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Ask a Local: Halifax's Underground Arts Scene


There’s no better way to experience a place than by living like a local. Discover cool coffee shops, live music venues, and secret beaches with tips from locals who make Halifax an amazing place to live and visit. Each of these Haligonians are passionate about this place, and have a story to tell. Get to know them and experience Halifax like a local.

Raeesa Lalani: Halifax's Underground Arts Scene

When you think of the Halifax arts scene, you may think of some of the recognizable names you see on those shiny marquee signs. The shows that will light up your life and delight your senses. For the record: They. Are. Awesome. But I want to take you on a journey to discover some entertainers you may not have heard of, hidden deep within the city. Because believe me, there is some special work happening in this town that people should know about.

Let’s start with year-round programming. No matter the day, month, or year, The Bus Stop Theatre Cooperative, should be at the top of your entertainment checklist. This multi-use performance venue nestled in the North End of Halifax is the heart of the local indie theatre and arts scene. Seriously, this theatre is booked like 360 days a year, with work being created and presented by local talent from around the city.

If you’re looking to experience the world of art and delight your visual senses, there are numerous curated galleries sprinkled around the city, including contemporary art galleries like Studio 21 or The Prow Gallery. If meeting local artists and seeing the creation process is your preference, stop by artist co-operatives Hermes GalleryEyelevel, or Art 1274 Hollis.


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If live music is your entertainment flavour, stop by The Carleton, an iconic sound house in the centre of the city, or meander over to the North End’s single-structure late night favourite, The LocalThe Marquee, and The Seahorse Tavern.


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If you find yourself visiting Halifax in the fall, you’ll need no reminder that this is a university town. There are seven universities and three college campuses in Halifax, so if you happen to be around the city’s South End, head to the Dalhousie quad for an impromptu hype concert, or set your sights on the hidden gem that is the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery’s permanent collection.

Also gracing Halifax stages in the fall, the Prismatic Arts Festival. Established in 2008, this boutique-style, multidisciplinary festival takes place around downtown Halifax, bringing some of the best professional Indigenous artists and artists of colour from across the country to the mainstage. You will experience sounds, languages, cultures, and an artistry that will linger in your mind and heart long after the curtain drops.

The last piece of advice I have is to take a walk around the city and check out those posters on telephone poles. It’s old school, but that’s what we do here – grass roots marketing. Stop just for a moment and look; you might find a show that catches your eye.

Meet the local

Raeesa Lalani (she/her)

Raeesa is a multi-talented arts professional with a B.A. in English and a graduate degree in Journalism. She excels in media and communications, storytelling, audience development, fundraising, and social media. She has experience as an actress, singer, and pianist and is the leader of the Prismatic Arts Festival. Raeesa would like to acknowledge that she was born and raised on the traditional land of Stoney Nakoda land and now resides on Mi’kma’ki in Kjipuktuk.