Open Cambridge celebrates the wonders of the city

Christ's College, Cambridge

Viking invaders, what to do with eight million books, emotional architecture, medicinal gardens, the women who made modern Cambridge… all is revealed as the city opens its doors to the hidden treasures that have created this small city with a big impact during this year’s Open Cambridge.

Now in its 12th year, the hugely popular celebration of Cambridge’s history, architecture, art and gardens, run by the University of Cambridge, takes place from 13th – 14th September at numerous locations across Cambridge. Over 80 free events include walks, talks, tours and exhibitions that highlight aspects of the City’s history – natural and cultural, civic and religious, scholarly, recreational and industrial.

The programme is widely available online and in print from the Monday 15th July onwards and bookings open on Monday 19th August.

Open Cambridge, which is sponsored by KIER, is for those of any age keen to explore and learn more about our thriving, vibrant city, from a peek behind the scenes at the Cambridge Mosque on Mawson Road or the ADC Theatre, a rare tour of the Marshalls’ hangars, and fun and games at the Cambridge fire station (pictured below), to guided tours of Cambridge University Colleges’ exquisite gardens, museums, galleries and libraries.

Open Cambridge at the Fire Station

Tipped to book up fast are a series of free tours – led by Cambridge Blue and Green Badge Guides – that bring the rich history of the city to life by introducing visitors to some of the people and places that have made the city the powerhouse it is today. Visitors can learn about the influence of women in Cambridge, from early College founders, through Queens and townswomen, to the 19th Century pioneers who founded the first women’s Colleges. Further guided walks include an exploration into Cambridge’s contribution to the world of espionage; the Vikings’ influence on the city; the city’s rich literary history from John Milton to Joanne Harris; the Tudor dynasty’s lasting impact on the town and University; and the ultra-modern Biomedical Campus where academia, industry, research and health collaborate. A special cycle tour explores Cambridge’s commons through the ages. Why were they important, who made use of them and to what purpose? The ever-popular complete Cambridge tour also returns, offering visitors a punt ride along the majestic College backs and an intriguing walk around the historic city.

For many, Cambridge is synonymous with science and technology. However, art is also a prominent feature of the city. A range of events showcase examples of artistic expression. Murray Edwards College, home to award-winning gardens, an internationally acclaimed art collection by women artists, and a bountiful archive and library, offers a tour of art, architecture and landscape. The Heong Gallery features an art exhibition by Yoko Ono, a leading artist of the Fluxus movement and a pioneer of Conceptual Art. Wolfson College displays the work of architect, Tszwai So, highlighting his emotional responses in the buildings and the spaces he creates and the attachments of people to places. Another exhibition at the Department of Archaeology on Friday 13th September delves into our fears about that very day.

Library tours also feature heavily this year. Who doesn’t love a good book, particularly some of the oldest in the world? Some of the libraries opening their doors to reveal their treasures include Queens’ College Old Library, which dates from 1448 and holds 30,000 volumes, many annotated by generations of Queens’ scholars, and the 17th Century  St John’s College Old Library, which houses collections spanning over a 1,000 years. The University Library also explains how they look after eight million books (and counting!) during a guided tour.

Open Cambridge logoOne of the main highlights of this year’s Open Cambridge is the special day of talks, covering renewable energy and sustainable living, and walking or cycling tours by the architects and professionals who have created the development around Eddington, the flourishing new community being delivered by the University of Cambridge. Cambridge’s newest district already has a primary school, award-winning community centre, supermarket and sporting facilities with more to come. Visitors can learn about the first phase of Eddington and about creating the foundations for a long-lasting and sustainable community. On Saturday 14th September, Eddington hosts a day of live music with the unmissable Brass Funkeys, food from some of the region’s favourite food trucks and vendors, and entertainment in the form of a samba band and other artists throughout the day.

A further highlight is the annual Open Cambridge three-course dinner on the evening of Friday 13th September. This year the fine-dining experience takes place in the historic splendour of the 19th Century dining hall at Corpus Christi College. The evening starts with a sparkling pre-dinner drink followed by a delicious three-course meal ending with coffee and a short talk about the College’s history by a special guest speaker. Bookings for the dinner are open now. Tickets are £40. To book the dinner only please contact: 01223 761539 /

Speaking ahead of this year’s Open Cambridge, Coordinator Sue Long said: “The Open Cambridge weekend offers a fantastic opportunity for the whole community and visitors alike to celebrate the city and enjoy its distinctiveness; the ancient Colleges, the picturesque ‘backs’ and the incredible architecture, old and new, all combine to create a place we feel lucky to live in.

“It’s always been an extraordinary city and we hope this year’s Open Cambridge showcases all those big and little wonders. We very much look forward to welcoming back past visitors and meeting some new people too who may never have been to the many cultural and historical events on offer.”

Download a full copy of the programme

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The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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