Cambridge takes on an air of fiesta in June. Our beautiful green spaces are full of people enjoying the summer sunshine, chatting, picnicking, playing rounders, playing guitars, even practising their circus skills! Ecstatic students celebrate the end of exams at the famous May Balls, with the sound of revelry floating on the night air and amazing firework displays as darkness falls. It’s a time to enjoy life outdoors so I’ve put together some ideas to help you make the most of summer in the city.
What could be nicer on a summer’s day than messing about on the river? You’ll get a spectacular view of the colleges with their historic buildings and beautiful gardens as you glide along the Backs in a punt. Avoid the touts in the city centre and head down to Quayside at Magdalene Bridge where you’ll find several punt hire operators. Established in 1910, Scudamores are open every day from 9am to dusk. Self-hire punts take six people and cost £30 per hour. If you’d rather just sit back and relax, take a 45 minute shared guided tour at £20 per adult. Concessions and private tours are available. The punt chauffeurs are a fount of historical information and while I’ve never heard them sing “O Sole Mio”, they might if you ask nicely!
The Star & Mouse Picture Show is back for a new season, bringing weekend screenings underneath the stars at fabulous venues in and around Cambridge through the summer. This “trinket cinema” creates magical evenings of fairy lights, food and fire pits with live entertainment themed to the film. From 1-3 June, Star & Mouse lands on the riverside at The Double Tree Hilton in Granta Place, Mill Lane, showing “Inception”, “The Goonies” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. Watch the sun go down then as darkness falls, park yourself in a deckchair, put on your wireless headphones and enjoy the film. Advance booking is recommended. Tickets are £12, bookable through www.starandmouse.com
Jesus Green Lido opened in 1923 and still has a reassuringly old school feel with its wooden changing cubicles and its attended Basket Room for safe storage of your possessions as you swim. One of the longest outdoor pools in the country, it’s surrounded by trees so it’s sheltered and private with shade on sunny days and plenty of grassy space for sunbathing and picnics. There’s a dedicated lane for speedy swimmers, a sauna and a little café for drinks and snacks. The Lido is unheated so the water temperature can be bracing but it’s quite acceptable to wear a wetsuit if you’re not the hardy type! You’ll find the Lido opposite Chesterton Road, between Jesus Lock and Victoria Bridge. An adult non member swim costs £4.70. Membership, season tickets and concessions are available.
King’s College is famous worldwide not only for its academic excellence but also for its stunning Chapel and its choir whose Christmas Eve service, “A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols”, is broadcast to millions of listeners across the globe. On Sunday 24 June, join The King’s Men (the choral scholars of King’s College) for “Singing on the River”, their final concert of the season. The King’s Men will be on the Cam in punts singing madrigals, part-songs and close harmony while you’ll be relaxing with your picnic on the College’s back lawn which runs down to the river bank. Tickets are £12.50 or £5 for students (under 12’s get in free) from the King’s College Visitor Centre in King’s Parade or from firstname.lastname@example.org
For a cool drink on a warm day plus breath taking 360 degree views over the city, head to the Roof Terrace Bar at The Varsity Hotel in Thompson’s Lane. It’s stylish with comfortable outdoor seating, colourful planting and a dedicated table service rooftop bar offering an extensive gin menu, summer cocktails, wine, bottled beers, champagne and prosecco alongside non alcoholic cocktails and soft drinks. There’s a small barbecue and salad menu too. This is one of my favourite places to sip a gin and tonic (Cambridge Distillery gin, naturally!) while watching the sun set on a summer evening.
This post is The Cambridge Scene column which I write for Eastlife Magazine, a terrific guide to all that’s happening in the east of England. To read more of the June edition, take a look on http://www.eastlife.co.uk