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 Ox. Unlike the recent New Year’s Eve celebration on 31 December, Lunar New Year follows the lunisolar calendar with the first day of the new year beginning on 11 February 2021.

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 Ox 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 – 11 February 2021, 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 on February 19 to celebrate Lunar New Year. Look out for the famous lion dance and don't miss the God of Fortune handing out lucky red envelopes. 

Rock it in red

Lunar New Year 2020 dancers red costumes

get festive 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

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

God of Fortune

the god of fortune will hand out Red envelopes in rundle mall on 19 february

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. Find the God of Fortune in Rundle Mall handing out red envelopes as part of the festive celebrations.

Attend the Lunar New Year street party

Lunar New Year 2020 dancers red fans

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

Each year, Adelaide celebrates the festive season with an unmissable street party in Chinatown on Gouger Street. For one day, a section of this popular city street closes to car traffic to celebrate Lunar New Year. This year will be a little different with social distancing but will still have the same fun and colour of years past. See exhibitors and entertainers showcasing traditions through art and food on 20 February 2021.

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.