This community-led event brings out Cambridge’s best, from its historical origins to modern-day advancements and everything in between
Open Cambridge celebrates the city’s history, culture and extraordinary impact – and the people who shaped it along the way. As part of England’s Heritage Open Days, the ten-day event provides opportunities for exploration, completely free of charge, and offers a new way to experience the local landscape. This year’s festival takes place from 8-17 September and includes a number of activities suited to all ages.
The event begins with a masterclass in environmentalism. ‘Building Entopia: The inside view of a sustainable retrofit’ consists of a tour and presentation inside the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership’s (CISL) Entopia Building; while ‘Sustainable YOU at Eddington’ offers a more hands-on experience, with self-guided walking tours, toy swaps and other family-friendly activities.
Get a sense of different religious practices in the Beth Shalom Reform Synagogue and the Cambridge Buddhist Centre. The Synagogue welcomes anyone and everyone to learn about Judaism, sample traditional Jewish dishes and try their hand at Hebrew lettering. The Buddhist Centre, situated on the edge of Midsummer Orchard, offers meditation and mindfulness sessions, a creative writing group and a chance to hear more about the religion.
Continue the learning by visiting the Cambridge University libraries. Stop by Selwyn College’s two libraries, including the recently renovated Old Library – housing its archives, rare books and special collections – and the Bartlam Library, which is a more modern study space. Later on, pop over to St John’s College to experience ‘Improbabilities: A Douglas Adams Exhibition’, featuring memorabilia from the author’s drama and student debating days.
St John’s is also offering a tour of its grounds, which contain the famed Bridge of Sighs, and the iconic College Chapel. If you can’t get enough of the outdoors, take a University Farm tour for a taste of life at the Veterinary School. Guests will see the dairy herd and sheep flock, and learn about milk production, animal welfare and woodland management.
Open Cambridge caters to local history buffs, offering ‘Life in the Bronze Age: Excavating Must Farm’ and ‘A Hidden WW2 Gem: A Guided Tour of Bottisham Air Museum’. Join the Cambridge Archaeological Unit and journey back almost 3,000 years at an excavation site in Whittlesey. There, find thousands of well-preserved artefacts, from textiles to tools and weapons, and experience the Fens of millennia past. If modern history is more appealing, you may enjoy the Bottisham Airfield Museum. This World War II air base is dedicated to the RAF, Belgian and United States Eighth Air Forces.
To learn more about each event – or to pre-book your activities – head to heritageopendays.org.uk