5 things to do for the Lunar New Year in Edmonton

The Year of the Ox is upon us, officially kicking off on Feb. 12. But even with the pandemic, there are things happening to help you usher in the new year.

A visit to the new Nine Dragon Wall, a University of Alberta art lecture and dumplings

Wing Choy, president of the Edmonton Chinese Garden Society, spends some time in the place that he considers to be restorative and tranquil. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

The Year of the Ox is upon us, officially kicking off on Feb. 12, and even during the pandemic, things are happening this month to help you usher in the new year. 

Stroll the Edmonton Chinese Garden and check out the new Nine Dragon Wall

If you're looking for an escape, Wing Choy believes there is no better place to commune with nature than the Edmonton Chinese Garden, located in Louise McKinney Riverfront Park just off Grierson Hill. 

"We are the gem of the river valley," says Choy, president of the Edmonton Chinese Garden Society, established in 2000. 

Since the garden opened in 2007, the not-for-profit society has added a friendship gate, monument, zodiac statues — and now a Nine Dragon Wall. 

'It's one of the biggest dragon walls in North America'

3 years ago
Duration 1:54
Wing Choy, president of the Edmonton Chinese Garden Society, gives us a tour of the new Nine Dragon Wall in Edmonton, Alta.

You can see more from the garden on Our Edmonton on Sunday at 1 p.m. and 11 a.m. Monday on CBC TV and CBC GEM.

"It is one of the biggest dragon walls in North America. It's magnificent!" says Choy.

At 17 metres long, five metres high and weighing 106,000 kilograms, the wall — built in the summer of 2020 — is an imposing addition to the garden. 

The wall itself cost $500,000 but Choy says they're now trying to raise $200,000 for the roof.

It's always free to visit this outdoor space, which Choy believes offers tranquillity, good energy and feng shui, especially from the top of the bridge in the middle of the rock pond.

Online family activities 

You can expect online games, virtual cooking classes and special cultural performances from noon until 5 p.m. on Feb. 6 and 7 as part of Lunar New Year celebrations hosted by Kingsway Mall. The event, presented by the Chinese Graduate Association of Alberta and the Edmonton Chinese Bilingual Education Association, is normally held in person but has adapted its activities as a result of COVID-19.

This gold silk tapestry weave Tibetan chuba, or a traditional dress, is an example of the fabric art to be discussed at an upcoming University of Alberta lecture. (Mactaggart Art Collection)

Take in an online lecture about Demystifying Dragons 

As part of this year's celebrations, Isabel (Pi-fen) Chueh, curator of the Mactaggart Art Collection, will break down the symbolism and use of dragon patterns on textiles in the collection. Participants need to register in advance for this online Zoom lecture set for Feb. 12 at 2:30 p.m. 

Learn fun facts and local history throughout February 

The Chinatown Transformation Collaborative Society will be posting fun facts, details and local connections to the not- for-profit's Facebook page as well as running contests in honour of the Lunar New Year. Cultural tidbits will include things like the origin and order of the zodiac and characteristics associated with each year. The ox, for example, is connected with honesty, dependability and determination.

A sampling of dumplings that Cheryl Wang and her family will serve up for Lunar New Year. (Cheryl Wang)

Food is at the heart of the festivities, so get cooking

"We cannot live without dumplings to celebrate the new year," says Cheryl Wang, who has already started cooking to be ready. 

For Wang, it's a point of family pride to be working from scratch and she says cooking can be a welcome outlet and distraction, especially now. 

"This year has been difficult, due to the pandemic, most people are staying at home."

Wang suggests logging online to learn how to make traditional dishes in your own kitchen, then share a meal virtually with friends. A number of local restaurants are also offering tasty options for takeout or delivery. 

She says no matter whether you make your own or order in, when it comes to dumplings, the sauce makes all the difference. 

"The ginger, vinegar, brown sugar and a little soya sauce, and if you like some spice, you add some pepper in," she says. That said, her two-year-old son Hanson Yi, only dips in one thing — ketchup.

Lunar New Year Virtual Feast

3 years ago
Duration 6:06
Our Edmonton host Adrienne Lamb gets a taste of food and culture from Cheryl Wang, Douglas Lim and Elaine Yip.


Adrienne Lamb


Adrienne Lamb is the host and producer of Our Edmonton featured weekly on CBC TV. She served for several years as CBC Radio's national arts reporter in Edmonton. Prior to moving to Alberta, Adrienne worked at CBC in Ontario and New Brunswick. Adrienne is a graduate of Western University with a degree in English and Anthropology and a Masters in Journalism.