We’ve been waiting two long years to say those words, even though in reality, events never left the Halifax Convention Centre. Our teams have worked diligently since 2020 to find creative ways to keep our doors open, host events, and bring our community together safely. We’ve taken the lessons learned in that time and used them to position our Centre and city for a banner year in 2022.
Each event hosted in 2021 brought its own set of unique challenges and opportunities, and our team tackled each in stride, creating new and innovative ways to host safe events and create memorable experiences for our guests. We emerged as a leader in our industry and quite literally wrote the guidebook on hosting events during a pandemic, with our processes and policies now being used by other convention centres across the country. During one of the most challenging times in recent memory, our Centre became a beacon for the community to come together by providing a safe space for important business and community initiatives including rapid testing, a vaccine clinic, concerts, a cultural exhibit and so much more. Now, as we move forward, we’re back doing what we do best – hosting exceptional events in the heart of downtown Halifax and showing the world what makes Nova Scotia special.
Getting Back to What We Do Best!
Celebrating a year like no other, the Halifax Convention Centre proudly hosted a variety of events in 2021. While many venues were forced to close their doors, we continued hosting events that drove energy and vibrancy throughout our city, all while keeping safety top of mind. Here’s a look at some of the events we hosted in 2021:
Canada Korea Conference 2021
Our first major event of 2021, the Canada-Korea Conference on Science and Technology was an innovative international event with both in-person and virtual participation, connecting delegates from across Canada and Korea. The 2021 conference brought together experts and leaders from academia, industry, research institutes, and the governments of Canada and Korea to discuss challenges in science, technology, and innovation. The theme for the 2021 conference was “New Opportunities in the New Normal” focusing on working together to seek solutions for the future.
The Canada Korea Conference allowed us to get back to our core purpose and put all our learning to the test. We debuted our hybrid suite event setup and resources that helped bring together our in-person and online delegates. The time zone difference didn’t faze us, we had events happening at all hours of the day and night.
The Canadian Defence Security and Aerospace Exhibition Atlantic 2021 (DEFSEC) hosted their 2021 event in October – our first in-person trade show since early 2020. We worked closely with the event organizer to implement health and safety protocols for physical distancing and venue capacity, even as they changed within the week leading up to the event. We helped take the stress of last-minute changes away from our client so they could focus on creating an amazing experience for their delegates and exhibitors. The most important task for our team was communication – gaining the confidence of attendees that their event would be safe and successful. Our website event calendar featured DEFSEC with links to the conference website so attendees could stay up-to-date on the latest conference information. Even more, our social media channels provided a source of information and connection for attendees to ask questions and share feedback.
“We welcomed more than 1,000 aerospace and defense professionals from across Canada and beyond into a safe and productive environment, driving exports, jobs, and security for Canada. A sensible community looking out for one another brought us to this point and our participants were so excited to see one another in person again in a world-class facility at the Halifax Convention Centre.”
- Colin Stephenson, Executive Director DEFSEC Atlantic
Feedback from the attendees and exhibitors was overwhelmingly positive – many commenting on how “normal” the event felt from start to finish thanks to our modern technology, large open spaces, and helpful, hands-on team. With exhibitors from around the world, this conference wasn’t just about seeing old friends, important decisions were made that will impact the aerospace industry right here in Nova Scotia and around the world.
Hal-Con Sci-fi Fantasy Convention
Hal-Con — a celebration of all thing’s science fiction, fantasy, and gaming — returned to the Halifax Convention Centre in October after being cancelled in 2020. The biggest and most important event for our local sci-fi and fantasy community felt like a homecoming for attendees – many of whom only see each other once a year at this event.
In keeping with Public Health guidance, Hal-Con 2021 was a masked event and proof of vaccination was required for all staff, volunteers, and guests. Tickets for Hal-Con 2021 were limited to ensure capacity restrictions were met and the vendor area was spaced out allowing guests to maintain a comfortable distance from each other and help people flow in and out easily. We implemented a rigorous cleaning and sanitizing schedule and Hal-Con volunteers also regularly sanitized high-traffic surfaces such as gaming controllers, arcade cabinets, VR headsets.
Many contingency plans were drafted, and our event teams made sure there were solutions for each possible outcome. We are proud to have hosted one of our region’s favourite events in-person and look forward to welcoming them back in 2022.
“We are thankful for what we’ve been able to accomplish during the past two years as we navigated the pandemic. Now, we’re looking forward to a safe return of a full-scale convention and welcoming back our larger community from the Atlantic provinces and beyond. We can’t wait for fans to see what we have planned for 2022.”
-Fleurette Benoit, Chair of Hal-Con
Festival of Trees
The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia’s Festival of Trees returned to a live, in-person event to mark the event’s 30th anniversary in November and our first gala dinner of 2021. One of the most beloved fundraising events of the year, the Festival of Trees RBC Black Tie Gala was filled with magical moments and top-notch entertainment all aimed at making a difference in the lives of Nova Scotians living with mental illness and addiction.
The atmosphere was one of celebration with the ballroom adorned with live trees used to create the feel of a Christmas tree lot including a simulated fire pit, cozy blankets, Adirondack chairs and strings of lights. The event raised over $342,000 for mental health and addiction support with more than 550 attendees, including Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang who stole the night by auctioning off a “Lunch with the Good Doctor”, receiving a standing ovation from the room for his public service.
“At the Foundation, we work each and every day to help people struggling with mental illness and addiction. We provide funding. We provide support. And, most importantly, we provide hope. We are able to do that because of our donors, partners, volunteers, and friends.”
- Starr Cunningham, President & CEO, Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame (NSSHF) Induction Night
We were thrilled to see the return of the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame Induction Night! Our staff worked closely with the teams from the NSSHF and Eastlink Community TV so that the ceremony could once again be broadcast live.
The 2021 inductees included Richard Dalton, Todd Hallett, Cathy Mason, Robert Putnam, Brian Todd, Ted Upshaw, and the 2004 Team Dacey Brier Curling Champions, with a special guest appearance by three-time Olympian and Nova Scotian artistic gymnast, Ellie Black, who received the Volunteer of the Year Award.
“Induction Night is by far our favourite event at the NS Sport Hall of Fame. This is the night where we honour the humble athletes and builders who have left their marks in this province and far beyond. After a year’s absence due to COVID, the ceremony returned to the Halifax Convention Centre in November of 2021, and it was truly awesome to be back in front of a huge, boisterous, and appreciative crowd. After all, our sport heroes deserve nothing less!”
- Bruce Rainnie, President and CEO, Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame
Easter Seals 100th Anniversary Gala
100 years of helping Nova Scotians with disabilities, what an achievement! In March we hosted 400 guests for this incredible event that highlighted stories of people living with disabilities and how Easter Seals Nova Scotia has provided support throughout their lives. After being rescheduled three times due to the pandemic, this landmark event finally got the gala it deserved.
Co-hosts Michelle Mahoney, who repelled into the Ballroom from the ceiling, and Paul Tingley were highlights of the evening leading the celebrations with guests including three former Premiers, our current Premier Tim Houston, and Chief Medical Officer of Nova Scotia Dr. Robert Strang.
Our event teams worked closely with the organizers who were focused on ensuring the comfort and safety of their guests balanced by the importance of a welcoming, engaging event.