Bloomsday Halifax

June 16, 2019

Your mobile device is your gateway between modern Halifax and 1904 Dublin in a unique tribute to James Joyce's masterpiece Ulysses.

Use the Web App

Discover Dublin, Discover Halifax

From the Martello Tower to the beach and of course our Irish-style pubs, Halifax has many places that parallel the Dublin locations in Ulysses.

Let the mobile app guide you to each area and unlock the episodes of the novel, as well as the histories of both Halifax and Dublin.

A Gateway to a Classic

James Joyce's Ulysses is a modernist masterpiece and also one of the most complex novels ever written - but beneath the worldplay and layers of narrative complexity there are very human stories.

The Bloomsday Halifax experience helps you understand the novel, its themes, and its characters, without having to take a graduate seminar.

A Literary Guide, A Scavenger Hunt

Through your mobile device you can take on the persona of a character from the book, explore locations and the events that take place at them, and even discover and collect virtual items.

As your voyage through the city and the book progresses, your story grows and becomes interwoven with those of the other participants.


What is Ulysses?

James Joyce's Ulysses is one of the most important novels of the 20th century. It was published in Paris in 1922, but the events of the novel take place on a single day in 1904 in Dublin, Ireland.

The book follows two main characters, Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, as they wander the streets of Dublin, having experiences at real locations and meeting various people both real and imaginary.

If it's set in Dublin, why is it called Ulysses?

One of the many things Joyce was trying to do with Ulysses was to combine the everyday with the mythical. Thus, every episode in the book parallels an incident from Homer's Odyssey. For example, trying to find a restaurant for lunch is linked to the monstrous, insatiably cannibalistic Lestrygonians, and a funeral is linked to Odysseus' trip to Hades. Each chapter is also linked to a colour, a symbol, a part of the body, and many have their own unique narrative techniques and literary forms - all the details can be found here and here. You don't need to know all of these parallels to enjoy the book, but they can help you get more out of it.

What is Bloomsday?

Everything in the book takes place in real locations in Dublin all on one specific day: June 16, 1904. June 16th has now become known as "Bloomsday" after the main character, Leopold Bloom. Because many of the locations still exist, literature enthusiasts retrace the steps of the main characters across Dublin every June 16.

Bloomsday isn't only celebrated in Dublin, though. It's also done in London, New York, and other cities around the world. Often there are readings, screenings, dramatic reenactments, and plenty of authentic food and drink.

Halifax, with our ocean-side location, similar architectural traditions, and large academic/intellectual population, seems like a natural place to celebrate Bloomsday - but nobody has done it before ... until now!

So What's Happening In Halifax On June 16?

People are invited to participate in Bloomsday at various locations and times around the Halifax Peninsula. The heart of this project is a mobile app which will help guide you to the locations and give you various activities you can do when there.

Do I Need to Have Read Ulysses?

Not at all! In fact the Bloomsday Halifax exprience might help you get more context to make it easier to understand what's going on when you eventually do read the novel.

Even if you have read Ulysses, you certainly don't need to be an expert to share in the experience.

How Do I Get The App?

When the app is ready and available, links will be added to this page. There will be a signup form here soon too, so you can be notified of updates and can register for the events.

So What Does the App Do?

The app is still a work in progress, but in general, it will guide you to various locations on the Halifax Peninsula, from Point Pleasant to Agricola Street. When you are in a location, content will be unlocked that lets you find out more about the history of this part of Halifax, its matching location in Dublin, and what happens in the chapter of the book.

Text from the appropriate chapter of the novel will pop up periodically while you're in the area. There will also be the opportunity to find and collect chapter-appropriate items placed virtually in the area - get close enough to a specified location and you will be able to add the item to your collection in the app. Some items will be time-sensitive, and others will be unique, only appearing for the first person to find them.

You will also have the option of being prompted to say things or take actions that reflect the incidents in the book at appropriate times and places.

At the start, you will select the "persona" of a character from the book. As you make progress through Bloomsday, a record of your persona's activities will be tracked and stored and made available as an automatically-generated version of Episode 10, "The Wandering Rocks". You'll also be able to view and save your own automatically generated story.

How Much Does This Cost?

Bloomsday Halifax is entirely free. If you end up going to any restaurants along the way, you might want to buy some food or drink, but that is up to you.

How Long Will This Take?

The activity in the book happens from 8am until approximately 3am the following morning. While you could do this in real-time, it does make for a very long day. The app will allow you to visit many of the locations at any time, so if you only have an hour or so you can still enjoy the activities. If you do visit the locations at the proper times, some extra content might be made available to you.

Will This Be Family-Friendly?

Ulysses was revolutionary in its frankness in describing all sorts of bodily functions, and dealing with themes of sexuality, including masochism, prostitution, sexual assault, and more. It frequently uses authentic street language, swearing, and blasphemy, and occasionally features some old-fashioned attitudes and language towards race. It has been banned from many countries due to its "obscene" content, some of which can still be shocking even in 2019.

That said, the app will not be sharing explicit material directly, but "thematic elements" will probably be unavoidable.

The book itself is a fairly challenging read - if you're old enough to understand the book, you're probably old enough to handle much of the content.

What Kind of Device Will I Need?

Current plans are for a native iOS app as well a mobile-friendly web-based app for those who can't use the native version. Depending on time and resources, there might also be a native Android app. The webapp will have the same features as the iOS app, but things like GPS tracking and connectivity are a bit easier to handle in a native app so the experience will likely be a bit smoother.

Is This Official? What If I Want To Do My Own Thing?

This is entirely a personal passion project and is not in any way connected to the Joyce estate, the city of Dublin, or any other organization. If you disagree with the choice of locations or activities, please feel free to celebrate Bloomsday in Halifax in your own way.

What's The Technology Behind This?

Bloomsday Halifax is built with the NowHere platform for time-and-location-based experiences. NowHere was originally developed for Zuppa Theatre's "This Is Nowhere" production in September 2018. It's a server-side CMS written in Ruby on Rails, communicating via JSON with various native JavaScript/HTML and native mobile clients.

What About Privacy? Are You Selling My Email?

This is an art project, not a marketing campaign. The only publicly-available information about your whereabouts and activity will show your selected Persona and not any other personally identifiying information about you. You will be able to opt out of sharing any of this publicly. The server software will be tracking your specific location and progress, but only during June 16, and any specific identifying information will only be used for quality control and support purposes. General aggregate and anonymized data may be used for data analysis and for technology demos but only by Shindig Digital Constructions Inc. or Zuppa Theatre Co. Data will NOT be shared with any other companies, organizations, or advertisers. Your email will be stored in our secured database as well as at MailChimp, but it will not be shared with any third party. You will be able to have your information completely removed on request.

Conversely, you are more than welcome to share your experience on social media using the "#bloomsdayhalifax" tag.

I Want To Write Something For The News / My Website About This

You can contact the creator Andrew Burke at or via the bloomsdayhfx Twitter or Facebook accounts.

Hey, Wasn't Leopold Bloom That Guy From The Producers?

Yes - and it shows Mel Brooks is better read than you'd expect! Trivia: Zero Mostel, who plays Max Bialystock in the movie, played Leopold Bloom in a theatrical adaptation of Episode 15 from the book.

What parallel courses did Bloom and Stephen follow returning?

Starting united both at normal walking pace from Beresford place they followed in the order named Lower and Middle Gardiner streets and Mountjoy square, west: then, at reduced pace, each bearing left, Gardiner's place by an inadvertence as far as the farther corner of Temple street: then, at reduced pace with interruptions of halt, bearing right, Park Street, north, as far as Cunard street. Approaching, disparate, at relaxed walking pace they crossed both the roundabout before the armoury diametrically, the chord in any circle being less than the arc which it subtends.

Of what did the duumvirate delibarate during their itinerary?

Music, literature, Ireland, Dublin, Paris, friendship, woman, prostitution, diet, the influence of gaslight or the light of arc and glowlamps on the growth of adjoining paraheliotropic trees, exposed corporation emergency dustbuckets, the Roman catholic church, ecclesiastical celibacy, the Irish nation, jesuit education, careers, the study of medicine, the past day, the maleficent influence of the presabbath, Stephen's collapse, iPhone Apps, the Global Positioning System, donair.