Nova Scotia

Northwest Arm lit up as boaters bid adieu to summer

Halifax’s Northwest Arm lit up Saturday night as dozens of boats decked out in string lights paraded from Point Pleasant Park to Horseshoe Island and back.

As the glowing boats floated by, fireworks were set off from some homes on shore.

The event is known as Venetian Night. According to Ben Goldberg, a volunteer with the Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, it’s been a tradition for boaters in Halifax for more than a century.

“It’s sort of a great way to cap off the summer season,” Goldberg said ahead of the parade. “It’s something that’s held at many different harbours all across the world.”

Goldberg said the name Venetian Night is a nod to a similar event that was held in Venice. He said there were about 100 boats in last year’s parade, though he anticipated fewer this year because the event had been postponed from the original Aug. 26 date.

“People coming together on the water is a very old tradition in Nova Scotia and one that we keep going in a small way with this event,” he said.

Thomas Myrden’s boat tugged a large inflatable unicorn in the parade. He said his favourite part of Venetian Night is spending time with his friends on the water. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)
String lights on a dock.
Scott Christie had strings of lights on his boat. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

The participating vessels were from boat clubs across Nova Scotia. Some clubs have prizes for the best-decorated vessel.

“There’s always some boats that go above and beyond with their decorations and that’s always really fun,” Goldberg said.

Thomas Myrden participated in the parade for a third time.

a boat with string lights in water
The participating vessels were from boat clubs across Nova Scotia. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)
people sit in a boat strung up with lights at dusk on the northwest arm in halifax.
A boat heads toward Point Pleasant Park in Halifax for the start of the parade. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

“It’s just nice to load the boat up with a bunch of friends and get out on the water,” Myrden said as he put the finishing touches on his vessel Saturday evening.

In addition to the lights, Myrden’s boat also featured big speakers and towed a large inflatable unicorn.

“It is quite the scene trying to navigate through it all … it is quite competitive with the decorations,” said Myrden.

four boats strung up with holiday lights in the dark.
Boaters from across Nova Scotia take part in Venetian Night. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)
Boats lit up with string lights in the distance.
Boats near Point Pleasant Park get ready to parade down the Northwest Arm. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Scott Christie has done Venetian Night on the Arm for seven years. “We’re going to have real fireworks that we shoot off the bow,” he said.

Christie said the event has grown over the years.

A woman wearing sunglasses and a blue shirt stands on a dock with boats behind her.
Heather Hoyt has taken part in Venetian Night most years since 2014. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)
fireworks over the water with boats outlined with string lights sail underneath it.
A view of the fireworks from Ben Goldberg’s boat on Saturday night. (Ben Goldberg/Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron)

“It’s a really neat event,” he said. “When we moved here seven years ago, we went out and there were 45 boats the first year and it was amazing … and it has really caught on.”

Heather Hoyt has been a member of the Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron since 2014. She has taken part in the parade for most years since.

“I think it’s a lot of fun when you come down here and watch the boats get prepped, there’s a lot of enthusiasm and excitement,” Hoyt said.

“It’s a splendid two hours, there’s a real sense of community.”

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