Halifax Citadel National Historic Site
Disclosure: our family received a pass to visit the Halifax Citadel. Would you turn that down? All opinions are our own.
“I just love going to National Parks! There is so much to do, and I love collecting the dog tags through the Xplorers programs!” says my 8-year old son.
The Halifax Citadel was definitely one of our favourite National Parks we have visited.
With it being in the middle of the city, there is so much to do, and so many costumed interpreters around, it makes for an exciting visit!
It’s obvious why this strategic hilltop location with a commanding view of the Halifax harbour was chosen in 1749 for the fort destined to protect the city. The Halifax Citadel’s star-shaped architecture is equally as impressive from the inside and out.
Step back in time with the 78th Highlanders and the 3rd Brigade Royal Artillery to learn what it was like for the soldiers and their families to live and work in this historic fort.
About our Visit
The first thing we did when we arrived was head to the information centre at the Fort and sign up for the Xplorers Program.
Try on a 78th Highlanders jacket and see how long you can stand as a sentry. Play hide and seek in the Citadel’s ditch. Even find the gunpowder and see the noonday cannon fired. Complete at least five mini-quest activities outlined in the free booklet to become an official Halifax Citadel Xplorer and receive a special limited edition souvenir. Pick up your booklet at the Information Centre.
Thomas loves to collect the dog tags from all the museums we have visited across the country!
We also discovered the most amazing spy kit called The Citadel Adventures.
“This was most excellent fun and the best part of our visit!” said my 10-year old.
How about solving a 19th century mystery? With the Citadel Adventures you can spy on the Citadel and help foil the enemy’s plans. Then use your Citadel Adventures comic book guide containing your secret orders to search the Citadel to solve the six clues that will help you complete your secret mission and receive a reward. Pick up your spy kit and booklet at the Information Centre.
Fee: Free with regular admission
Daniel and Thomas LOVED going around the Citadel, opening drawers, peeking down tunnels, measuring canons, all in attempt to decode the secret message! This made our visit!
Throughout our visit, we wandered in and out of buildings, up and down stairwells, looked around corners and went through tunnels.
There were so many nooks and crannies to explore, we could have spent the entire day there just exploring!
We tried on military uniforms.
We tried to stand sentry like a guard,
but weren’t as good as them!
One of the highlights was visiting the WWI recreated trenches. You have heard about the trenches, but it is another thing to actually walk through recreated ones. It gives you a whole new perspective on life in the trenches.
Discover aspects of life on the Western Front. Tour a full-size simulated trench, explore dugouts where men took their orders, and take a chilling glimpse at no man’s land through the eyes of a soldier. Step into the nurses’ tent and find out how front-line medicine worked against all odds to save lives.
Inside the main building, there is also a great museum commemorating the World Wars and in particular, soldiers from Nova Scotia. This is not to be missed.
There is so much to do and see at the Citadel for all ages! It’s a place you will want to go back to a lot, as you will learn more each time you go.
Other Ways to Explore the Citadel
Soldier for a Day – Why just be told about what being part of the 78th Highlanders was like when you can actually experience it? Thousands of British soldiers served at Halifax Citadel between 1749 and 1906 – now it’s your turn to impress. Ready to enlist? This unique experience offers an authentic, unforgettable 3-hour long immersion into the life of a 19th century soldier. You can enjoy it on your own, with a friend or as a family.
Ghost Walk – Being obsessed with ghost walks, we did this walk about 3 years ago, and found it so interesting to see and hear a different perspective on the Citadel!
Descending by candlelight through dimly lit passageways toward shadowy inner chambers, you stay close to your guide. Breathlessly anticipating what sinister apparition might lurk around each corner, you pass through ditches, along cobblestoned alleys and over eerie ramparts. Then descend into dark tunnels toward prison cells that once housed hapless soldiers convicted of minor offences. You’re on a nocturnal journey into the haunted history of Halifax Citadel that recounts many a ghost story, tales of the unexplained recounted in chilling detail.
Guided Tours – Tours, included in the price of admission, leave the main courtyard every hour at 5 past the hour. They are offered in English and French, and last about 45 minutes.
Parking is available at the Citadel for $3.15 (subject to change).
Head through the main entrance and around the hill, until you come to the parking kiosk and traffic lights to guide you down.
Hours and Admission
The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site is open year-round, but the hours and services change with the seasons:
May 7 to June 30 – 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
July 1 to August 31 – 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
September 1 to October 31 – 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
November 1 to May 6 – The grounds and washrooms are open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Ghost Tours and other pre-arranged services are available; however, visitor experience services are limited.