January 3, 2024
A new year, a new line-up of must-do activities and adventures in the Maritimes! Once again, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite things to do in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Some ideas may be completely new to you, while other suggestions may bring back a flood of cherished memories. But no matter if it’s your first visit, you’re returning after a few years away or you’re a local looking for something new, we’ve got you covered. Get ready for a year full of fun right here in the Maritimes!
Location: Saint John, New Brunswick
Recently, CNN named Saint John, New Brunswick, one of the best places to visit in 2024. And since MV Fundy Rose sails into Saint John every day, it’s easy to spend some time in “The Port City” when you travel by ferry! Bustling with an old-world charm, Saint John is home to fantastic dining, a vibrant arts and culture scene (check out the International Sculpture Trail and the Art in Public Places Walking Tour), and the Saint John City Market — Canada’s oldest continuing farmer’s market. Nature lovers will enjoy the city’s fascinating Reversing Falls Rapids or traversing eight walking trails spanning six different ecosystems at Irving Nature Park. And if you’re fascinated by history and geology, you’ll need to take some time to explore the Stonehammer UNESCO Global Geopark in Southern New Brunswick. The first designated Geopark in North America, Stonehammer features rock and fossils with a geological history going back 1,000,000,000 years, as well as hiking trails, nature preserves, monuments, waterfalls, beaches and geosites. Looking for more ways to spend a day in Saint John? Check out our helpful 24 hours in Saint John, New Brunswick itinerary!
The Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal and Great Barrier Reef; each is renowned as a UNESCO World Heritage Site — meaning they have been designated universally significant, and should be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Nova Scotia joins this illustrious company with six of its own UNESCO designated sites:
Location: Lunenburg Waterfront, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Hey everybody, it’s hammer time! The Stonehammer UNESCO Global Geopark in Southern New Brunswick is the first designated Geopark in North America. The 2,500-kilometre region features rock and fossils with a geological history going back 1,000,000,000 years, as well as hiking trails, nature preserves, monuments, waterfalls, beaches and geosites that you’ll definitely want to explore.
You’ve heard of dinner and a show, but how about a ferry ride, dinner and a show at one of the Maritimes’ acclaimed theatres?
Location: Imperial Theatre, Saint John
On your marks, get set and go train for one of many marathon weekends being held in the Maritimes this year! Be it a 5K, 10K, the 21K half marathon or the full 42.1 kilometres, you’ll love the community spirit — as well as the strength, endurance and energy you’ll get during the training process — at any one of these signature events:
See Canada’s biggest music celebration in person when the JUNOS come to Halifax in March! In addition to a roster of events including the popular Songwriter’s Circle, Comedy Show and Stories from the Studio, The 2024 JUNO Awards (March 21 – 24) marquee show will feature performances by Nelly Furtado, The Beaches, Charlotte Cardin and “the Godfather of Canadian Hip-hop” Maestro Fresh Wes.
Anne of Green Gables is synonymous with Prince Edward Island. It’s impossible to separate Anne Shirley, everyone’s favourite red-headed orphan, from the Island she calls home. You can learn all about her, as well as the author who brought her to life, when you visit Green Gables Heritage Place (May 1 – October 31). Immerse yourself in the 19th century gardens and farmyard, take a stroll through the Haunted Wood Trail and Lover’s Lane or simply explore the Visitor Centre. This is a must for Anne fans!
Location: Green Gables Heritage Place, PEI
Credit: Tourism PEI / Photographer: Stephen Harris
The Hopewell Rocks are a New Brunswick icon. Located along Hopewell Cape, these free-standing sea stacks have been shaped by the tides of the Bay of Fundy over thousands of years, resulting in the unique structures you’ll see when you visit. Make your way here from mid-May until mid-October and you can walk beneath the rocks at low tide, then return a few hours later at high tide and kayak around them.
Every year, people from around the world make their way to Nova Scotia to drive the Cabot Trail — Cape Breton’s world-famous sensational scenic route. This 298-kilometre journey weaves its way through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, showcasing a visually stunning feast at every turn. Plus, there are plenty of hamlets, restaurants, local shops and attractions to take in along the way, making this a drive to remember.
If you want to see everything the Island has to offer, the Confederation Trail is the place for you! Once PEI’s rail line, this trail spans from tip to tip across the province — 273 kilometres from Tignish to Elmira. The trail itself runs 449 kilometres, with nearly 250 interpretive panels along the route to tell the Island’s history, from geographical facts to architectural evolution. Accessible year-round, the trail is perfect for walking or biking and suitable for all fitness levels.
Did you know you can find the highest concentration of lighthouses in North America on PEI? It’s true! There are 63 lighthouses and range lights here — that works out to be about one lighthouse every 55 kilometres — and eight of these lighthouses are open as community museums. They include:
The Wood Islands Lighthouse Museum is mere minutes from the ferry — sounds like the perfect way to start a PEI adventure.
Location: Westpoint Lighthouse Museum
Credit: Tourism PEI / Photographer: Paul Baglole
King’s Landing is New Brunswick’s living museum, allowing you to experience what life was like in the province some 200 years ago. Set across 300 acres and home to more than 70,000 artifacts and 70 historic buildings, there’s no time like the present to dive into the past at King’s Landing. Primarily open June to October, with special events throughout the year.
A Maritime tradition, the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo (June 28 – July 1) has been charming the world since 1979. Initially, the Tattoo was meant to be a one-time show, but the mix of music, pageantry, pomp and acrobatics proved to be a hit with audiences. Now, more than 40 years later, the Tattoo continues to delight, and no summer visit to Halifax is complete without experiencing this two-and-a-half-hour celebration of culture, history and traditions.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about Acadian culture? You can at Village Historique Acadien! This open-air museum in New Brunswick features approximately 40 historic buildings spread across a 2.2-kilometre path, with costumed, bilingual interpreters bringing to life the traditional customs and trades of the Acadians from 1770 to 1949. From June to September, you can also check out a wealth of daily cultural activities, cooking workshops and more.
Over the years, Cavendish Beach has earned its reputation as a country music mecca on the East Coast of Canada. The Cavendish Beach Music Festival returns in 2024 (July 5 – 7), with performers that will make you want to saddle up for the Island (in your finest cowboy boots and hat, of course). This year, headliners include Tyler Childers and the Zac Brown Band, with many more acts to be announced for this three-day summer festival of fun. Yeehaw!
As the largest historical reconstruction in North America, the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site authentically transports you back to the 18th century to experience life in a French colonial town full of local villagers, sailors, fishermen and soldiers. While you’re here, be sure to visit the Mi’kmaw Interpretive Centre for a fascinating look at Mi’kmaw history through artifacts, imagery, storytelling and more.
Location: Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, Louisbourg, Cape Breton
Credit: Tourism Nova Scotia / Photographer: Cinq Fourchettes – Nancy Bordeleau
From its early beginnings in 1888, Old Home Week (August 9 – 18) is now one of the most popular festivals on the Island. In celebration of PEI’s agricultural history, it features everything from livestock exhibitions, harness racing and midway rides to market vendors, magic shows, barbeques, dance parties and the Sounds of the Island Concert Series. Every day is packed with a full roster of family-friendly events!
The home of the highest tides in the world is also the perfect place to find an amazing assortment of marine life. Head out on the water on a whale watching adventure and keep your eyes peeled for playful humpbacks, enormous finbacks, rare right whales, seals, porpoises and more. There’s no doubt about it — you’re sure to have a whale of a time!
With 400+ musicians, 150 performances and 27 stages over six days (September 10 – 15), no wonder the Harvest Music Festival has been called “the best international festival experience on the East Coast”! Each year, the festival showcases a combination of renowned musical performers and up-and-coming discoveries in the historic downtown of Fredericton. Past artists have included Robert Plant, Lucinda Williams, Colin James, Broken Social Scene and many more!
Nova Scotia has come a long way since its early grape-stomping days in the 1600s. Today, Canada’s Ocean Playground is recognized as an award-winning wine region on the world stage, producing distinctive varietals like L’Acadie Blanc, Marachal Foch, Baco Noir and the signature Tidal Bay — the first wine appellation for Nova Scotia and totally unique to North America. Choose from an array of wine tours, packages and experiences, and raise a glass to life in the Maritimes!
Location: Luckett Vineyards, Fundy Shore and Annapolis Valley
Credit: Tourism Nova Scotia
If you love all things crustacean and mollusk — be it lobsters, crab and shrimps, or scallops, oysters, clams and mussels — then be sure to go to the PEI International Shellfish Festival! Running September 19 – 22, this deliciously popular annual festival features the freshest of shellfish, celebrity chefs, top culinary talents, East Coast performances and an entertaining array of events including an international chef challenge, oyster-shucking and chowder championships and the “Tie One On Mussel Competition”.
Looking to pair an outdoor adventure with stunning views? A hike through Cape Split Provincial Park is just the thing for you. Hikers of all skill levels will be rewarded here with an up-close look at Nova Scotia’s natural beauty. Cape Split features a 13.2-kilometre looped trail that takes you through old-growth and coastal conifer forests and offers beautiful views of Scots Bay and the Minas Basin.
Wolfville’s Devour! The Food Film Fest (October 21 – 27) is the largest food film festival in the world, combining cinematic excellence with 100+ events, celebrated filmmakers and high-profile chefs from around the globe. Featuring everything from gala screenings and dinners to wine-tasting workshops, it has become a destination for celebrities and notable chefs alike including Anthony Bourdain, Phil Rosenthal, Jacques Pépin, Dominique Crenn, Gordon Pinsent, Jason Priestley, Lidia Bastianich and Bill Pullman.
Located along New Brunswick’s Acadian Coast, Kouchibouguac National Park is ideal for water lovers. After all, it boasts the warmest saltwater beaches north of Virginia! Take a dip at Kellys Beach or Callanders Beach in the summer, enjoy skiing and snowshoeing in the winter or head out on a hike or bike ride any time of year. Then, when the sun goes down, camp out in one of the darkest places in North America and see the stars in a whole new light in a Dark Sky Preserve.
Location: Kouchibouguac National Park, NB
Credit: Nigel Fearon
We saved the best for last! No trip to the Maritimes is complete without a journey by ferry. Take Northumberland Ferries from Nova Scotia to PEI as the kickoff to your Island adventure, or conveniently cross between Digby and Saint John aboard MV Fundy Rose. Going international in 2024? There’s no better way to travel than aboard The CAT, which sails across the Gulf of Maine between Bar Harbor, Maine and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
We look forward to welcoming you aboard in 2024 and we hope your year is full of fun, friends and ferries!