One of the most popular things that Nova Scotia is known for is lobster. Nova Scotian lobster fished fresh from the Atlantic ocean year round is by far our tastiest export. We love lobster in Nova Scotia so much that we have now dedicated the entire month of February to it’s celebration during the Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl Festival on the south shore of Nova Scotia. This month long “shell-ebration” highlights everything from the lobster fishermen / people to local restaurants, artisans, beverage makers, accommodations and more all centred around this delicious crustacean.
As the Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl goes into its 5th year in February 2023 here is the ultimate guide to the best of the Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl Festival. From what to eat, see and do to where to stay, what events to attend and more. For more information and to stay up to date be sure to check out LobsterCrawl.ca.
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Nova Scotia Lobster Facts
Before we talk about the festival we need to talk about lobster. It is always lobster season in Nova Scotia! The season rotates to different sections around the province. The longest and biggest lobster fishing season in Nova Scotia is on the south shore from Peggy’s Cove to Barrington in lobster fishing sections 33 and 34. This season begins on the last Monday of November (weather permitting) and ends May 31st every year.
To keep a lobster it must be 8.25cm long at the carapace and at that size it typically weighs about 3/4 of a lb. Lobsters that are that size and legal to catch are typically 7-9 years old. However a lobster that weighs 7lbs for example is most likely 50 years old.
Not just anyone can fish for lobster in Nova Scotia. You need a lobster fishing license and they can be quite costly and hard to come by. Unfortunately you can’t catch your own lobster when you visit Nova Scotia. There are a few tour operators however who can take you out on a lobster boat and teach you everything you want to know. They will also let you pull up approved lobsters from their traps for you to give it a try. Check out the Bay of Fundy Scenic Lobster Tours HERE.
How much does Nova Scotian Lobster Cost?
Fresh Nova Scotia lobster prices change constantly. Supply and demand changes as does the weather and better seasons to fish all make the price go up and down. One week you could be paying $9 a pound and the next it could be up to $15. Those prices are fresh from the wharf from a local fisherman. When you purchase fresh lobster from seafood shops the price is a bit higher and then when you buy it as a meal at a restaurant it is again even more. There are also several lobster pounds around the province where you can buy lobster direct, but again the price may always vary. No matter the price when you buy lobster in Nova Scotia you are getting the very best.
Lobster Ground Hog Day
Every year the first official kick off event for the Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl takes place on the morning of February 2nd at 8am AST. Groundhog day. This is when the iconic Lucy the Lobster makes her way out of the chilly Atlantic waters to tell us if we will have an early spring or 6 more weeks of winter. Move over Shubenacadie Sam, Wiarton Willy and Punxsutawney Phil, there is a new prognosticator in town and I wouldn’t mess with her and those big claws. However whether she sees her shadow or not we know that we still have a few months left to celebrate all things lobster on the south shore.
This Lobster Crawl festival kick off event takes place near the gazebo at the Cape Sable Island Causeway in Barrington, Nova Scotia. When rules allow all are welcome to join the event and watch Lucy the lobster make her predictions. Simultaneously the event is also live streamed on the Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl Facebook page for those who would rather watch from the warmth of home that early in the morning in February.
Nova Scotian Lobster Rolls
Lobster rolls are definitely the star of the show when it comes to the Lobster Crawl festival. Each year 14+ restaurants from Peggy’s Cove to Barrington feature delicious lobster rolls on their menus all February long. There are many variations and all are delicious. During the festival there is also a lobster roll-off competition where they compete head to head with a panel of judges and peoples choice award to determine the best lobster roll for that year. Previous winners have been the two time champion Captain Kat’s Lobster Shack in Barrington, the 27 South Restaurant at the Best Western Bridgewater and Osprey’s Nest Public House in Petite Riviere.
In my opinion a true and classic lobster roll should be served in a lightly toasted buttery bun with cold lobster meat mixed with mayo and green onion. Some prefer celery as well or an aioli instead of mayo. I also enjoy it toasted with garlic butter. Others also like lettuce on their lobster roll. There are many variations but those are the typical ingredients and ways a true Nova Scotian lobster roll is made. This is commonly also known as the New England style lobster roll. Another known style of the lobster roll is the Connecticut Lobster roll which is typically warm lobster served in a toasted bun and smothered in melted butter. Both are delicious!
Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl Events
Each year there are various lobster related events during the Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl. Aside from being able to attend the lobster roll-off competition, there a few other events and the calendar changes each year. Previous events have included the seafood chowder competition, a craft beer festival, and an art show. There are also opportunities to let your creative side show with paint nights, learning to draw lobsters, and nautical rope making classes. They also offer events to get outside and enjoy the winter with fat bike riding events, hikes and more.
To learn about all of the great events taking place at the next Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl be sure to check out the schedule on their site LobsterCrawl.ca .
The Best Seafood Chowder Competition
Another food that is loved and enjoyed in Nova Scotia is seafood chowder. Seafood chowder can have anything in it from scallops to haddock, shrimp, haddock, you name it. But of course we can’t forget delicious chunks of lobster. But who makes it best? Whose is the creamiest? Which one is jammed pack with seafood? Whose is just salty enough? Another great event during the Lobster Crawl festival is the Seafood Chowder Competition.
During the Lobster Crawl Seafood Chowder competition chefs from various south shore restaurants compete to have the best seafood lobster chowder. The best part about this event is that anyone can attend and try all of the chowders for themselves. Not only can you then help pick the winners but you also know what restaurants to then go to later to enjoy your favourites.
To find even more delicious chowders in Nova Scotia check out the Chowder Trail HERE.
Celebrate the Official Craft Beer of the Lobster Crawl Festival
Have you ever tried lobster beer? Sounds a bit odd doesn’t it? But you have to try it at least once. The unique and delicious Crustacean Elation Pale Ale is made by the Saltbox Brewing Co. in Mahone Bay. They also happen to be the official beer of the Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl. Whole lobsters and fired roasted lobster shells infuse the beer with “…a hint of bitterness and a slightly sweet briny finish that is the essence of the sea.“. It is an easily drinkable beer and of course pairs well with your favourite lobster roll. Order it where served, stopped by the brewery for a taste or grab some tall boys to go. (Must be 19+, drink responsibly.)
Crustacean Elation is available a good part of year and with over 56 craft beer breweries in Nova Scotia there are a lot of other great beers to try as well. Grab your tickets and take part in the Craft Beer Festival during the Lobster Crawl. Enjoy a night of local craft beer tastings with a few lobster treats included. Check out LobsterCrawl.ca for more information and ticket availability for February 2023.
Other Tasty Lobster Treats
Aside from lobster rolls, lobster chowder and lobster beer there are also a lot of other lobster dishes celebrated during the lobster crawl. You can literally cook lobster so many different ways or include it in foods outside of the typical lobster dishes. As you make your way around to all of the participating restaurants on the south shore be sure to give them a try. Examples from previous years are: lobster poutine at White Point Beach Resort, lobster pizza at Betty’s at the Kitch, lobster mac and cheese at Boxing Rock Brewing Co., the Lunenburger at the Grand Banker (which is lobster on a burger), or also try their lobster eggs Benedict for brunch. The Old Black Forest German restaurant is also always adding lobster into their German dishes like lobster spaetzle and lobster maultaschen.
If you are lucky you might even find lobster ice cream or cookies decorated as lobsters. The options are literally endless for delicious lobster foods!
A great thing about the Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl is that it encourages people to get out and explore during the colder winter months. February can be chilly and filled with snowstorms, but there are always sunny days with blue skies for you to enjoy as well. Popular things to do outside in February along the south shore during the lobster crawl include riding Fat Bikes, snowshoeing, hiking, strolling along snowy beaches, taking part in local communities lobster scavenger hunts and more. Enjoy a weekend along the south shore at a cozy accommodation, have some delicious lobster and get out and explore the outdoors!
Lobster Crawl Accommodation Packages
The South Shore of Nova Scotia stretches from Peggy’s Cove to Barrington and that is roughly a 2hour and 40 minute drive. Sure you can drive there and back in a day but why not make a few nights of the trip. Then you can find some great new accommodations to enjoy, support local and spend more time eating lobster then driving. During the Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl lots of small accommodation owners also offer great lobster related packages to enjoy. Here are a few examples of participating accommodations and their packages offered in the 2022 season.
Boulder Cove Cottages
The Boulder Cove Cottages Lobster Lovers package is perfect for a romantic getaway on the ocean. When you arrive at your cottage a fresh out of the oven loaf of homemade bread will be waiting for you. Perfectly paired with 3 lobsters for two to enjoy and boil yourself. Located in Shelburne, Nova Scotia they are a great destination to explore and if you are lucky you might see some wild bunnies as well. $182+hst
Seaside Cottages at Ginger Hill
The Seaside Cottages at Ginger Hill are in Lockeport, Nova Scotia and look out over the gorgeous Crescent beach. Their adorable seaside cottages sleep 4 and when booking with them you can add on as many lobsters and scallops that you would like. Their seafood feast packages include a local bottle of wine from Avondale Sky, a baguette, butter, lemon, lobster cookie and everything you need to cook your own seafood feast. Fill your pot up with ocean water and boil away on the provided outdoor propane burner.
River Ridge Lodge B&B
River Ridge Lodge B&B is located in Mahone Bay about 5minutes from the busy town area. Situated on a large property they are a great destination to enjoy for snowshoeing and hiking or biking the nearby rails to trails. Their package includes a two night stay for two with breakfast each morning. Included is also a $50 gift card to the Old Black Forest restaurant or Betty’s at the Kitch to enjoy their lobster dishes and a flight of beer at the Saltbox Brewing Co. $375+hst
Roseway River Cottages
Another great accommodation option while exploring the south shore of Nova Scotia are the Roseway River Cottages just outside of Shelburne. These small cottages sleep 4-5 people each and sit along the bustling Roseway river. Their property is great for exploring and hiking and with new owners they plan on having more accommodation options soon. The property will become a retreat for relaxation with places for yoga and more. Booking their lobster crawl package also gets you a $50 gift card to enjoy the lobster roll at the nearby Nova Scotia Rollies and Catering Co.
Take Lobsters to Go
Traveling home and wishing you could have lobsters there? You can! Clearwater seafoods can package up live or cooked lobsters in an airplane safe box and you can take them on the plane as a carry on item. They even have a shop right in the Halifax airport where you can pick them up fresh to go.
Or if you can’t make it to Nova Scotia for the Lobster Crawl we can send them to your door! Visit YourLobsterPot.ca to see how you can order a lobster crawl package for two that includes two lobsters, a Lunenburg rum cake, all of the tools needed to eat your lobster and more.
Hopefully this convinces you to consider visiting Nova Scotia in February to enjoy our delicious lobster. Go out there and enjoy and get crackin’!
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