How to live for free all summer

While it’s always nice to have some coin for summer fun, there are lots of things to do in town if your means are limited. Here's how to track down some of the season's best deals.

It's summertime and the spending's easy. The temptations of big-name concerts, eating out, weekend getaways and cooling off with an ice cold beer---or more likely, beers---on a patio, are even harder to resist when the sunshiny weather has got you giddy. When you haven't got much to work with, you've got to decide what's worth breaking the bank for. What better time to bask in local talent and support hometown hotspots? Believe it or not, your pretty penny can get you pretty far in the HRM. When the going gets tough, or if you're living on a budget, here are some ways to keep busy.

Budget Big Screen

If you're a movie buff start by keeping tabs on the alFresco filmFesto, only $5 per screening (see page 34 for this summer's schedule). If you're more into curling up in the comfort of your own home try renting your videos from the public libraries (if you're a member, that is). The selection is pretty good and hey, it's free! Also, the ever-wonderful Video Difference rents movies by aspiring local filmmakers for free as part of their Emerging Filmmakers Program. Since you're already headed to VD, do some good and bring in five non-perishables for a free rental.

Get Movin'

If you want wheels to explore the city's parks, head out to lake or just to get where you're going Ideal Bikes on Barrington has affordable renting rates starting at $15 for four hours and just $25 for a full day. If you're ambitious, they'll also rent you a bike on a weekly basis and throw in a bike rack for your car for an additional fee. And if you'd rather get off the pavement and into the water, pedal on down to Fairfield Road and rent a canoe from St. Mary's Boat Club---you can paddle your way around the North West Arm for just $8 an hour.

Wind Down

Summer is the prime season for relaxation and yoga is a great way to do just that. Check out Karma classes---most studios offer them weekly. It's pay by donation (usually a $5 minimum) with proceeds heading to charity. Stretch it out without loosening the purse strings on Thursday evenings at Breathing Space, Friday nights at Moksha Yoga, Saturday mornings at 108 Yoga and Saturday afternoons at The Yoga Loft, to name a few. And even if you can't fork it over for their pants, Lululemon offers free in-store yoga Sunday mornings from 10:30-11:30. They'll even lend you a mat!

Bottoms Up

Appreciating some local microbrews can be just as cheap as hitting up a power hour. Propeller Brewery and Garrison Brewery run brewery tours that let you dip into a variety of their delicacies. At Propeller you need a minimum of 10 friends and $15 each for a couple hours of fun and great beverages. Garrison requires 15 beer keeners and the price varies from $12 to $16 depending on the time. If you need a hobby to go along with your cheap beer, try making your own. Being a brewmaster in the comfort of your own home is pretty easy and if done properly can result in oodles of beer for way cheaper than you'd pay at the liquor store. Check out a brewing centre like the Noble Grape on Quinpool and five other locations in the HRM. Once you get the gear needed to brew, the actual ingredients cost about $40 to churn out 24 litres of the good stuff.

budget-Priced Fare

If you're too strapped for fine dining, we suggest one of the following---it'll be worth every penny. Start off with breakfast that costs pocket change---but is much more valuable---at Spartan Restaurant on Quinpool, or try a mouth-watering lunch special that won't leave you hungry at Tarek's on Robie. If it's a diner you're looking for, head to the Westcliffe Diner and pay slightly more than bus fare for your lunch ($3.25 for a burger and fries!). Speaking of burgers, on Monday's at Darrell's in the south end, buy one and get the second half off (hurray for two peanut butter burgers!). Finish your night at Hamachi House with half price maki after 10pm for the late night snacker.

Culture Shock

Halifax is bursting with arts and culture---and it doesn't always have to come at a high price. Spend a morning checking out the slew of art galleries the city's got to offer. Heck, make it an art crawl! (See the Hot Summer Guide Visual Arts Events Listings on page 47 for details on where to go.) The next few months are also stacked with festivals pretty much back to back. Most of them are free or reasonably priced, and they're all looking for volunteers. (For a full HSG festival line-up, check out page 28.) If it's a night at the theatre you want, look to Shakespeare by the Sea. It has a recommended donation of $15 that is well worth it. Or, on the other side of the harbour, take in a production at the Dartmouth Players Theatre. If you can make it to the first evening of a production, you only pay $5 for the show. (For more reasonably priced regional theatrical fun, see our handy HSG summer theatre guide page on page 60.)

Allison Saunders is a tight-wad and freelance writer living in Halifax. When she's not pinching pennies, she's living by her personal philosophy: "Never turn down a free meal."

budget venue guide

alFresco filmFesto: 422-3456,

Video Difference: 6086 Quinpool, 425-3029

Ideal Bikes: 1678 Barrington, 444-RIDE

St. Mary's Boat Club: 1641 Fairfield, 490-4688

Breathing Space: 6960 Mumford, 406-9642

Moksha Yoga: 1512 Dresden Row, 420-0888

108 Yoga: The Brewery Market, 1496 Lower Water, 449-0108

The Yoga Loft: 5663 Cornwallis, 429-3330

Lululemon: 5486 Spring Garden, 422-6641

Propeller Brewery: 2015 Gottingen, 422-7767

Garrison Brewery: 1149 Marginal, 453-5343

Noble Grape: 6112 Quinpool, 423-2739

Spartan Restaurant: 6043 Quinpool, 429-6858

Tarek's: 3045 Robie, 454-8723

Westcliffe Diner: 3089 Oxford, 454-8140

Darrell's: 5576 Fenwick, 492-2349

Hamachi House: 5190 Morris, 425-7711

Shakespeare By The Sea: Point Pleasant Park, 422-0295

Dartmouth Players Theatre: 33 Crichton, 465-7529

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