I love Christmas. One of my fondest childhood memories is going to the pantomime each year with my cousins. It was always my granny’s treat and it was so exciting, putting on my best dress and heading out to the theatre. The festive season is just around the corner now so if your thoughts are turning to booking a Christmas show, here’s a run-down of what’s going on in the city this year.
British Sign Language interpreted performance 2.30pm 22 December
Relaxed performance 11am 29 December
What they say: “An all singing, all dancing, anarchic extravaganza … perfect for anyone who loves, hates or feels ambivalent about Christmas.”
What we say: This is a family Christmas show from Figs in Wigs, a female led performance company who promise puns, bad jokes and pop culture references. We loved last year’s show from NIE, Snow White, and we’re looking forward to this.
What they say: “Ballet Central will showcase their dazzling 45 minute version of the time-honoured Nutcracker, introducing children of all ages to a new version of the iconic Tchaikovsky score.”
What we say: A shortened version of The Nutcracker is a perfect way to introduce children to ballet. These final year students from the Central School of Ballet are on the cusp of their professional careers and dance their hearts out in a really magical performance. The costumes, the music …. we were captivated by this last year. Book quickly as there aren’t many tickets left.
29 Dec – 4 Jan A Tchaikovsky Trilogy of The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet. Cambridge Corn Exchange http://www.cambridgelive.org.uk
What they say: “This acclaimed company combines classical training and technique with outstanding soloists to entertain audiences in breath-taking style.”
What we say: We didn’t catch this in Cambridge last Christmas but we have seen St Petersburg Classic Ballet perform elsewhere and they are excellent. A full length ballet to enjoy without going all the way to London!
I love summertime in Cambridge. The May Balls and graduation ceremonies are done now and as the students leave for the summer, the rhythm of the city seems to change. There’s plenty going on, as you will see from this listing which I’ll update as the month unfurls.
1 – 14th Strawberries and Screen. Live screening of BBC coverage from Wimbledon on a giant LED screen between One The Square and The Tamburlaine Hotel. 100 chairs available. Bring your own picnic or buy from food vans (mainly available at lunchtimes). http://www.cambridgebid.co.uk/lovecambridge
3rd 6.15 – 7.15pm Sounds Green. Open air music. Afro Tema, a danceable mix of Senegalese salsa, furious mbalax, afro-rock and some serious roots reggae style music. Botanic Garden. Tickets must be bought in advance online. http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk
6 – 7th 11am – 6pm Cambridge Open Studios. Over 350 artists in and around Cambridge open their studio doors to the public. Fine art, photography, pottery, glass making, sculpture, illustration, textiles, jewellery and furniture. http://www.camopenstudios.co.uk Read more about last year’s Open Studios here
6th 2 – 4pm Family First Saturday. Activities and art-making on the theme of “caring for our museum”. Free, drop in event. Fitzwilliam Museum. http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk
6th 7.30pm Charity Concert supporting Cambridge Summit on Homelessness. Mawson Road Community Orchestra with classical pieces, a cappella from “Sound Scribblers” and traditional music from Greece, Russia, Romania, Macedonia, Scotland and Ireland plus an Auction of Promises. Tickets on the door. St Paul’s Church, Hills Road. http://www.mrco-cambridge.org.uk
8th onwards Cambridge Shakespeare Festival. Productions performed in College gardens, in full period costume and with live Elizabethan music. http://www.cambridgeshakespeare.com Read more about last year’s Cambridge Shakespeare Festival here
10th 6.15 – 7.15pm Sounds Green. Open air music. Martin Kemp’s Organised Chaos. Swing and jazz standards from 1930s to present. Botanic Garden. Tickets must be bought in advance online. http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk
13 – 14th 11am – 6pm Cambridge Open Studios. Over 350 artists in and around Cambridge open their studio doors to the public. Fine art, photography, pottery, glass making, sculpture, illustration, textiles, jewellery and furniture. http://www.camopenstudios.co.uk Read more about last year’s Open Studios here
13 – 21st Cambridge Veg Fest. A city-wide celebration of local and seasonal vegetables, bringing people together to grow, cook, eat and enjoy delicious veg. http://www.cambridgesustainablefood.org
13 – 27th Cambridge Summer Music Festival. Live classical music, focusing this year on music by women composers and music by – and inspired by – J S Bach. www.cambridgesummermusic.com
13th 4.30pm (child friendly) and 7.30pm Music for a summer’s evening. Fairhaven Singers. Strawberries and sparkling wine (included in ticket price) will be served on the banks of the Cam during the interval of the evening performance. Queens’ College Chapel. http://www.fairhavensingers.org.uk
14th 11am and 2pm Science on Sundays: Stop and smell the … pollination! Free, informal 30 minute drop in plant science talk. Botanic Garden. http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk
15 – 17th 10am – 5pm Visitor Centre Open Days and Launch of Museum on a Bike. David Parr House, 184 Gwydir Street. Facebook: @davidparrhouse Read more about David Parr House here
17th 6.15 – 7.15pm Sounds Green. Open air music. Truly Medley Deeply. A hybrid of live band, DJ and jukebox producing a huge sound from Motown classics to stadium rock. Botanic Garden. Tickets must be bought in advance online. http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk
20 – 21st 11am – 6pm Cambridge Open Studios. Over 350 artists in and around Cambridge open their studio doors to the public. Fine art, photography, pottery, glass making, sculpture, illustration, textiles, jewellery and furniture. http://www.camopenstudios.co.uk Read more about last year’s Open Studios here
21st 9am – 2pm Mill Road Summer Car Boot Sale. Gwydir Street Car Park.
24th 6.15 – 7.15pm Sounds Green. Open air music. Noga Ritter. Singer-songwriter and band performing Afro grooves and jazz. Botanic Garden. Tickets must be bought in advance online. http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk
27 – 28th 11am – 6pm Cambridge Open Studios. Over 350 artists in and around Cambridge open their studio doors to the public. Fine art, photography, pottery, glass making, sculpture, illustration, textiles, jewellery and furniture. http://www.camopenstudios.co.uk Read more about last year’s Open Studios here
31st 6.15 – 7.15pm Sounds Green. Open air music. Singer-pianist Ruth Applin with the Josh Kemp Quartet playing classic jazz, blues and bossa nova. Botanic Garden. Tickets must be bought in advance online. http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk
It may be midwinter out there but there’s still plenty happening in the city! I’ll add to this listing as the month unfurls so please do get in touch if you know of an event that could be included.
2nd 10am – 1pm Family Saturday – Prehistoric Plants. Find out about the plants that were around at the time of the dinosaurs and make your own plant fossil to take home. Botanic Garden. Free event. http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk Read more about the Botanic Garden here
2nd 2 – 4pm Family First Saturday. Art activities on the theme of Chinese New Year, in collaboration with Cambridge China Centre. Fitzwilliam Museum. Free event. http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk
3rd 7.30pm “Romantic Russia” concert. Sampson Orchestra. Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Gliere. West Road Concert Hall. Tickets bought from Cam Sight will be donated to the charity. http://www.camsight.org.uk Read more about Cam Sight here
9th 2 – 5.30pm An Introduction to Nature Poetry. Study day with Cambridge scholars Paul Chirico and Oliver Goldstein. How does 19th century poetry speak to us now, in a time of climate change? Stapleford Granary CB22. http://www.literaturecambridge.co.uk/nature/ Read more about Literature Cambridge here
9 – 10th 11am – 4pm Rowan “Cambridge Seen” Art Exhibition and sale. Works created by local artists, on sale at £45 each, raising funds to help Rowan’s student artists lead a more fulfilled life. Long Road Sixth Form College, CB2 http://www.rowanhumberstone.co.uk Read more about Rowan here
11 – 17th 10.30am – 6pm “Illuminating Cambridge Libraries”, a pop-up exhibition by photographer, Sara Rawlinson. Heong Gallery, Downing College. http://www.sararawlinson.com Read more about Sara and her work here and here
13th 7.30pm Spanglish Speed Dating – Valentine Special. The Emperor Tapas pub, Hills Road. Facebook: @SpanishCentreUK
15 – 17th Ahbab Festival, celebrating Middle Eastern and North African culture in music, film and food. Cambridge Junction. http://www.junction.co.uk
15 – 16th Sat noon – 6pm/Sun 10am – 5pm Cambridge Book Fair. 85 booksellers and refreshment by Indigo Cafe. The Guildhall, Market Square. http://www.pbfa.org
16th 11am – 5pm Cambridge Climate and Sustainability Festival, “Affecting Every Existence”. Fisher’s Building, St John’s College. Facebook: @CambridgeClimateForum
16th 8pm Stravinsky “The Rite of Spring” and Rachmaninov “Symphonic Dances”. Cambridge University Orchestra. West Road Concert Hall. http://www.adcticketing.com
20th 4.30 – 7.30pm Twilight at the Museums. Explore 14 local museums and collections after dark. Free, drop in event with activities and themed trails across the venues. http://www.museums.cam.ac.uk
21st 6.30 – 8.30pm Cam Late: Botanic Nights. An evening in the Glasshouse Range with craft beer and atmospheric light displays. Over 18’s only. Botanic Garden. http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk Read more about the Botanic Garden here
I love this time of year. Cambridge looks more beautiful than ever with the Christmas lights twinkling as dusk falls and I still get that child-like rush of excitement in the run up to the big day. And I firmly believe that you’re never too old for a pantomime. One of my fondest childhood memories is my granny treating us to the panto each year … putting on my best dress, meeting up with my cousins, munching a choc ice in the interval.
I’m sure the ice cream selection, if not the jokes, will be a bit more sophisticated at the two pantomimes running in the city this year. Cambridge Junction brings us Snow White, an original take on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, with magic, music and a very shiny red apple. Over at Cambridge Arts Theatre, Aladdin is a classic panto with dazzling costumes and spectacular dance routines. Both productions offer a British Sign Language interpreted performance and a Relaxed performance.
Ballet Central are bringing their adaptation of The Nutcracker to the ADC Theatre from 13 – 15 December with performances at 2.30pm, 4.30pm and 6.30pm. At 45 minutes long, it’s the perfect way to introduce children to this Christmas ballet with its iconic Tchaikovsky score. Enjoy the fantasy and sparkle as Clara’s dreams come alive and she journeys to the Kingdom of Sweets, meeting her Nutcracker Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy along the way.
The North Pole Ice Rink returns to Parker’s Piece for the festive season, with food and drinks available at the cosy undercover Alpine Bar. I hung up my skates long ago after an unfortunate ice rink incident which resulted in a very bruised coccyx but you’ll find me nursing a hot chocolate, maybe a mulled wine, as I watch my family twirl on the ice. Or perhaps I’ll sneak off to have a go on the fairground rides!
For me, it wouldn’t be Christmas without some yuletide singing. Carol services in the city include Carols at Michaelhouse at 3pm and 4pm on 15 December and a traditional Carols by Candlelight at Great St Mary’s on 23 December at 6.30pm. Possibly the most famous Christmas service of all, The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College Chapel, is broadcast to millions around the world on Christmas Eve. To get your hands on a ticket, go to the College early on Christmas Eve morning with photo ID. Ticket distribution starts at 7am. Or grab a mince pie, put your feet up and tune in to BBC Radio 4 for the live transmission at 3pm.