Pirates, reindeer, magic & games: Cambridge Festival of Ideas events for children/families



Children, young people and families are invited to be a part of this year’s 10th annual Cambridge Festival of Ideas (16-29 October) with a packed series of talks, story-telling, games, exhibitions and interactive fun.

From detective hunts, decoding secret messages, and fortune telling in Ancient Rome, to piracy on the high seas and uncovering outrageous fibs, this year’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas is packed full of events for kids, teenagers, and their families.

The first week of the Festival is crammed with things to do for younger children, starting with Little explorers: people of the arctic on 16 October at the Polar Museum. Intrepid explorers under 5 are invited to discover the Arctic and the people and animals that live there. There will be a multitude of crafts, and tales from the much-loved storyteller, Marion Leeper. Kids, parents, and grandparents also have the chance to become Polar explorers and get hands on during The Polar Museum’s family day, Living in the Arctic, on 21 October. Live reindeer will be making an appearance!

Day three of the Festival, 18 October, the fun continues for 3-5-year olds during the workshop True colours. A series of playful, art-based activities lead to several questions: Does everything have a colour? Can we experience colours without seeing them? Do colours look the same to everyone? This is a chance for the littles ones to learn all about colour.

During the first weekend of the Festival, the Cambridge Archaeological Unit opens its doors for its hugely popular Prehistory and archaeology day on 21 October, allowing families to step back in time and get hands-on with rock art, spear-throwing, archery, and pottery making; even bake bread the prehistoric way. Marvel at displays of metal-smelting and flint-knapping and get a bit messy with wattle and daub. Join this hugely popular event and inspire your inner archaeologist. A fun and educational day out for the whole family.

If you have had your fill of getting pre-historically grubby why not pop along to the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages also on Saturday 21 October for In Pondichéry with Marcel the French travel guide. Follow Marcel to Pondichéry! He will be the perfect guide for families and children to discover a must-see selection of tourist sites on the east coast of India. This workshop mixes words, drawings, crafts, group games and much more. Try out our winning combination for learning French: education, entertainment and fun!

The second week of the Festival kicks off on 23 October when things become a little more cunning during Imposter! Families can join the Whipple detectives on the hunt for fakes and forgeries, crafted by sneaky criminals and recently exposed by the Museum’s top investigators, and even have a go at their own forgery.

Meanwhile, over at The Museum of Classical Archaeology find out how Ancient Romans predicted what was going to happen in the future and how they tried to change it during the event It's a kind of magic on 24 October. There are crafts and hands-on activities galore so families and kids can find out about the weird and wonderful things those Ancient Romans did to predict the future.

From discovering Ancient Rome to learning about Ancient Babylon through a board game! The Esagil board game on 24-25 October uncovers the mysteries of Babylon. Seek a treasure for the great god Marduk. Travel through the maze of the city. Who will be the first to get their offering to the temple, called Esagil?  Every encounter may change your fate!  Esagil is a game for 2-6 players aged 8 and over.

If families are keen for more detective-styled events, Script detectives: decoding ancient writing(26 October) offers children the chance to have a go at ‘breaking’ the code of ancient writings and also have a go at writing their own secret messages in ancient scripts.

For more codebreaking fun, there is also Codes in clay on 28 October. Families can visit the Codebreakers and Groundbreakers exhibition, and then create their own secret, coded message in clay. The exhibition celebrates two remarkable intellectual achievements, the result of teamwork across different areas of study and the brilliance of some beautiful minds: the breaking of the Enigma codes, the most famous of war codes, and the decoding of the Linear B script, Europe’s oldest readable writing system.

On 27 October, the Faculty of Education invites children to Playful Learning. Fantasy or fiction? Explore them with creative writing, try some psychology experiments in our observation lab and explore our playful learning zone with activities based on research into children’s learning.

Ah hoy there me hearties, pluck a crow and shiver me timbers! Moving to more recent times, on 28 October, the Festival goes all out piratic with the event Legacies of piracy: Hollywood vs history Families and children can find out about the true pirates of the Caribbean (or Cornwall!), what real pirates looked like and how they acted, while separating truth from imagination. Climb aboard for hands on activities, drawing and high-seas adventure.

For even more fantasy and adventure, join Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination to explore true stories and wild flights of imagination in the beautiful gardens of Emmanuel College during You are where? Exploring real and fantastical worlds in a garden full of stories on 28 October. These two workshops offer time to explore and imagine, notice, and daydream. They are for people of any age, and are inspired by children’s ideas from the Fantastical Cambridgeshire projects.

Moving upwards in age, the Festival has several events for the 12+ age group. Starting with Running the British economy 2017: economic models – fact or fake? on 18 and 19 October. Students studying economics or related subjects in Years 12 and 13 can have a go at this popular interactive computer simulation game of the British economy.

Can you tell truth from lie? Cambridge Storytellers are proud to present their 7th annual Cambridge contest of liars competition at Cambridge Junction on 19 October. Meet some of the finest liars in East Anglia, as they try to blind you with science and pull the wool over your eyes with a collection of tall tales, outrageous fibs, and alternative versions of the truth.

Teenagers are invited to come and play another fun, interactive game to learn more about how the forces of competition, rules, resources, power, and beliefs can shape society in Play to win on 23 October. After being placed into small groups they will be assigned a position in society by the facilitator, and will then have to decide how they want to shift the rules of the game to win, depending on what winning means to them.

<p">Languages always change and existing words are constantly recombined into novel combinations. Do these new combinations have a single true meaning? On 28 October, you can find out during Trout pout and bucket list: is there a true meaning in novel word combinations? Drop in at Anglia Ruskin University to explore the fascinating world of word-creation through fun activities that will test your wizardry with word creation.

Finally, for those with more musical tastes there is the Finals of the Cambridge Young Composer of the Year on 25 October, during which there will be performances of entries to the Cambridge Young Composer of the Year competition. Following these performances, on 29 October, the Young Composers concert is a short concert showcasing exciting new compositions by winning entries from the Young Composer of the Year competition. The compositions to be performed have all been written by children aged 17 and under.

Commenting on the events for families and children, Festival Coordinator, Ariel Retik, said: “This year, we are hosting a range of events that really get kids thinking about and questioning the world around them, the past, present and future, in a fun and interactive way. The Festival is always well attended by families and children, and we very much look forward to welcoming them back again this year as well as new visitors who may not have experienced the Festival before.”

To read more information, click here.

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