HALIFAX -- Nova Scotians can officially mark their calendars.

Starting next year, the third Monday in February will be known as Nova Scotia Heritage Day.

The new holiday will provide an opportunity to recognize a different significant figure or event in Nova Scotia's culture and history every year.

The first holiday will celebrate human rights pioneer Viola Desmond, while future Heritage Days will honour Africville in Halifax, the Mi'kmaq, politician Joseph Howe and artist Maud Lewis, among others.

The new holiday, announced earlier this year, was named by students from schools across the province as part of a naming campaign.

Heritage Day was among the submitted ideas, which were reviewed by a three-member panel.

The panel then made recommendations to Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan.