Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, Open Cambridge offers the chance to discover new corners of the city
Discover the city’s hidden nooks and crannies at Open Cambridge, which returns for a 12th year this September. With more than 80 events, it’s a chance to see treasures which are normally off-limits to the public, including art, architecture and exquisite gardens, plus hear stories about our city’s heritage and fascinating residents, from Viking invaders to spies and scientists.
“The Open Cambridge weekend offers a fantastic opportunity 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,” says Open Cambridge coordinator Sue Long. “It’s always been an extraordinary city and we hope this year’s Open Cambridge showcases all those big and little wonders.”
For wining and dining in a jaw-dropping setting, check out the annual Open Cambridge dinner, taking place in the historic splendour of the Corpus Christi dining room. A three-course feast featuring a special guest speaker, it promises to begin the weekend in style on Friday 13 September.
Sure to be popular are the free tours that bring the rich history of the city to life, with tales of famous names, fantastic achievements and infamous student pranks. Literature lovers can explore the University Library to learn how the team there takes care of eight million books, and take a peek at the Victorian and Edwardian collections housed in the building’s imposing tower.
There’s a chance to see the stacks at Queens’ College Old Library, which 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 1,000 years. Then join in with the Literary Cambridge tour to discover some of the many novelists, poets and playwrights connected with the city.
The Observatory at the Institute of Astronomy on Madingley Road will open its doors to guide visitors around marvels which include the great Northumberland and Thorowgood telescopes, and the neo-classical Observatory building itself, which dates back to 1823 and houses one of very few specialist astronomical libraries in the country. There’s also an opportunity to venture down into the city’s – thankfully never needed – nuclear bunker, located at the County Council’s office buildings.
If you love a stroll around a beautiful garden, you’re spoiled for choice, with many colleges opening the gates to their manicured grounds. Admire the Victorian borders at Selwyn, the roses at Wolfson, and the cures, curiosities, tastes and essences at Madingley Hall’s Medicinal Garden – they’ll be hosting a lunchtime BBQ once you’ve worked up an appetite.
There’s art, too, courtesy of a tour of New Hall’s impressive collection; the largest accumulation of works by female artists in the whole of Europe, and science, at the Biomedical Campus, where you can join a tour around this world-leading centre of academia, research and health.
Cambridge’s new Eddington neighbourhood will be laying on a whole day of fun, offering talks, tours, live music, food and entertainment on the 14th. With samba bands, street food and a spotlight on sustainability, it’s a perfect opportunity to visit this fascinating new suburb.
Open Cambridge 2019 runs 13-14 September. Visit opencambridge.cam.ac.uk for more information.