Offering talks, workshops and more, the university-organised Cambridge Festival is back, with more than 350 free events
Image: © Adam Barnes
The Cambridge Festival is back for its second year, offering an enthralling programme of free and fascinating events including lectures, workshops, installations and outdoor trails. Running between 31 March and 10 April, it replaces the hugely popular Cambridge Science Festival and Cambridge Festival of Ideas, aiming to offer an interdisciplinary extravaganza which shows off to the public the university’s pioneering research. This year sees a line-up of 350 events, covering four key strands: society, health, environment and discovery, offering insights from experts and prominent figures on some of the most pressing issues of the day.
Though in its second year, the 2022 Cambridge Festival will be its first showcase of in-person events, following last year’s virtual offering, which took place amid a national lockdown. “We are absolutely delighted to be back in person this year, with a programme that covers the full spectrum of what it means to be human in the 21st century,” comments David Cain, Cambridge Festival manager. “We’re also excited to be able to present a festival that combines both our new online format, as well as the chance to meet researchers in person again.” The hybrid presentation aims to make the events accessible to a wider audience than ever before. “We’re really aware that, by being digital last year, we enabled lots of people to come to the festival who wouldn’t normally be able to, and we don’t want to suddenly shut the door and exclude them again,” says David. “We’re really keen that we keep including people who haven’t been able to take part before.”
At the same time, David is eager to promote in-person interaction, and hopes the festival will provide plenty of opportunities for the local community to gather and partake in a collective sharing of ideas after a two-year hiatus.
In order to entice people off their sofas and out of their homes, this year’s programme is packed with imaginative offerings to get locals engaging with the city once more. One concept that the Cambridge Festival organisers are particularly excited about is a life-size installation called Deception Island Hut, which will transport visitors to the tumultuous and volcanic Antarctic Ocean, immersing them in a unique expedition guided by poetry, sound and film. The attraction aims to inspire visitors to consider Cambridge’s role as a hub for international research and discovery while establishing a link with Antarctica – the only continent the Cambridge Festival failed to reach with last year’s programme.
Over the weekend of 2-3 April, families will be encouraged to take part in fun activities, from creating an ‘Imaginarium’ that inspires children to think about how they want the world to be in the future, to following an escape-room-style trail. This is created by the Gurdon Institute, where researchers stationed in key spots around the city will answer each set of clues.
David’s list of not-to-miss experiences includes a discussion between author Jeanette Winterson and university librarian Jessica Gardner on 1 April. Join them to delve into Jeanette’s latest book, 12 Bytes, and look at the role of women in the development of AI. He also highly recommends the manga drawing workshops taking place at the library on 5 and 7 April, aimed at young people and families.
Festival booking is now open, with the full programme and descriptions of each event available on the website.