See & Do

A guide to Lunar New Year in Adelaide

Lunar New Year (or Spring Festival) is just around the corner, which means Adelaideans (along with many others all around the world) will soon be ringing in the Year of the Rat. Unlike the recent New Year’s Eve celebration on 31 December 2019, Lunar New Year follows the lunisolar calendar with the first day of the new year beginning on 25 January 2020.

Even if Lunar New Year is not a part of your cultural celebrations, everyone is welcome to enjoy the many events and customs that accompany it. If you’re wanting to join in on the festivities but aren’t too sure how, or where to start, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of our recommendations on how to ring in the Year of the Rat in Adelaide.

Host a reunion dinner

Adelaide lunar new year guide hotpot

Hot-pot dinners are a great way to bring everyone together

Reunion dinners are one of the most important moments of Lunar New Year. Held on the eve of the new year – 24 January 2020, the reunion dinner is typically a big feast for families to come together and reflect on the past year. The dinners can take on different forms, such as a banquet style, or in some South East Asian cultures, a hot-pot dinner. Whatever the dining style, the significance of the night is for everyone to get together.

Watch a cultural performance

Lunar New Year Lion Dance

A child petting a lion during a lion dance performance

Rundle Mall paints the pedestrian mall strip red during the Lunar New Year with cultural performances, and workshops for kids and families. Look out for lion dances, tai chi performances, traditional dances, calligraphy workshops, and traditional music performances. 

You can celebrate with the Adelaide Vietnamese community at the Adelaide Tet Festival, held on February 1 and 2 at Bonython Park / Tulya Wardli (Park 27).

Rock it in red

Unless you’re new to the festival, you’ll know that almost everything related to Lunar New Year is coloured red: lanterns, paper cuttings, calligraphy paper, and people. But why? Well, it’s because red is a symbol of happiness, and prosperity, and has the ability to ward off evil spirits, while bringing good luck. Get festive this Lunar New Year by adorning something red – lipstick, a cap, socks – your choice.

Eat deliciously auspicious food


Dumplings symbolises wealth and fortune during lunar new year

What’s a festival without festive foods? Certain foods are eaten (sometimes just more than usual) during Lunar New Year, purely for their symbolic meaning. Here’s a few favourites:

  • Dumplings = wealth
  • Glutinous rice cake = advancement in life
  • Mandarins = wealth
  • Pineapples = good fortune
  • Fish = abundance
  • Noodles = longevity

While these are the usual dishes, there are some dishes that are distinct to regions. For example, some South East Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year with an auspicious salad, known as prosperity too, or yu sheng/ yee sang/ lou hei. Make your own Prosperity Toss salad with this recipe, and learn the story behind it.

Pick up a red envelope with lucky money

Adelaide living lunar new year rat year web

Red envelopes are available for collection at City of Adelaide

Red envelopes are a traditional gift handed out during Lunar New Year by elders (or married couples) to the younger generations. They contain money though the amount is not significant. What’s important is the red envelope itself, as it symbolises the giving of happiness and blessings. Each year, the City of Adelaide hands out red envelopes as part of the festive celebrations. Collect a red envelope at the City of Adelaide customer service desk at 25 Pirie Street this year.

Attend the Lunar New Year street party

Adelaide lunar new year moonta st

The annual Lunar New Year street party on Moonta and Gouger Street

Each year, Adelaide celebrates the festive season with an unmissable street party on Gouger Street and 2020 marks the 17th Chinatown Adelaide Lunar New Year street party. For one day, a section of this popular city street closes to car traffic to celebrate Lunar New Year. Join in the fun this year on 1 February, and experience live music, market stalls, pop-up food stalls, and of course, lion dances.

Go visiting

Adelaide lunar new year guide people together

Lunar New Year is a time to catch up with family and friends

At its heart, Lunar New Year is a time for family and friends to come together. Take some time over the period of the festival to catch up with relatives, or friends. When visiting, it’s always a good idea to not go empty handed. Some ideas for gifts are fruits (mandarins, pineapples, apples are auspicious choices), tea (of any kind), or sweets - to symbolise a sweet life.

Attend a Chinese music concert

Chinese new year chamber music concert 900
photo-icon Adelaide Festival Centre
View image source

Chinese New Year Chamber Music Concert

Listen to a fusion of traditional Chinese instruments and western music elements by the School of Chinese Music and Arts at the Adelaide Festival Centre. With an ensemble of musicians playing the erhu (Chinese violin), guzheng (Chinese harp), dizi (Chinese flute), and ruan (Chinese guitar), be entertained with this cross-cultural experience. 

Book your tickets here