Coming up in Cambridge …..

The River Cam will echo to the rhythmic beating of drums and splashing of oars on 8 September as the annual Cambridge Dragon Boat Festival returns, with more than forty teams battling it out along a 200 metre course, raising money for Addenbrookes Charitable Trust.  Dragon boat racing is a terrific spectator sport so head down to Fen Ditton Meadow from where you can see all the action on the water and enjoy entertainment, food trucks and a bar on the river bank.  Read more here

www.cambridgebid.co.uk/events/dragon-boat-festival

Dragon boats on the Cam
Image credit: Vanessa Barton Photography

Bridge the Gap on 9 September is a circular walk through the beautiful grounds of six Cambridge colleges, several of which are not normally open to the public.  Starting and finishing at Parker’s Piece, this annual event is wheelchair and pushchair friendly.  There’ll be music and refreshments along the way, Blue Badge guides in each college to answer your questions plus entertainment, competitions and a tea tent on Parker’s Piece.  Your entry fee goes to Arthur Rank Hospice Charity and Romsey Mill to support their invaluable work in the city.  Read more here

www.arhc.org.uk/bridgethegap

Bridge the Gap Cambridge
Image credit: Sir Cam

Open Cambridge on 14 and 15 September sees the University and partner organisations across the city open their doors, offering special access to places often hidden from public view.  There’s an extensive programme of tours, talks, exhibitions and events offering captivating glimpses into Cambridge history and heritage.  Most events are free, some require pre-booking.

www.opencambridge.cam.ac.uk

Trinity College Cambridge

 

This post is part of September’s “New in Cambridge” column in Velvet magazine.  See more on http://www.velvetmag.co.uk

 

Cambridge Festival of Cycling

Cambridge is a city of bicycles … it’s by far the easiest (and greenest!) way to get around and now the city’s cycling culture is being celebrated in the first Cambridge Festival of Cycling, brought to us by Camcycle, with events happening throughout September.

Cambridge Festival of Cycling logo

Launching the Festival on 1 September is a social ride from King’s Parade to Eddington.  This will be leisurely so think about packing up a picnic and you’ll be able to buy ice cream and coffee from cargo bike traders.  Further highlights in a packed schedule include a screening of the Dutch film “Why we cycle”, a family cycling event and the Cargo Carnival.  Decorate your bike and join this parade of cyclists on a ride through the city centre, starting and finishing at Lammas Land, showing what you carry on your cargo bike!

Cambridge Festival of Cycling
Image credit:  Lucinda Price

And in a look back at the cycling attire of Victorian women, the Cambridge Ladybirds WI and Dr Kat Jungnickel, author of “Bikes and Bloomers” will host a discussion and cycle ride and, this being the WI, there will of course be tea and cake.  Other partner organisations are joining in through September with many diverse events so for the full programme, check out the Festival website.

Cambridge Festival of Cycling
Image credit: Lucinda Price

Camcycle started out life as Cambridge Cycling Campaign in 1995.  Then, as now, it works for better, safer and more cycling in and around Cambridge and provides a voice for the concerns of Cambridge cyclists.  Its campaigning has resulted in more cycle parking on streets and at transport hubs, early start green lights to enable cyclists to clear a crossing before cars and much, much more.  Camcycle has also been heavily involved in planning for the “Chisholm Trail”, a proposed new 3.5 kilometre walking and cycling route which will closely follow the railway line and run between Cambridge Station and the new Cambridge North Station.

You can become a member of Camcycle for a modest fee.  Not only will you be supporting their work, you’ll receive six newsletters a year, a quarterly magazine, discounts at a large number of bike shops and access to an online discussion forum.  The monthly general meetings at the Friend’s Meeting House on Jesus Lane are open to both members and non-members.

Camcycle Cambridge
Image credit:  Lucinda Price

Camcycle is a non profit organisation with a very small team at the helm so it always needs and welcomes volunteers to help with a huge variety of tasks through the year, whether it’s working on the magazine, taking photos, organising and marshalling rides or manning the Camcycle stall at events, to name just a few opportunities.  For the Festival of Cycling, many volunteer roles are available so whatever your skill set, if you’re keen to offer support in this way, check out the “Volunteer” page on the Festival website.

Camcycle Cambridge

Take a look at the website as there is so much more going on than I have space to write about here.  Most events are free and you don’t need to be a Camcycle member to join in the fun, everybody is welcome.

http://www.cambridgefestivalofcycling.org

http://www.camcycle.org.uk

This event takes place at multiple locations in and around the city.

Cambridge Dragon Boat Festival

Houseboats, rowing boats, riverboats, punts ….. all every day traffic on the River Cam.  On Saturday 8 September, they’ll be joined for one day only by a slightly different type of vessel as the Cambridge Dragon Boat Festival returns to the city.

Dragon boats on the Cam
Image credit: Vanessa Barton Photography

More than 40 teams of up to 10 people each – groups of friends, sports clubs and companies – will battle it out along a 200m course at Ditton Meadows, Fen Ditton.  Team spirit and enthusiasm are essential, previous experience of dragon boat racing is not.  Each team is guaranteed a minimum of three races and race organisers, Gable Events, supply the 30′ dragon boats, all the necessary racing equipment and qualified helms to steer a straight course.

Dragon boat racing on the Cam
Image credit: Vanessa Barton Photography

Carol Lester of Gable Events tells me that dragon boat racing originated in China over 2000 years ago.  Legend has it that poet Qu Yuan was cast out by the government and, in his devastation, jumped into a river.  He was revered by the people and fishermen raced out to save him, beating their drums and splashing their oars to keep fish and evil spirits away from him, but to no avail.

Today, dragon boat racing takes place around the world and is a popular group/teambuilding activity.  The dragon heads on the boats symbolise a warding off of evil spirits while a drummer beats out a pulsing rhythm to help pace and synchronise the paddlers’ strokes.

Dragon boat racing on the Cam
Image credit: Vanessa Barton Photography

Dragon boat racing is also a terrific spectator sport.  There’s free parking and free access to Fen Ditton Meadow from where you can see all the action on the water.  There’ll be plenty of entertainment on the riverbank with children’s activities, inflatables, food trucks, a bar, Chinese lion dancing and tai chi demonstrations.

Now in its 14th year, the Cambridge Dragon Boat Festival raises money for Addenbrookes Charitable Trust, to provide technology, specialist services, research and extra comforts for patients at Addenbrookes and the Rosie Maternity Hospital, over and above what would be possible through NHS funding alone.  Last year, the Festival raised the amazing sum of £20,000.  There’s still time to get a team together and be part of this.  For more details, including information on how to enter a team, check out these websites.

http://www.cambridgebid.co.uk/events/dragon-boat-festival

http://www.dragonboatfestivals.co.uk/cambridge

Ditton Meadows, Feb Ditton, Cambridge CB5 8ST

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival

Dr David Crilly describes himself to me as “a musician from Liverpool”.  His first brush with The Bard was as a post graduate student of musicology at Oxford University when a friend asked him to be Musical Director for a student production of “The Taming of the Shrew”.  While David was happy with the incidental music he composed, he was distinctly underwhelmed by the production and reckoned that he could definitely do better himself!  Without further ado, bolstered by the insouciance of youth and undaunted by his lack of experience in the producing/directing department, he appointed himself Artistic Director, put an advertisement in “The Stage” newspaper and set about casting “Macbeth”.  And so it began ….

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival Macbeth

…. Now in its 31st year, the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival holds 4th position in The Independent’s Top 50 UK Arts Festivals and attracts upwards of 25,000 visitors a year, from all over the world.

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival A Midsummer Night's DreamThis summer, the Festival runs from 9 July to 25 August, bringing its open air productions to the stunning and intimate surroundings of private College gardens which the public can’t normally access.  Heck, even the College students can’t access some of these!  Think the Fellows’ Gardens at King’s College and Trinity College and the Scholar’s Garden at St John’s, all of them hidden gems.  This year’s programme includes crowd pleasers “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Macbeth” alongside plays such as “Cymbeline” and “Pericles” which are perhaps less well known.

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival The Taming of the ShrewThe actors perform in full period costume and there is live Elizabethan music.  This is Shakespeare without gimmicks … in the magical atmosphere of the gardens, with the light changing as the sun goes down, David creates productions that everybody can enjoy whether they’re familiar with Shakespeare or not.

Festival prep begins in February as David starts to audition professional actors to build a company.  Each actor appears in two plays so the rehearsal period during June is intense with 12 hour days.  And once July’s plays are under way, the cast rehearses the August plays during the day.  Inevitably, the company (who lodge in College accommodation) becomes a very tight unit.  Along the way this has led, rather romantically, to 11 marriages!

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival The Comedy of Errors

It’s over thirty years since David appointed himself Artistic Director and founded this Festival.  Since then, he’s developed a linked programme of educational events for students of all ages.  He composes and conducts, writes and publishes, researches and lectures here and overseas.

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival Pericles

Each of the 8 plays in this year’s programme holds one charity matinee performance at 2pm, raising funds for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices and St John’s Hospice on the Wirral, in memory of David’s sister.  Tickets are only available on the door for these performances and you need to pay with cash as every penny raised goes to the charities.  Funds raised over the years come to £89,650 so far and David hopes to hit £100,000 this year.

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival Twelfth Night

All performances start at 7.30pm but you can arrive in the beautiful College grounds to enjoy your picnic from 6.30pm.  Mulled wine is served in the interval and children of all ages are welcome.  You can buy tickets and season tickets in advance through the Festival website but there are always tickets for sale for every performance on the door too.

http://www.cambridgeshakespeare.com

These productions take place at multiple venues across the city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chesterton Festival Cambridge

The Chesterton Festival returns later this month with a range of events happening at venues all over the Chesterton area.  This community festival, now in its 10th year, runs from 23 – 30 June.

Chesterton Festival Logo Cambridge

I met with Rachel Clarke, Hall Manager at St. Andrew’s Church, to find out more.  The Festival is organised by a dedicated team of volunteers from the three Chesterton churches with local residents and it’s supported by a grant from Cambridge City Council.  This year, they’ve put together a programme that includes jazz and choral concerts, stunning flower displays in St Andrew’s Church and free circus skills workshops with Cambridge Community Circus.

Flower Festival Cambridge
Image credit: Stewart Abrey

The Community Fun Day happens on Saturday 23 June from 1 – 5pm at Pye’s Recreation Ground.  “It has a lovely relaxed village fete atmosphere,” Rachel tells me, “and it’s a really fun event for all ages.”  There’ll be plenty of stalls to browse … think crafts and handmade goodies, local groups and charities, cakes, ice cream, face painting and more.  Cambridge City Council will be running a free Athletics Area with table tennis, football and an Activity Pod alongside a Golden Mile Family Challenge walk or run.  There’ll be a Children’s Fun Zone and lots going on in the Arena, with a variety of acts from samba and jazz bands to Polish dancers and performances from local schools.

Polish Dancers Cambridge
Image credit: Stewart Abrey

If you’re artistically minded, you’ll enjoy the CreativeSpace at St Andrew’s on Wednesday 27 June.  Just turn up any time between 11am and 7pm.  You’ll find a selection of art materials … let yourself be inspired by the beauty around you and see what you create!  This is a free event, all ages are welcome and they’ll be serving light refreshments too.

Wild West comes to Brown’s Field on Green End Road on Friday 29 June from 6 – 10pm with live music, children’s activities and performances, Rodeo bull and food stalls.  There’s free entry to this event which is brought to the Festival by ChYpPs at Cambridge City Council.

Punch and Judy Show Cambridge
Image credit: Stewart Abrey

If you’d like to join in and celebrate community life in Chesterton, just check online for full details of all these events and more in the Festival schedule.

http://www.chestertonfestival.wordpress.com

This event takes place at multiple venues around Chesterton.

Polish Heritage Day Cambridge

Everyone is invited to join the Polish community of Cambridge on 13 May at The Guildhall to celebrate their heritage and culture.

The Polish community in Cambridge numbers around 5,000 people, many of them permanent residents and some who are here to study.  The Polonia Club on Chesterton Road is a meeting place, a cultural centre and has a restaurant serving traditional Polish dishes while the University offers a Polish Studies programme which runs lectures, film screenings, debates and meetings with writers and artists, events which are open to all.  There’s a Polish Saturday School and a Polish Mass is held every Sunday at the Catholic church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs on Hills Road.

Polish Heritage Day 2018 Cambridge

There’s plenty going on at this Heritage Day event which will be opened by the Polish Ambassador.  You’ll be able to taste authentic Polish food such as pierogi (little dumplings of various flavours, both sweet and savoury), cakes, pastries and breads.  Local Polish artists and craftspeople will be exhibiting.  There’ll be choral, guitar and piano performances, dancing from the Wiwat Folk Group and a Thai boxing display while local Polish businesses will host stalls.

Polish Heritage Day is happening on Sunday 13 May from 12 noon to 5pm.  Entry is free.  Everyone is welcome to join the celebrations and to discover more about Polish life and culture.

Facebook:  Polish Heritage Day in Cambridge

http://www.klubpolonia.co.uk

The Guildhall, Market Place, Cambridge CB2 3QJ

 

Slow Food Cambridge

One of the many things I love about Cambridge is the food!  From street food in the market to fine dining and everything in between, this city has so much to offer.  And now, Slow Food Anglia is hoping to establish a Slow Food Cambridge group.  At a gathering in Thirsty on Chesterton Road last week, they spoke about their ethos and shared their thoughts on how the group might work here.

Slow Food UK logo
Image credit: Slow Food UK

The Slow Food movement was set up in Italy in 1986 by Carlo Petrini to promote local food, food producers and traditional cooking.  It encourages us to think about the sustainability and traceability of our food, as well as reducing food miles by buying seasonal local produce.  Slow Food has also developed the “Ark of Taste”, designed to preserve heritage foods which are in danger of being lost.  In the UK, these foods include Colchester Native oysters, Dorset Blue Vinney cheese and Jersey Royal potatoes.

The Slow Food Anglia group has run events very successfully in Norfolk.  The plan for Slow Food Cambridge would be to run an event in the city later this year, at Harvest Festival time, culminating in a feast, a communal meal with everybody coming together to celebrate local food and community.

Camcattle on Midsummer Common Cambridge
Camcattle grazing happily on Midsummer Common

Of course, there are many fabulous food enterprises already happening in the city and Slow Food Cambridge plans to work in tandem with them.  But it needs a group of people to get this enterprise off the ground.  Do you care about your food, where it comes from and what you do with it?  Do you have skills that could help get a group up and running?  If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes!”, please get in touch with your thoughts and ideas.  Just leave a comment on this post or get in touch via my Contact page and I’ll feed back (pardon the pun!) to Slow Food Anglia.

http://www.slowfoodanglia.org

http://www.slowfood.org.uk