Cambridge Veg Fest

Cambridge Veg Fest is happening from 13 – 21 July with free events and activities across the city, bringing the whole community together to celebrate local and seasonal vegetables.  For Cambridge Sustainable Food, this marks the finale to their year long “Veg Cities” campaign, aimed at inspiring us to eat more vegetables and to reduce our intake of meat and dairy.

Asparagus at Cambridge Market
Bundles of asparagus at Cambridge Market

You’ll find a wealth of veggie based events for all the family, including:

Be an organic farmer for a day!  Help out on a local vegetable farm, learn about growing your own veggies and take home some free produce.

The Mini Mobile Schools Vegetable Garden created by St Paul’s Primary School and Cambridge University Botanic Garden.  This will be popping up at various venues around the city.  It’s a vegetable show garden that teaches about vegetable families, crop rotation, composting  and companion planting.

A Geo Cache Veggie Treasure Hunt along the Chisholm Trail.

Foodcycle Community Meals  A free three course vegetarian meal (a vegan option will also be available) created from surplus food that would otherwise have gone to waste.

Rock Allotments Open Morning and Abundance Bring and Share  Find out how to get an allotment and grow your own veg.  Bring and share produce, plants and garden tools plus find out more about volunteering in community gardens.

Veg @ The Edge: Pay as you Feel Community Meal  Enjoy a meal made from surplus vegetables at The Edge Cafe, home to Cambridge’s only Community Fridge.

Farmers’ Market and Town Meal Family Day Out  Celebrate the city’s diverse food scene at the Cambridge Museum of Technology.

Tomatoes at Cambridge Market
Tons of tomatoes at Cambridge Market

For full details of all the events at this wonderful celebration of all things veggie, take a look at the website and keep an eye on the Facebook page too.

http://www.cambridgesustainablefood.org

Facebook:  @cambridgefood

 

Eco Living Festival Cambridge

Eco Living Festival Cambridge returns to Lion Yard Shopping Centre on 6 July with a pop up Eco Lifestyle Advice Centre where there’ll be talks, workshops and masterclasses aimed at helping us make simple, practical choices and changes to create a lower impact on the planet and to achieve a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Eco Living Festival Cambridge logo
Image credit: Eco Living Festival Cambridge

Festival Founder, Caroline-Shaheera Asante, spent her early childhood at her grandparents’ pineapple plantation in Guyana, growing up just naturally living a sustainable and zero waste lifestyle.  Post university in Canada, Caroline built a TV and radio career at the BBC but a trip to the Caribbean for a family reunion in 2014 was to change her path.

Caroline Shaheera Asante
Image credit: Shane Asante-O’Neill

Stunned by the evidence of climate change in action, by the coastal erosion, the destruction of mangrove forests and the amount of plastic debris on the beaches, Caroline returned home and took an MSc in Sustainability and Environmental Science at Anglia Ruskin University here in Cambridge.  Caroline started to work on the idea of creating an Eco Living Festival so when David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 natural history series, screened in 2017, brought the conversation about plastic pollution to the fore and spurred a zero waste movement around the world, she went ahead with the first Festival in September last year.  The success of this inaugural event has led to Lion Yard Shopping Centre once again providing retail space for the pop up and to the involvement of new supporters, including Anglian Water.

Eco Bricks
Eco Bricks  Image credit:  Tina McGrane

This year’s Eco Living Festival theme is “How to Achieve a Low-Impact or Zero Waste Lifestyle @Home – Bathroom and Kitchen Eco-Hack.”  Eco beauty workshops include making your own fresh cleansers and kids’ bath bombs with Lush and there’ll be talks on simple product swaps you can make to prevent environmental pollution.  See how crisp packets, sweet wrappers and garden compost bags can be turned into Eco Bricks and learn vintage zero waste kitchen skills as you make food wrap, cleaning products and other household essentials the way our grandparents used to.  All the events are free, some are drop-in and some need pre-registration.

Wave of Waste Dress - Linda Eco Design
Wave of Waste Dress  Image credit: Linda Eco Design

In what promises to be a very eye catching display on the upper atrium of Lion Yard Shopping Centre, eco fashion designer Linda Thomas will create the Ocean Waste Dresses Installation featuring four dresses made from waste found in the sea and along the shoreline, including surf bodyboards and old “ghost” fishing nets.

To read more about Eco Living Festival Cambridge and to make bookings, take a look at the website.

http://www.cambridgeecolivingfestival.uk

Cambridge Beer Festival

The tents are going up on Jesus Green ….. it’s time for the 46th annual Cambridge Beer Festival which runs from 20 – 25 May.  Festival Organiser Anthony Cox downed tools to chat to me about the UK’s oldest beer festival, brought to the city by CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale).

Cambridge Beer Festival
Image credit: Cambridge Beer Festival

A core team of 30 people start to plan the Festival in December.  “We’ve got all the beer ordered by the end of March,” Anthony tells me, “and then set up and take down each last a week either side of the Festival as we build the site from scratch”.  The beer arrives several days before the Festival opens so that it can rest and settle while the site is readied to welcome around 40,000 thirsty visitors over six days.

You’ll find over 200 beers from across the UK with brewery bars, staffed by the brewers, offering keg and cask beers.  The Key Keg Bar gives a chance to compare and contrast key keg and cask beers, the same beer stored two different ways, while the International Bar showcases beers from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and America.

Cambridge Beer Festival
Image credit: Cambridge Beer Festival

But it’s not just about the beer!  The Cider Bar will feature more than 80 ciders and perries, all English and many from East Anglian producers, while the Wine and Mead Bar offers English wines in a variety of styles alongside mead, a drink made by fermenting honey and adding botanicals, from UK producers.

And you won’t go hungry either.  The CAMRA Cheese Counter has a selection of bread and cheese, scotch eggs, pork pies and pickles.  Food trucks parked up in the garden area will offer fish and chips, pizza, curry, falafel and vegetarian food, burgers, hog roast, doughnuts, cake and coffee.

 

Cambridge Beer Festival
Image credit: Cambridge Beer Festival

New for this year is the CAMRA run Learning and Discovery Centre, offering tutored beer tastings and an informal area where you can drop in, chat to the experts and pick their brains about all things beer.  The Family Tent welcomes children accompanied by a responsible adult and on the Saturday will feature a brass band, jugglers, face painting and other activities for kids.

Lunchtime sessions at the Festival are free entry and there’s a modest entry fee for evening sessions.  You pay a small deposit for your glass (glasses this year have been branded to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landings) which you can either take away with you as a memento or hand back as you leave.  Or better still, if you return your glass to the Arthur Rank Hospice stand, they will get your deposit back ….. a brilliant way of raising funds to support the Hospice’s invaluable work in the city.

Cambridge Beer Festival
Image credit: Cambridge Beer Festival

Over 400 volunteers are involved in the Festival and more are always welcome.  Volunteer roles range from helping to set up and take down the infrastructure, arranging tables and seating, manning the glass and food counters, staffing bars, stewarding and, of course, looking after all that beer!  Even just an hour or two of your time makes a real difference at this busy event.  You don’t need to be a CAMRA member to volunteer, you’ll be given full training and your reward comes in the form of food and drink.

Take a look at the website for opening times, details of the Festival beer list and more.

http://www.cambridgebeerfestival.com

Cambridge Literary Festival – Spring 2019

The Box Office is now open for Cambridge Literary Festival which runs from 5 – 7 April, bringing together novelists, scientists, politicians, broadcasters, campaigners and thinkers in lively conversation and engaged debate.

Cambridge Literary Festival logo

You’ll find a wealth of new fiction, world literature, memoir and more as well as a fabulous children’s programme which includes “Happy Birthday, Elmer!”, an interactive story time to celebrate everybody’s favourite multicoloured elephant.

Cambridge Literary Festival
Image credit: Chris Boland

From the New Statesman Debate, “This house believes identity politics is an impediment to progress”, to afternoon tea at the University Arms Hotel with broadcaster and author Jenni Murray, the Spring Festival has something for everyone.

For the full Festival line up and to book tickets, head to  www.cambridgeliteraryfestival.com

To read more about the Cambridge Literary Festival and its founder, Cathy Moore, click here

Cambridge Science Festival 2019

Cambridge Science Festival is celebrating its 25th year and runs from 11 – 24 March, this year exploring the theme of “Discovery”.  Hosting over 350 events, it will investigate a range of issues that affect our world today, from challenges around climate change policy, improving safety and quality in healthcare and adolescent mental health and will take a look at what the next 25 years holds for us.

There’s a packed schedule with events for all ages, most of which are free and which range from  debates, talks, exhibitions, workshops, interactive activities, films, comedy and performances, all held in lecture theatres, museums, cafés and galleries around the city.

Cambridge Science Festival
Image credit: Dan Clarke

An enthusiastic audience clocks up over 60,000 visits to Festival events each year to explore the world of science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine.  Run by the University of Cambridge, the Festival draws together independent organisations as well as University departments, centres and museums.

Cambridge Science Festival
Image credit: Cambridge Philosophical Society

Significant scientific milestones to celebrate in 2019 include the 200th anniversary of Cambridge Philosophical Society (Cambridge’s oldest scientific society) and 150 years since the publication of the modern Periodic Table.  This year’s Cambridge Gravity lecture will be presented by Sir Gregory Winter, a molecular biologist and 2018 Nobel Laureate, whose research has led to antibody therapies for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Cambridge Science Festival
Image credit: Jacqueline Garget

Events for children and families include “Hands-On Science” at Cambridge Science Centre with fun workshops that encourage creative thinking and which will lead to some inspiring scientific and engineering memories, “Moonwatch” at the Institute of Astronomy and “Little Explorers: Ice and Anti-Freeze”, a sensory story session at the Polar Museum for the under 5s with storyteller, Marion Leeper.  Dr Tom Crawford will bring the history of maths to life, with the aid of live experiments and togas, in “It’s all Greek to me!” while Channel 4 presenter, Dr Hugh Hunt, plays with blocks, balls, bikes and boomerangs in “An engineer plays with toys”.

Cambridge Science Festival
Image credit: Amelie Deblauwe

Events that are going in my diary include a talk from Jesus College Intellectual Forum on “Is technology making us miserable?”, “Gene eating: The truth about diets” with Dr Giles Yeo on how to break the cycle of pseudoscience and misinformation about dieting and “Truffle Hunt” in the Botanic Garden.  You can don your dancing shoes to celebrate the Festival opening at a ceilidh and wrap up the festivities with “Sunday Papers Live”, a sociable mix of food, newspapers and science.

Download and browse the full Science Festival programme at www.sciencefestival.cam.ac.uk.  You can pre book events through the website or via the Festival booking phone line on 01223 766766.

Watersprite International Student Film Festival

Watersprite International Student Film Festival aims to discover, showcase and nurture emerging young film making talent from around the world and to offer a springboard for the film makers of the future as they start their careers.

Watersprite logo

Screenings, talks by award winning industry professionals, panels and interactive events are free and open to all.  Now in its 10th year, Watersprite 2019 has attracted over 1000 submissions from around 100 countries and, after two intensive rounds of judging, will be screening 26 nominated films at the Festival which runs from 7 – 10 March.

Full details are on www.watersprite.org.uk and to read more about Watersprite and the 2018 Festival, click here

Cambridge Literary Festival

One of the things I love most about writing for my blog and this column is the people I meet.  People who are getting on with their daily lives, have that light bulb moment and just go for it to create something wonderful in the city.  People like Cathy Moore, founder of the Cambridge Literary Festival.

Cambridge Literary Festival logo

Cathy first came to the city to read History at Newnham College and was only the second person from her Liverpool comprehensive school to make it to the University of Cambridge. She also loved English and books so after graduation, Cathy built a career in publishing before taking some time out to be with her young family.  A spell in teaching followed but Cathy returned to Cambridge and books, working part time in Waterstones and running their programme of events.  That’s where she met writer Ali Smith and as the two of them chatted about the Hay Literary Festival, they wondered why there wasn’t a similar event in Cambridge.

Cambridge Literary Festival
Image credit:  Chris Boland

Within months, Cathy had created Wordfest, doing everything herself and setting up twenty four events in three venues.  That was back in March 2003.  “There were about sixty literary festivals then”, Cathy tells me, “and now there are around four hundred in the UK, so we’re all in competition for the authors.”  Wordfest grew, events regularly sold out and initiatives like the debut writers panel made it truly a festival for writers as well as readers.  After gaining charitable status, Wordfest rebranded as Cambridge Literary Festival in 2014.  It now brings Spring and Winter festivals to the city as well as one-off events through the year and since 2017 has delivered the Wimpole History Festival in partnership with the National Trust.

These days, Cathy isn’t doing everything herself!  She and her small team have an office in Downing Place and they have strong support from patrons, media partnerships and sponsors.  A band of volunteer stewards welcomes the many thousands of festival goers and enables events to run smoothly for both authors and audiences.  More volunteers are always welcome so if you’re interested in giving your time (and enjoying some volunteer perks!), contact the team through the website.

Cambridge Literary Festival
Image credit: Chris Boland

 

Festival venues this year include several beautiful university spaces which are normally hidden from public view.  Refreshments will be available at most of these so you can grab a quick drink and a snack between events.  Heffers run a bookstall and there are author signings too.

I’m really excited for this winter’s Festival; it’s always a fun, buzzy weekend and the packed programme truly offers something for everyone, including a brand new Murder Mystery Musical from Sophie Hannah which sounds intriguing!  You’ll find details of what’s on and a booking facility through the Festival website at www.cambridgeliteraryfestival.com

 

This post is part of my “New in Cambridge” column in the November issue of Velvet Magazine.  Read more on http://www.velvetmag.co.uk