The Rat Pack: Chinese New Year at Tullie House


Saturday 25th January

10.00am – 5.00pm


Families will get a taste of Chinese culture as part of the Chinese New Year celebration taking place at Tullie House Museum and Carlisle City Centre.

This Saturday 25 January, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery is marking the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Rat with a day of celebrations. Between 10.00am – 4.00pm, there will be a wealth of entertainment for all ages, include Kung Fu and acrobatic performances, drumming workshops, traditional Chinese crafts, storytelling and face painting. There will even be an appearance from Pom Pom, the 8ft Panda. The event has been supported by Carlisle City Council and Lancaster University Confucius Institute.

Throughout the day visitors will get a first look at ‘Treasures of China’, a major new exhibition unveiling the splendour of almost 3,000 years of imperial culture, open until 26th April. Most of the collections are on loan from the Oriental Museum at Durham University and it’s set to be a spectacular exhibition attracting locals and tourists to the town centre.

For 2020 the focus of Chinese zodiac tradition will be the Rat. The last Year of the Rat was in 2008, when the successful Beijing Olympics took place. Although the Rat is not so loved in the West, in Chinese tradition the Rat is the first amongst all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the position would be decided by the order in which the animals arrived at his party. The Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride. Then, as they arrived at the finish line, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox, gaining first place. In Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth and surplus. Because of their reproduction rate, married couples also prayed to them for children.

A Chinese New Year parade will leave Tullie House at 1.00pm, making its way through the Cathedral grounds and into the City Centre before returning to Castle Street. Traditional Chinese food will also be available during the day at the café within Tullie House.

Anna Smalley, Head of Collections and Engagement at Tullie House Museum has been working on the project: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Lancaster University’s Confucius Institute and Carlisle City Council to showcase a unique day of performances and activities to celebrate Chinese New Year.  This is a great opportunity for families to learn more about the culture of China and engage in some fantastic activities. It’s our third year running this festival and we are so pleased that, with support from our partners, we can stage this special event once again.”

Lancaster University Confucius Institute, who has been working in partnership with Tullie House Museum, is pleased to support the Chinese New Year Festival and commented “新年快樂 (xīn nián kuài lè)!”

Carlisle City Cllr Stephen Higgs, Portfolio holder for Culture, Heritage and Leisure, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting Tullie House’s Chinese New Year celebration. There is a packed programme of events planned and lots to get involved in. Join in the festivities and learn more about the Chinese culture and traditions.”

Chinese New Year begins at Tullie House Museum at 10.00am on Saturday 25 January. All activities and entertainments are free, although normal museum admission applies. Booking is available and recommended for certain workshops, call the Box Office on 01228 618700 to secure your place.

This event has been kindly supported by Carlisle City Council and Lancaster University Confucius Institute.