The ultimate list of Nova Scotian-filmed holiday movies—and how to watch them | Arts + Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia
IIf you’ve ever wandered downtown on a snowy eve and thought this was the ultimate scene for your seasonal gathering, you’re not alone: The Hallmark Channel itself often bases Nova Scotia on finding our windswept shores, charming towns and a capital steeped in history, the perfect place for, say, an influential businesswoman to meet a local trader and discover the true meaning of vacation.
In fact, representatives from Screen Nova Scotia tell The Coast that the industry body holds annual meetings with both Hallmark and Lifetime, the real Coke and Pepsi of cheesy Christmas movie channels. But when it comes to the golden age of vacation movies shot in Halifax, it’s all about the early 2000s (the tracks, as that’s also the era when rom-coms in general – of which these movies are a seasonal subcategory – were enjoying greater cultural prestige). From the Type-A bride scurrying cross-country for her December 25th wedding to a single mom making the best of things, there was no better place for a heroine to flick her flimsy scarf, to snap their flip phone and fall in love than on film sets in Chester, Mahone Bay, or Halifax itself. Many of these made-for-TV movies would have been lost on YouTube without dedicated Christmas lovers — and they all feel like the generic trademark of curated cosiness that Gen Z made me rediscover Nancy Myers’ genre classics The holidays.
Pick up a shot of eggnog every time you recognize a landmark or streetscape in the Y2K era that follows, locally shot vacation sweethearts that are bound to send you into the cinematic equivalent of a sugar coma – but isn’t that exactly what this time? of the year demands?
Christmas with Holly
Available to rent on Apple TV+, this 2012 film follows the unlikely love that blossoms between a toy store owner and a man who takes care of his orphaned niece on sets in Halifax, Chester and Windsor. Sean Faris provides the man with candy; Eloise Mumford provides enough hair inspiration for you to dig out your curling iron to try and mimic her Goldilocks curls.
The Christmas shoes
In this offering, filmed in Halifax in 2002, multiple story lines tangle like spaghetti: Rob Lowe plays a workaholic lawyer on the brink of losing everything that matters (read: his wife and family), while a neighbor and her family deal with theirs cope with an incurable diagnosis. Her little son just wants to buy her a pair of shoes for Christmas, and these ankle-buckling symbols act as an important plot device. Then there’s the local Christmas choir who loses a leader while the ailing neighbor continues her decline.
Based on a book by Donna VanLiere and responsible for two even more unwieldy sequels (that weren’t filmed in Nova Scotia), this is a treat for all the Loweheads in your life. Rent it with an AMC+ subscription on Prime Video.
A city without Christmas
This 2001 flick begins with a missing boy who only leaves Santa a message wishing he didn’t exist to spare his departing parents the heartache. Seeing the letter for the bright red flag it is, the townsfolk rally to ensure the child does not harm himself. Under the search and rescue team? A jaded metropolitan reporter and fuck you, an angel in disguise, played by Peter Falk. This one seems to be lost to time (although those with a real TV and access to the Hallmark Channel might be in luck), but you can catch the spirit – and see Patricia Heaton rocking some chunky highlights of the era – in the preview above from the flick.
Search for John Christmas
A loose continuation of A city without Christmas, this 2003 offering sees Falk in his role as Angels Among Us, while Valerie Bertinelli portrays a woman who is certain that the photograph she sees in a daily newspaper is a snapshot of her long-lost brother. A devoted fan of the holidays, Falk or shaggy-haired Bertinelli, did the job of saving this film from oblivion by posting it in full on YouTube.
A Christmas Wedding
A decade before she would take home an Emmy for her leading role American Crime Story: Impeachment, Sarah Paulson starred in this 2006 Lifetime film, in which she embarked on a wild cross-country odyssey to get home in time to meet the boring blond hunk Ben (Eric Mabius, who had a truly tragic tragedy). has a bleaching job) to get married on Christmas Day. Another number that may have been forgotten, the only online remnant of this flick is available as a two-part video by a dedicated YouTube archivist.
Candles on Bay Street
OK, OK, so it’s not technically a vacation movie, but this Chester-directed 2006 film stars Alicia Silverstone in full Other Woman mode, so we have to give it a spot on the list. A stale small town in Maine is rocked by the return of Silverstone’s Dee-Dee – as is her childhood neighbor’s marriage, as his former obsession with her reignites. The whole concept of the old flames and the title candles goes a long way towards feeling close to symbolic storytelling, if not an example of it. Rent it on Apple TV+.
Nova Scotia stars in this 2010 Rhode Island offering, in which a town comes together at the behest of a terminally ill eight-year-old to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Man Candy is provided by John Corbett (aka Aidan Shaw from Sex and The City), while – spoiler alert – the highlights of the seasonal mood are captured when a surprise snowfall occurs in the film’s final scene. Not available on any official streaming service in Canada, you can watch this one via a superfan’s YouTube upload.