Halifax Off The Beaten Path

  • Rushbearing Festival
    Rushbearing Festival
    by suvanki
  • The Shibden Valley in Halifax
    The Shibden Valley in Halifax
    by yvgr
  • The Shibden Valley in Halifax
    The Shibden Valley in Halifax
    by yvgr

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Halifax

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    Climb to the top of Wainhouse Tower!

    by rosata Updated Sep 3, 2013

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    Climb the internal staircase of the ornate Victorian chimney for fabulous views of Halifax and Calderdale district.

    It is 253 feet high, was completed in September 1875 and, well, you tell me how many steps there are up to the top! I counted but didn't arrive at the 'correct' number even though I counted in sets of twenties!!

    It is open a few times each year with a small charge to pay. This is the website to check the open days:

    http://www.calderdale.gov.uk/leisure/localhistory/wainhouse-tower/

    I enjoyed the climb and the achievement and may just go again some time to check my counting ability.

    It is a magnificent piece of industrial architecture originally designed to combat low level pollution, but never put to use.

    I was there as part of an organised VT meet during the Halifax Rushbearing weekend.

    Address: King Cross, Halifax, West Yorkshire

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    Norland Scarecrow Festival

    by toonsarah Updated Sep 19, 2012

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    Scott of the Antarctic
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    We went to Norland on the Sunday morning of the meeting weekend, to see another (more recent) local tradition, the Scarecrow Festival. And it really is as odd as it sounds, and very English, to my mind. Unlike many such traditions, it only dates back a few years; it was started in 2000 as a millennium celebration and proved to be such a popular event that it has continued ever since.

    Norland is a small village on a hillside above and to the south of Sowerby Bridge. It would be a pleasant but unremarkable place were it not for this idiosyncratic annual event. Villagers compete to create an imaginative scarecrow linked to a theme, which is set each year (this year, 2012, the theme was celebrations). Visitors can stroll around the village following a trail or take a bus tour. It is all run entirely on a voluntary basis, with the profits from sales of trail leaflets, refreshments etc. being donated to local charities, spent on village projects (e.g. playing equipment for the children) or used to fund the subsequent year’s event.

    On the morning of our visit the weather was disappointingly drizzly, but I enjoyed myself nevertheless. A cup of coffee and excellent fruit scone in the village church (St Luke’s, 1866) aided recovery from our earlier climb of the Wainhouse Tower, and warmed us up, and then it was out on the trail. Lesley and I wandered along the lanes, peering over hedges at the various scarecrows and also admiring some pretty gardens and attractive old cottages. We didn’t manage to get right round the trail in the time we had available, but we did see quite a lot of the entries. My own choice for winner, of those we saw, would be Capt. Scott of the Antarctic, with ET a close runner-up. But as we drove away from Norland I spotted several more in a field that could well have been contenders if I’d been able to have a closer look!

    Very English, and a surprisingly fun morning!

    If you’re following the weekend in chronological order, click here for my next tip, Triangle, where we had lunch and saw the Rushcart for the final time.

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    Little Valley Brewery

    by toonsarah Updated Sep 19, 2012

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    Our hosts, Sue & Wim
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    On the Saturday morning of our meeting we visited this small brewery located in an old pig shed (yes, really!) high on the moors near Hebden Bridge. We drove through some wonderful, if bleak, scenery to get here – it’s really an amazing location in which to find such a thriving little business.

    We were welcomed by the joint owners, Wim and Sue, and the latter explained the history of the brewery – their first meeting in Kathmandu (qualifying them immediately as the ideal hosts for a group of Virtual Tourists!), Wim’s training and experience of brewing in the Netherlands, and the early years of the brewery. Then it was time for our tour, which Wim conducted. He took us through all stages of the brewing process – I loved the smell of the hops fermenting, and was excited to see his “beer library” (more properly an archive) where he keeps one bottle from each batch that is made – he may need a new pig shed just for these in time, I reckon!

    All the beer is organic, and clearly made with love. As we were visiting so early in the day we had been offered in advance a choice of three (out of eight that they make) to take away, as an alternative to a tasting. But when we found ourselves in the shop / tasting room, it seemed churlish to refuse when a taste was offered, so some of us sacrificed ourselves for the cause! We were given generous tastes of several of the beers (my favourite was the Moor Ale, so I was pleased that I’d selected that as one for my pack). There was also an extra treat: a Trappist-style Abbey Ale that Wim has just recently created, which was really good. A great tour, and excellent hosts – I will be looking out for their beers at any festivals I go to, for sure.

    Our tour cost £10 per head, including the carton of three bottles (worth £6.50) and impromptu tasting – what a bargain!

    I’m pretty sure you will need a car to get here – see map on the website below (under “Contact us”)

    If you’re following the weekend in chronological order, click here for my next tip, a visit to a clog shop.

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    Sowerby Bridge

    by toonsarah Updated Sep 19, 2012

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    Rushbearing in Sowerby Bridge
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    Sowerby Bridge (which I learnt over the weekend to pronounce “Soreby Bridge”) lies just to the west of Halifax. It grew up as a market town at the confluence of two rivers, the Calder and Ryburn, and has a pleasant valley setting. There are remnants of former industry here (mainly the production of steam engines for local textile mills) but today it seems to be largely a suburb of its neighbour to the east. Like many of England’s former industrial towns it appears to be slowly reinventing itself. Signs of this can be seen in the former engineering works converted to living or small business accommodation, and in the tourist-focused developments around the canal and river.
    I found the shops to be an odd mix of (mostly) low-priced, basic and somewhat dull, with (a few) quirky, privately owned gift-shops with an interesting range of goods.

    We came here because of a noteworthy event that takes place here each year on the first weekend in September, the Rushbearing Festival. This is a revival of the ancient custom of bringing fresh rushes, the traditional floor-covering for centuries, to all the churches in the region once a year. To read more, see the festival’s website (below) and my little Sowerby Bridge page for more on this great tradition.

    Or check out the more extensive pages of other VTers such as suvanki’s “Sowerby Bridge, Norland and Triangle –Rushbearing” or Gillybob’s “Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival – 2008”.

    If you’re following the weekend in chronological order, click here for my next tip, our Saturday night dinner back at the Wool Merchant Hotel.

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    Rushbearing in Triangle

    by toonsarah Written Sep 19, 2012

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    Rushbearers arrival at the cricket club
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    When I learned we were going to Triangle Cricket Club I assumed that “Triangle” was simply part of the club’s name, and was surprised to discover that it is actually a place here in West Yorkshire – a small village between Sowerby Bridge and Ripponden in the Ryburn valley. Apparently it used to be called Pond (presumably because there was a pond here?) but got its current name from the patch of ground formed when the old road parted with the newer (A58) toll road to Rochdale. They seem to go in for prosaic names in these parts!

    Triangle should be famous in VT circles as it is home to Rushbearing Meet organiser and badge-maker extraordinaire, Ricky52! When not undertaking these important duties for us though, I learned that he is equally supportive of and active in his local cricket club. And so our group of VTers descended on this peaceful corner of England on the Sunday lunch-time of the Rushbearing Festival weekend. We enjoyed a traditional “cricketer’s tea” of cold meat (or cheese for the vegetarians), salads, hot snacks such as sausage rolls, homemade cake and a cup of tea or coffee – incredibly good value at £3.50!

    We then relaxed outside in the sun, which had put in a welcome appearance after the earlier drizzle in Norland, and waited for the Rushbearing cart to arrive. Some of us took a stroll around the perimeter of the cricket pitch, which is set in a pretty hollow alongside the Ryburn. Some visited the clubhouse, with lots of old photos of cricket teams past on the walls, and very good prices at the bar!

    A local band, the Eclipse Jazz Band, played to entertain those waiting, with the somewhat eccentric leader twirling his colourful umbrella (photo three), but otherwise it seemed adding little to the musical output. It was lovely though to see him invite a little girl with a plastic drum to join the band for one number – I think she contributed more to it than he did!

    When the Rushbearers arrived I was enjoying a beer (!) so missed seeing them descend the steep road over the bridge. But the sight of the cart encircling the pitch in the warm sun, drawn by the still-energetic team that had been on the go now for almost two days, was almost as impressive. Their arrival was followed by Morris and sword dancing, including the excellent young Red Door Rapper troupe who had impressed Lesley and me the previous day in Christchurch, Sowerby Bridge (see my video of them in action). There was also a Mummers’ Play, though I found it hard to hear and to follow that in the buzz of noise and excitement.

    But this was to be our last encounter, for this year, with the Rushbearing Festival. We had a train to catch, and as soon as the cart left the cricket club, we had to do the same. No time to see anything more of Triangle either – that will have to wait till another visit.

    If you’ve been following my little tour, please click here to return to my intro page and maybe leave me a comment.

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    Triangle

    by suvanki Updated Apr 25, 2012

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    Rushbearing at Triangle Cricket Club
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    Triangle is a small village, on the A58 Sowerby Bridge-Ripponden Road.

    This is where we went to see Sundays Rushbearing. We arrived too late to see the spectacular arrival of the cart down Saw Hill. Instead we went to the car park, opposite the now closed pub where despite the rain, we enjoyed seeing some traditional dances

    We also got the chance to chat to the performers, and take plenty of photos, before the cart went on its way to its next destination St. Bartholomew's Church at Ripponden.

    Triangle is also the Manor of one Lord Ricky52 and his good wife Lady Sheila!

    Ricky took us to a row of terraced cottages, and confessed about his mishap with a barbeque- which had us in stitches! I've since heard other stories from Ricky and Sheila about Ricky and Fire-Not to be trusted.....

    In 2010, we witnessed the Rushbearing cart arriving at it's new venue - Triangle Cricket Club, which is the perfect place to witness the arrival of the cart, negotiating the narrow bridge, then circumnavigating the cricket pitch, which must be in one of the most scenic, quintessentially English settings. It's address is quite quaint too - Grassy Bottoms!

    2011, and Triangle was the venue for our 1st Ooop North 'Carry On Camping' VT meet, at Rough Hey camp site - Fun in the rain!!

    Easter 2012, After a mornings Clay Pigeon shooting (Ricky and Phil shooting, me and Sheila watching), we were invited to watch the Duck Race!

    Looking forward to September, and Rushbearing here again!

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    The Shibden Valley

    by yvgr Updated Apr 10, 2012

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    The Shibden Valley in Halifax
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    It's nice to stray off the regular city walk and take off the beaten path. So we did while in Halifax. The Shibden Valley is a nice experience. Shibden Valley is to the east of Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, where the community of Shibden lies. The name of the Shibden valley comes from scepe dene meaning "sheep valley". The area was heavily involved in wool production.
    The Red Beck stream flows down the valley, joining the River Calder at Brookfoot.
    Southowram stands on the southern side of the valley, and Northowram stands on the northern side of the valley. Shibden Valley stretches from Halifax through to Queensbury in the south of Bradford.

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    The Gibbet

    by Suet Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The gibbet 2
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    A creepy thing! of course we had to go and see it and I stuck my head under it, all the while hoping that the bolts would hold and unaware that Ricky52 had it in mind to loosen them earlier on. What are friends for? You don't have to pay to see this... it's totally free.

    They chopped peoples' heads off with gay abandon for stealing cloth... the things people will do to stop you nicking a tea towel....

    Nice little list of people beheaded on the website below if you are interested...

    If you can keep your head when all others around you are losing theirs. A misquote I think.

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    Clay Pigeon Shooting

    by Suet Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Suet shooting
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    This is a regular Sunday morning activity amongst the members of Ricky's Gun Club. The art is that you get kitted up in warm clothing and welly boots and go to a local field. You then skid, slide and slip your way across said field, avoiding the resident bull who can be a trifle tetchy at times, go to the Trap Hut (a box like structure set carefully in the mud) unload your gun, take your position and fire.

    The speed at which the clays come out of the trap are fast. This morning the clays were set to go low and away from you, which required fast reactions to get the buggers before they landed. Clays are different sizes and perform different functions, some are the size of a bumble bee when they are in the air, some go low and roll along the ground. We used the orange ones about the size of a coffee saucer. They are biodegradeable, which is handy as you don't want to be picking chips out of a muddy field all afternoon.

    I used to be good at this. I managed a miserly 3 out of 25 shots (oh the SHAME) but at least the guys didn't take the mickey too much. At least not in my presence. I still had the gun.

    Cost was 4 quid a session. Ricky got 19. Bleh.

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    Hebden Bridge

    by suvanki Written Aug 29, 2010

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    Hebden Bridge
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    Hebden Bridge is known as 'The town for great little shops' or 'One of the Worlds funkiest towns!

    So, lots of individual, independent shops, and a pleasant canal, with brightly coloured barges to see. Hebden Bridge has a Picture house and Theatre too.

    Market Days 09.00 -16.00hrs -Wednesday (2nd Hand goods) Thursday -Fresh produce and general retail
    www.calderdalemarkets.co.uk
    Telephone 014422 359034
    email info@calderdalemarkets.co.uk

    Transport
    Regular trains and buses leave Halifax for Hebden Bridge - Day Rover tickets available - see my Hebden Bridge transport tips

    Hebden Bridge Visitor and Canal Centre (Tourist info)
    Butlers Wharf,
    Hebden Bridge,
    HX7 8AF
    Telephone 01422 843831
    Email hebdenbridge@ytbtic.co.uk
    Open
    16.03 - 15.10 Mon-Fri 09.30 - 17.30 Sat 10.15 - 17.00 Sunday 10.30-17.00

    16.10 -15.03 Mon-Fri 10.00 -17.00 Sat & Sun 10.30 -16.15

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    Cats Eyes!

    by suvanki Updated Aug 23, 2010

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    Ricky 52 and his Cats Eyes

    Something that we probably take for granted, driving past and over them day in day out. Though at night and in foggy conditions, we take a bit more notice!

    As you can see in the photo, Ricky is holding a cats eye - How he obtained it is a bit of a mystery!

    These retro reflective safety devices were the inspired invention of one Percy Shaw, born and bred in Halifax. (He spent 84 years living in the same house that he was born in - he died here at Boothtown Mansion aged 86)

    "One dark foggy night in 1933 Percy Shaw was driving down the steep winding road from Queensbury to his home in Boothtown. He had made this journey at night many times before, using the reflection of his car headlights on the tramlines to help negotiate the hazardous bends, but the tramlines had been taken up for repair.
    Percy later recalled that out of the swirling gloom he noticed two points of light, the headlights had caught the eyes of a cat on a fence. Percy realised the great potential of improving road safety if he could create a reflecting device that could be fitted to road surfaces. After many trials Percy took out patents on his invention in April 1934 and in March 1935 Reflecting Roadstuds Ltd was incorporated, with Percy Shaw as Managing Director".

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    Norland Scarecrow Festival

    by suvanki Updated Aug 23, 2010

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    Alice and The Mad Hatter Scarecrows Norland
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    The Norland Scarecrow Festival/ Trail originated as part of the 2000 Millennium celebrations. Due to its success, it is now an annual event.

    Each year a theme is decided. In 2008, it was Books. This year (3rd - 7th Sept 2010) it is TV Programmes. There will also be a small fair, with a barrel organ and a 20ft tall Scarecrow!

    Funds raised through sales of the trail brochure (£2), or donations from passengers travelling on the free bus service etc go towards the village community fund. Sales of the trail brochure fund the following years event - So please buy at least one!

    Around 80 or more scarecrows are displayed in front gardens of houses, fields, School yards, pubs etc in a 3 mile trail around the village. Each scarecrow is numbered. Some are easily identified, others take a bit more working out - Was it Bagpuss or The Cheshire Cat?- the jury's still out!

    Some repetition is seen - a couple of Mr Men, Alice in Wonderland etc, but all executed differently. Some scarecrows are professional works of art, others are more naive - many of the children of the village take pride in creating their scarecrows.

    We arrived in our 49 seater coach, in a torrential downpour, but our ever resourceful Ricky had flagged down one of the 'First Calder Line' Mini buses, that were providing a free tour of the trail. Although the driver was due to finish his shift, he came back to give us an entertaining tour of the scarecrows.

    At the end we gave donations, which went towards the village fund.

    The torrential rain over the 5th - 9th September, meant that the field for free car parking. refreshments, souvenir stands, entertainments etc; was a 'no go' area.

    Cream teas and other refreshments are available at various points- please check the website.

    Trail Guides cost £2, though I'm afraid that I didn't see one.

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    Keighley and Worth Valley Railways

    by suvanki Updated Aug 23, 2010

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    Buy your ticket here!
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    The only clue that Ricky 52 had given us about the The Mystery Trip, was that 'Some people would have done it already, Some will have wanted to do it, and some might do it again'!!!

    As we swung into the car park all was revealed!!! - we were to board our reserved carriage to travel by steam train from Oxenhope, where we were standing, to Keighley and back!!! (Well I'd done it already, had wanted to do it again, and will probably do it again one day)

    The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway (KWVR) is staffed by around 100 qualified volunteers, who keep the trains running, maintain the lines and stations as well as providing catering facillities, admin/marketing and sales etc. 2008 was the 40th Anniversary of the KWVR. There were special events to celebrate - Steam Gala weekends- 10-12th October 08 and 14-16th February 2009. October 24-26th 2008 there was a Beer and Music weekend

    On selected Saturday evening and Sunday afternoons 'White Rose Dining Trains' are in service- a chance to enjoy a meal served in a 1950s dining carriage

    Friday 8th - Sunday 10th October - Autumn Steam Gala

    Thursday 21st - Sunday 24th October - Beer & Music Festival

    Pre-Christmas Weekends - Santa Specials

    Boxing Day - Monday 3rd January 2011 - Mince Pie Specials

    Check the website for more info about these and Santa Specials, Carol Singing etc.

    The line was built in 1867 by local mill owners to transport raw and finished materials. In 1924 it became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, then British Rail in 1948, who closed this branch on 1st January 1961 as part of its cut backs!

    Locals opposed to the closure, formed a railway preservation society in March '62 . A subsequent Company formed to buy the Line outright, lease access to Keighley station and operate a regular public service.

    However, it wasn't until 1968, that passenger trains ran again.

    The popularity of the film 'The Railway Children' in 1970, brought scores of visitors to the area to see the location, where many of the iconic scenes were filmed. Even today, you can hear women of a certain age standing on the station platforms crying "Daddy, My Daddy" - Oakworth station is where the scene was filmed.

    Pick up a copy of the KWVR Visitor Information pamphlet and you'll find a map showing location points and a Railway Children Walk. There are guided Railway Children Walks, including August Bank Holiday 2010, to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the film. There is also the chance to spend a day as Mr Perks - opening and closing the gates, operating the signals etc.

    The line passes through 'Bronte Country' stopping at Haworth, where you can visit the Parsonage Museum - the former home of the Brontes, the church, where family members are buried, shops frequented by the literary sisters, and a chance to wander the cobbled streets.

    The train carries locals as well as tourists, for shopping or work in Keighley, or connections to other destinations.

    The web site has lots of useful and interesting information

    It was a great experience for us all, the staff were very helpful, and obliging with photo's and taking our group shots etc.

    As it's a fully working steam train-expect to get bits of soot etc on you and your clothes if you stick your head out of the train window, or stand near to the engine!

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    Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival

    by suvanki Updated Feb 18, 2009

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    Rushbearing Festival
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    We were to enjoy this spectacle on Saturday afternoon at Sowerby Bridge, then on Sunday afternoon in the village of Triangle.

    In the olden days-many centuries ago, church floors were covered by rushes, gathered from the local riverbanks. After a year of being trodden on by the worshippers and rotting down, they were thrown out, and replaced by new rushes that were brought to the church by carts.

    In the 17th century, a Festival arose from this.The occasion was celebrated with music, dancing and much consumption of ale! Brawls were common between drunken rival supporters and builders of the Rushcarts.

    Over the years, the festivities declined, partly due to the lessening need for rush flooring, and so, by the end of the 18th century, building of the rushcarts had ceased. Though there were still commemorative festivals.

    At the beginning of the 20th Century, Rushcarts were re introduced into the festivities at Sowerby Bridge.

    The first weekend in September is the date to put in your diary, to witness this colourful spectacle.

    Please check out the website for more info on the history etc.

    We arrived, just before the roads were closed to traffic- our coach stopped near to the church of St Patricks, so some of us grabbed a viewing spot here, while others lined the pavements below.

    I had a great vantage point, as the internationally renowned band -'The Piece Artistes ' led the procession in front of us. Morris men, sword dancers, Mummers etc passed by, followed by the white shirted teams of men pulling the Rushcart, upon which was perched a local lass astride a saddle, another team of men followed the cart.

    While the procession carried on to the canal basin, some of us witnessed a longsword dance in front of the church doors.

    I was surprised to find that this team was from Grenoside in my home city of Sheffield. I suppose they are 'rivals' to my local team from Handsworth!

    Please nip over to my Sowerby Bridge page for more pics and info.

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    HEBDEN BRIDGE

    by LoriPori Written Sep 23, 2008

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    Hebden Bridge - Old Packhors Bridge
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    Saturday, September 6 and Thursday September 11, 2008
    The countryside and villages around HEBDEN BRIDGE have turned the area into the undisputed tourism capital of Calderdale. Thousands of visitors from far and wide visit the village each year.
    The Village is eight miles (13 km) west of Halifax at the confluence of the River Calder and Hebden Water.
    Hebden Bridge and the adjoining village of Mytholmroyd were once busy industrial centres with cotton and woollen mills producing corduroy, moleskin cloth and finished garments. Hebden Bridge factories - water-driven at first - gradually replaced the traditional handloom weaving and spinning carried on at area farms and cottages. There are many reminders of the area's industrial past - ruined mills - lonely chimneys!
    Hebden Bridge takes its name from the "Packhorse Bridge" over Hebden Water.
    The restored Rochdale Canal attracts boaters, fishermen and walkers.
    Hans and I spent our time browsing the many shops that fill the streets of Hebden Bridge and St. George's Square, which is for pedestrians only, made it quite relaxing to walk around this lovely town.

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