Top 10 South Australian Christmas traditions

Some Christmas traditions can only be experienced in South Australia. Where else would you find the kind of nostalgia the West End Brewery Christmas Lights evoke every year?

And forget handfuls of cherries. Thanks to our Adelaide Hills orchardists we eat the favourite Christmas fruit by the bucketload, leaving our lips stained purple throughout the rest of summer.

We camp out at Elder Park in the hot sun to get a top spot for the carols, and we pile in the car and head to Lobethal, feeling just as impressed by the twinkling lights as we did when we were a kid.

Christmas in SA is full of events, markets, activities, and traditions that carry on through generations. Here’s a few of the oldies but goodies you’d be a Grinch to miss.

1. Lights of Lobethal

The small Adelaide Hills town of Lobethal is pretty sleepy, except for in December.

Much of the town decorates its businesses, shopfronts and houses in twinkling lights and Christmas arrays creating the largest community lights display in the southern hemisphere.

It’ll take a couple of hours to get around the whole town, and be sure not to miss Bill and Peg Chartres’s house on the hill of Christmas Lane. Yes, Christmas Lane. The Chartres’s have been displaying lights since the 1980s, with lights, toys and figurines scattered throughout their property.

2. West End Brewery Lights

A child must not reach adulthood without viewing the quirks of the West End Brewery Christmas Displays on the banks of the River Torrens in Thebarton.

You’ll find a nativity scene, a ferris wheel, a water wheel, and Santa and his reindeers among other festive characters and displays.

This free community event is popular with young families, with the lights turning on at dusk each evening until the end of December.

The West End Brewery Lights are a must-visit at least once for every South Australian. Photo by Clive Boyce.

3. Carols by Candlelight 

A classic event for Christmas carol lovers, the annual carols event in Elder Park is the perfect place to belt out festive favourites.

Families serious about the QBE Insurance Carols by Candlelight will arrive early in the day to snag a spot as close to the stage as they can, settling in with picnic rugs, snacks and oodles of enthusiasm.

Brand South Australia has once again partnered with QBE Insurance Carols by Candlelight to offer one lucky person the chance to win a festive hamper full of local products to the value of more than $5000. Enter here.

4. A South Australian seafood feast

Spencer Gulf king prawns, Coffin Bay oysters and southern rock lobster – there’s no shortage of seafood offerings here in SA.

When you buy local seafood you’re supporting SA’s sustainable seafood and aquaculture industries. Ferguson’s Australia, Cappo Seafood, and Angelakis Bros are just a few local names who will sort you out in the seafood department.

Fresh local seafood is a must at Christmas. Photo courtesy of Adelaide Central Market.

5. Beach cricket

Wearing off that seafood feast by playing a good old-fashioned game of beach cricket is almost a Christmas rite of passage in SA. Our state has some of the best white sandy beaches in the country, from the Eyre Peninsula along to the Yorke Peninsula, and Fleurieu.

Many of our coastal towns come alive during summer and especially around the holiday period. The livelihood of their businesses relies on the festive season trade – another reason to keep it local and holiday in your own backyard.

6. Hahndorf Christkindlmarkt

Not yet a longstanding tradition (as it’s only been around for about six years) this European-style Christmas market in the German town of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills is well on its way to becoming an annual favourite.

Held in the town’s main street, the Hahndorf Christkindlmarkt brings the magic touches of a European Christmas market to Australia, allowing visitors to wander beneath twinkling fairy lights, shop for handicrafts and enjoy a glass of Glühwein.

The Hahndorf Christkindlmarkt is on December 14–16.

7. Santa’s Magic Cave

Everyone has at least one embarrassing photo of themselves as a child with Santa.

The jolly man in red can be found at the Magic Cave at David Jones, Rundle Mall, where little ones can put in their last-minute wish lists and pose for that classic shot to be cherished for years to come.

The Magic Cave is a bit of an Adelaide icon, launching in former department store John Martin’s in 1896. Aside from Santa and his elves, other fairy tale characters and other glitzy displays can be explored.

8. Victoria Square Christmas tree

You probably won’t find a Christmas tree taller than this one. The giant Christmas tree in the heart of the city in Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga will dazzle with thousands of lights once it’s officially switched on at 8.30pm on December 1.

It’s the city’s Christmas centrepiece and with Victoria Square redeveloped in recent years to include more public furniture and greenery, it’s a place you can hang around and take in with sparkling delight.

The tallest Christmas tree in Adelaide can be found in Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga. Photo by Clive Boyce.

9. Christmas pageants

Christmas pageants and nativity scenes have been around for donkeys’ years and nearly every town has one. It’s a time when the glue guns get a real work out in the making of impressive of Christmas floats and homemade costumes.

Local businesses get on board, as do local schools, sporting groups and community organisations, parading around town and down main streets to kick-start the silly season.

The man in red always makes an appearance and the bitumen is always covered in chalk drawings by the end.

Aside from the big pageant in Adelaide in November, Christmas pageants roll out across our larger metropolitan suburbs to the smallest of country towns.

10. Adelaide Central Market 

This thriving hub is one of the country’s largest fresh produce markets, and right before Christmas it gets crazy.

The stalls are packed with local produce including fruit and veggies, cheeses, meats, seafood, baked goods, smallgoods and other treats needed for your festive household celebrations.

December through to February is the time for stone fruit including juicy, plump cherries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries that will make for the perfect Christmas pavlova. The market’s opening hours are extended in the lead up to Christmas, check out the website for more information.

Header image by Clive Boyce of Photo Morsels.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Give a gift that makes a difference this Christmas

‘Tis the season of giving, but instead of presents why not celebrate this Christmas with a gift that gives back to fellow South Aussies?

This festive season Brand South Australia is proud to show its support for some of the state’s leading charitable organisations by encouraging people to visit Shop South Australia and donate to its member charities and foundations.

Members of the public can visit Shop South Australia’s newly created ‘Donate to Charity’ category and choose from more than 40 of Brand South Australia’s charity members to gift a direct donation.

Shop South Australia is a free platform allowing users to link directly to the charity’s own website to complete their donation, enduring all funds go to the chosen foundation.

Donators can choose from charities across a range of sectors including animals, arts, children, community support, environment and health.

Brand South Australia’s general manager corporate partnerships, Nicola Martin, says the not-for-profit organisation is pleased to support its member charities this festive season.

“We have over 40 charities and foundations that are part of our membership program, and hope that people’s generous donations will help support the vital work that they do,” she says.

To donate to charity click here.


Membership and Sponsorship with Brand South Australia offers unique business opportunities to connect with significant South Australian businesses and industries.

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12 ways to choose SA in Rundle Mall this Christmas

Christmas is a time for giving and with the festive season officially upon us, it’s time to do the rounds and buy something special for our loved ones.

There’s no better time to choose local than the lead up to Christmas, and with Adelaide’s premier shopping precinct launching its festive decorations last week, Rundle Mall is set to sparkle.

So give back to SA this Christmas by supporting local businesses in Rundle Mall when embarking on your Christmas gift hunt. When you choose SA you’re supporting local families, jobs and the future of our small businesses.

Here are 12 ways to choose SA in Rundle Mall before the big man in red visits at Christmas.

1. Go nuts at Charlesworth

This long-standing family business has been around in SA since 1934. The fresh nuts are cooked on site and a number of nut, dried fruit, chocolate and confectionery gift baskets, boxes and platters are sure to be a winner around the table on Christmas Day. Charlesworth also have bake-at-home packs of Christmas cake, muffins, pudding and continental panforté.

2. Indulge at Haigh’s

Australia’s oldest family-owned chocolate company is a must-visit every year, because what is Christmas without something a little special? Located on the historic Beehive Corner, Haigh’s Chocolates has an extensive Christmas collection of boxed and loose choccies and truffles, advent calendars, gift tins, chocolate filled stockings, bon bons and hampers. Editor’s note: one can’t go by the devilishly moreish berrychocs and the dark ginger chocolate bars.

3. Buy something you won’t find elsewhere

Regent Arcade gift shop Have you met Charlie is full of wares made by independent artists and makers from around the world, with many of them from SA. You’ll find gifts by local makers Ettie Ink, Kindred Self, One Seed, Tea 4 Two and more. While many of the wares will delight the ladies, you’ll also find gifts for blokes, babies and the home.

4. Visit Australia’s largest speciality hat shop

Adelaide Hatters has been around for more than 25 years and is the largest hat shop in the country, spread across two floors in Adelaide Arcade. The store stocks a number of classic hat brands as well as hard-to-find speciality items. Whether it’s a funky sunhat, stunning headpiece, or a stylish cap – there’s a hat for every occasion, as they say.

5. Discover ‘every bear that ever there was’

Located in Regent Arcade, The Teddy Bear Shop has been home to Australia’s largest range of bears for almost 30 years. You’ll find rare collector bears and popular classics that make a memorable gift for little ones of friends or family members. Discover your inner child while browsing the bears big and small.

6. Check out the local produce window display

Take a wander along the mall and you’ll notice a dozen different window displays scattered throughout, each one individually crafted with a different theme. Behind one of the windows is a beautiful festival table setting featuring SA produce such as Haigh’s, Woodside Cheese Wrights, Riverland citrus fruit and Charlesworth Nuts. We won’t give the secret away on the other 11 displays, check them out for yourself!

What’s behind the beautiful local produce window display.

7. Get party season ready at BNKR

Find a knock-out party dress at BNKR, home to labels produced by Adelaide-based Australian Fashion Labels, including C/MEO Collective, Finders Keepers, Keepsake and The Fifth Label. You’ll find stand out and versatile pieces that are on-trend, but most importantly, designed here in Adelaide.

8. Choose chocolates almost too good to eat

Just Bliss Chocolates are hand-painted, delicate creations boxed up beautifully and will make a perfect gift for the luxurious chocolate lover. The store stocks chocolate pralines, truffles, rocky road, chocolate blocks and chocolate spoons, as well as complete gift boxes. Flavours include gin and tonic, Barossa shiraz, whiskey caramel, espresso martini!

9. Buy bath bombs so delicious you’ll wanna eat ’em

Oh Deer Sugar in Regent Arcade is the non-edible bakery handcrafting food for the skin. Launched by “two vegan girls” Sharni and Nikki, these bath products replicate our favourite desserts, waffles, chocolate blocks, and Turkish delights in the form of bath bombs and body scrubs. The Christmas range is inspired Christmas favourites including gingerbread men, candy canes, and even The Grinch! All products are vegan, ingredients ethically source and packaging recyclable.

A giant gingerbread bath bomb.

10. Brew a tea from T BAR

Know someone mad about tea? We bet that at T BAR, you’ll find them a tea they’ve never tried. T BAR stocks 120 blends and varieties sourced from all over the world including loose leaf black teas, beautiful green teas, herbal teas and white teas. T BAR was co-founded by Peggy Veloudos in 1991 and was Adelaide’s first tea salon.

11. Find your beauty fix 

Hebe & Co in Regent Arcade is a skin care store with a range of cruelty free and vegan products, many of them SA and Australian made. You’ll find organic body wash with scents of mandarin, patchouli, geranium and cedarwood, bright liquid to matte lipsticks, breathable nail polishes, natural perfumes and makeup palettes.

Editor’s note: one must treat the hands to Yard Skincare’s hand cream (a favourite is the mandarin and kunzea with maracuja oil) stocked at Hebe & Co. It’s made in the Adelaide Hills from a concentrated blend of antioxidants and plant actives and will satisfy the fussiest of hand cream obsessors!

12. Fill up at Soonta

Kill off the hunger pangs by choosing a local food vendor in the mall, Soonta being a good choice. This year marks the 10th anniversary for the Vietnamese eatery which does a mean banh mi, crunchy salad bowls, delicious noodle and rice bowls and smaller eats such as cold rolls and spring rolls.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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A touch of a European Christmas in Hahndorf

You won’t find many crackling wood fires, snow scattered rooftops or mugs of eggnog during the festive season in South Australia.

But venture down the southern end of Hahndorf’s main street in the Adelaide Hills and you might just catch a glimpse of a European Christmas.

Since 2012 C3 Church Adelaide Hills Pastors Bruce and Julie Williams have brought the magic of a European Christmas market to Hahndorf – Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement.

The Hahndorf Christkindlmarkt, now in its sixth year, has drawn a total of 90,000 visitors to the popular tourist strip to enjoy a glass of Glühwein and wander among an array of handicrafts.

The Hahndorf Christkindlmarkt captures the essence of a traditional European Christmas market with twinkling lights and bespoke offerings.

Run by volunteers from the C3 Church Adelaide Hills, the Hahndorf Christkindlmarkt will return for three nights from Friday, December 15.

Bruce and Julie were inspired to bring a touch of Europe to Hahndorf upon visiting traditional Christmas markets in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic.

“They were remarkable, but probably the most influential was Munich,” says Bruce.

“We started to think about things we could do at home and it dawned on us that we’re in the oldest German town in Australia.

“We put the idea of a Christmas market out to the church and we knew that it would take many volunteer hours to pull it together.”

Pastors Bruce and Julie Williams in traditional German attire.

Daylight saving and the Adelaide Hills’ breezy summertime climate were perfect for an outdoor Christmas market featuring displays of handicrafts, baked goods, artwork and gifts beneath a display of twinkling fairy lights.

During its first year, the Hahndorf Christkindlmarkt had stallholder vacancies, but now there’s a waiting list.

The market has also expanded its footprint by spilling out onto Auricht Road, which closes to traffic for the duration of the event.

The event received recognition from the Mount Barker Council recently when it was crowned the 2016 Community Event of the Year.

Bruce says many Hahndorf traders have embraced the thousands of visitors to the town by keeping their doors open past regular trading hours.

The C3 Church Band will perform carols at 9.15pm every night.

He says the true meaning of Christmas was still evident through the singing of Christmas carols and a nativity scene at the market.

“We believe in the message of Christmas in the birth of Christ and that was still a strong element in the European context as well,” Bruce says.

“The point (of the market) is not to try and get people to the church, there’s no pressure, we just want people to have fun.

“It’s a joyful and happy place.”

The market is expected to attract 30,000 people across three nights.

A licensed area allows visitors to enjoy Lobethal Bierhaus brews and Lobethal Road wines, as well as traditional German-style mulled wine, Glühwein.

Bruce says the majority of stallholders are South Australian, however, the market experiences demand from exhibitors across the country.

The Hahndorf Christkindlmarkt is on Friday December 15, 5 – 10pm, Saturday 4pm – 10pm, and Sunday, 4pm –10pm.

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Top 7 local designers to hunt down at Bowerbird Design Market

The Bowerbird Design Market kicks off tomorrow and will see more than 170 independent creatives, designers and craftspeople spread their wares across the Adelaide Showground.

From locally made homewares, jewellery, art and ceramics, we’ve picked out seven SA stalls worth a stop.

Three day festival, running from November 24–26, allows shoppers to meet the makers while enjoying local, artisan eats and beverages.

When: Friday, November 24, 4pm–9pm. Saturday, November 25 and Sunday 26 November, 10am–5pm.

Where: Adelaide Showground, Wayville Pavilion.

Cost: Adults $5, children (12 and under) free.

1. The Butcher Byrd
There’s nothing more nostalgic than the smell of that battered but as soft as butter leather handbag you’ve had for years.

These totes and satchels are designed, drafted, cut, sewn and finished at an Adelaide workshop converted from an old butcher’s shop.

A post shared by Sasha Carroll (@thebutcherbyrd) on

// Dana Kinter Art With a Gorman collaboration under her belt, Dana is one to watch on the SA fashion scene.

The Fleurieu Peninsula designer has now collaborated with Goolwa design house Kitty Came Home on a cute range of bi-fold clutches.

A post shared by dana kinter (@danakinter) on


3. WineStains
Based in the Barossa Valley, WineStains make homewares out of recycled wine barrels.

From cheeseboards, to coasters, wine racks and breakfast trays, these beautifully crafted pieces feature unique markings and wine stains.

PHOTO: Zoe Campbell Photography & Design.

PHOTO: Zoe Campbell Photography & Design.

4. Etikette Candles
A candle featuring a blend of fruits, spices and a hint of brandy sauce? It’s the Lobethal Christmas Lights all over.

These beautiful hand poured soy wax candles will make you swoon with scents inspired by areas of SA – including the Fleurieu and Yorke peninsulas.

5. Georgia Walker Designs 
What is the festive season without a ‘cha cha’ earring? Adelaide-based Georgia Walker is your go-to girl.

These swinging creations are big, bold and “the best fun your ears can have”.

A post shared by @georgiawalkerdesigns on

// Truth Cosmetics

Nothing but the truth is what you’ll get with this natural cosmetics line formulated and manufactured in SA.

Truth products contain all the yummy stuff – macadamia, jojoba, rice bran oil and shea butter blended with essential oils and extracts – and no nasties.

PHOTO: Truth Cosmetics Australia Facebook.

PHOTO: Truth Cosmetics Australia Facebook.

7. Rhicreative Stationery nerds will love this boutique range of greeting cards, calendars, gift wrap, art prints and well … stationery.

Designed and produced on 100% recycled material by Adelaidian Rhiannon Clohesy, these stationery pieces will dress up Christmas pressies so they’re almost too good to unwrap.

A post shared by Rhicreative (@rhicreative) on


We’d love you to share your own local purchases with us on Facebook #ichoosesa

Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our State by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.

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