Scotia.
Celtic Colours International Festival, Cape Breton
It’s in autumn that the sounds of fiddles, pipes, and voices in song echo over Cape Breton Island. This festival is an event to remember, with over 250 musicians, dancers, singers, and storytellers entertaining at venues across the Island, all set against a stunning backdrop of gold, red, and orange foliage. But, lively concerts are just the beginning. Delve into local food, Gaelic and Mi’kmaw cultures, outdoor excursions like guided hikes and boat tours, and the incredible handmade goods of local artisans as you pick and choose your favourite things to do!
Hands down the most popular hike in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the Skyline Trail has a reputation as a must-do when visiting Nova Scotia no matter the time of year, but is especially dramatic when the fall colours are in full force. View the Cabot Trail’s twists and turns below as the fall foliage carpeting the highlands glimmers in the sunlight. Bring your camera on this relatively easy hike to capture both the vista overlooking the Bay of St. Lawrence and the changing leaves along the trail. Although one of the most striking hikes in Nova Scotia, there are many other places to enjoy the fall colours while taking in a scenic hike. Check out Victoria Park in Truro, trails in Kejimkujik National Park & National Historic Site, Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, strolling along the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail, or really, any hiking trail that has trees!
Harvest season in the Annapolis Valley
September and October are the traditional harvest months in the Annapolis Valley where the rewards of a summer’s worth of hard work tending crops are reaped. The Annapolis Valley is brimming with apple u-picks and farmers’ markets spilling over with selection, other fresh fruits and veggies are also ripe for the picking, literally, including pumpkins which lie waiting to be plucked from fields and transformed into pie or that perfect jack-o-lantern. Fall is also harvest time at vineyards where grapes are processed and crafted into incredible wines with cosy wineries rolling out the welcome mat offering tastings, tours, and quick eats on patios overlooking the vineyards.
City festivals in Halifax
Halifax is bustling no matter the time of year, but offers up a few unique festivals throughout the autumn months. The FIN Atlantic International Film Festival features screenings, industry panels, award ceremonies, and more all celebrating film, music, and media from around the world. The Halifax Oyster Festival is a two-day event on the Halifax Waterfront featuring oyster tastings, a shucking competition, and Nova Scotian beers, wines, ciders, and spirits. Nocturne: Art at Night brings art and energy to the streets of Halifax and Dartmouth in dozens of displays of visual art in galleries and public spaces throughout the city. Enjoy the Halifax Pop Explosion to take in the new and emerging music scene and celebrate cutting-edge music, culture, and media.
Nova Scotia’s charming coastal communities have an increased cozy factor when the autumn months roll around. Known for its colourful streetscapes, incredible seafood restaurants, and its iconic and picturesque waterfront, Lunenburg is the perfect place to stroll in comfortably cool weather. Meander in and out of quaint shops, enjoy a delectable meal of seafood, sip on hand crafted coffees or local wines, and settle in for the night at one of many inns or bed and breakfasts found here.
Fall camping in national parks
One of the most incredible ways to soak up fall vibes in Nova Scotia is by camping beneath the vibrant canopy of colourful leaves. Nova Scotia’s two national parks are open into October and offer many ways to get close to nature during the autumn months. Kejimkujik National Park & National Historic Site provides oTENTik, yurt, rustic cabins, and tenting accommodations. While there, enjoy a scenic paddle in its lakes and rivers, perfect for snapping gorgeous photos of the fall colours. There are even special events like Savour the Trail where hikers can enjoy local foods and beverages while on trails. Cape Breton Highlands National Park offers oTENTiks, equipped camping, and tenting, and provides incredibly scenic hikes of the Cape Breton highlands, including special events during the Hike the Highlands and Celtic Colours International Festival.
Devour! The Food Film Fest
This international festival celebrating cinema, food, and wine culture attracts top-notch chefs from around the globe to the picturesque town of Wolfville, nestled in Nova Scotia’s wine country in the Annapolis Valley. Festival-goers enjoy food films, wine tours, farmers’ market events, special dinners, chef demonstrations, tastings, and pop-ups. This late October event makes for the perfect excuse to escape to wine country and indulge in some of Nova Scotia’s best food and wine.
Collector of many accolades over the years, including being named the Best Scenic Drive in Canada in 2017 by USA Today 10Best, driving along the winding, world-renowned Cabot Trail is an incredible experience no matter the time of year but is punctuated in fall by the very colourful foliage laid out before you like a carpet on the highlands. Stop at the many designated look-offs to capture the stunning coastal views set against the fall colours.
Nova Scotia is the perfect paddling destination, no matter your experience level. During fall the lush green canopies of trees visible from many waterways give way to vibrant autumn tones. Whether paddling through a picturesque harbour, near the 100 Wild Islands, through the secluded inlets of the South Shore, or on the Bay of Fundy coast, fall colours are sure to add an exclamation point to your paddling experience.