Image by Adam Cash
Feasting, family fun and more in store at Mill Road's annual shindig
A chance to eat amazing food from all corners of the globe, hear great live music, see friends, drink endless mulled wine, blitz your Christmas list and generally get in the seasonal spirit, the Mill Road Winter Fair is a well-loved fixture of the local calendar. It’s poised to return for its biggest event yet on 2 December, when visitors will find a bumper range of almost 200 stalls including over 50 foodie traders.
The event kicks off with an opening ceremony at Ditchburn Gardens, hosted by the Mayor of Cambridge and featuring the uplifting sounds of Greater Bibleway Gospel choir. As ever, Mill Road will be closed (for drivers and cyclists), between East Road and Coleridge Road from 9.30am until 5.30pm, so you’re free to roam around freely – here’s a taster of what’s in store!
MUSIC & MERRIMENT
Samba, gospel, rock, brass bands and choirs are just some of the musical sounds you’ll hear drifting through the air on Fair day, as a packed schedule of acts perform up and down the Mill Road mile. Our top picks include the ever crowd-pleasing Brass Funkeys, who’ll be putting their energetic brassy spin on classic tunes at 12.45pm (Tenison Road), and the loud Brazilian carnival rhythms of Arco Iris at 12.30pm (Argyle Street co-op). Pick up a programme – there’s usually plenty at Donkey Green by the swimming pool – to see who’s playing where and when, and get your dancing feet on!
Speaking of dancing, both the Cambridge and Coton Morris Men will be out in handkerchief-waving, bell-jangling force, while the brilliant Cambridge Swing Dancers will be lindy-hopping around too. If you fancy getting a little more involved, Cambridge Community Circus will be offering a free workshop at Great Eastern Street carpark (12-12.30pm), where you can pick up some new skills, or head towards Petersfield Green (on the corner of Mill Road and East Road) to explore the pop-up labyrinth; you can watch it being constructed from 10.30am, and it will be ready to get lost in by midday.
There will also be Tai Chi displays taking place near Petersfield from the Taoist Tai Chi Society, with opportunities for the public to get involved; regular practice helps return the body to a relaxed and healthy state, which is something we could all do with a bit of in the frantic run-up to Christmas!
Anglia Ruskin is embracing the MRWF spirit this year too, with a whole crop of activities. Drop by at the campus to get a mini photo shoot with a Christmassy spin from student photographers (£20 for 20 minutes), catch an exhibition featuring pieces from the World Illustration Awards Exhibition 2017 and visit the Mill Road Art exhibition at ARU’s Drama Studio in Covent Garden.
If you want to slip away and warm up inside a pub for a bit, it has to be The Empress on Thoday Street, which is famous for throwing the boat (and taste) out the window and going absolutely berserk with their brilliantly outlandish Christmas decorations. Another favourite is The Cambridge Blue on Gwydir Street, which welcomes real life reindeer to its garden every year on Fair day.
EATING & DRINKING
Hot, cold, sweet or savoury, the food is always a huge draw at Mill Road Winter Fair and this year will be no different. Gwydir Street car park will once again welcome a vast range of foodie traders to tempt you with their delicious wares. Sate your sweet tooth with a trip to the fabulous Mr Cake’s stall, where he’ll be dishing out freshly-made chocolate brownies slathered with hot chocolate sauce, or visit Alison Reed Chocolates for luxurious handmade chocolates, hampers and gift baskets.
Kids are bound to love the array of sweet-themed Christmas decorations, popcorn and candy floss on offer at Sweet Retreat, while grown-ups will be galloping off to enjoy the rest of the fair after a visit to Gentleman Jim’s Mobile Bar: a restored horse box serving up seasonal cocktails, mulled wine, mulled cider and around 16 different gins.
There are also hot Malaysian curries, German sausages and burgers, authentic Neapolitan-style pizza and gorgeous, gooey raclette to be devoured at this pitstop, while it’s a street food fiesta over on St Barnabas Road, with firm local favourites including Guerrilla Kitchen, Steak & Honour and Holy Schnitzels all opening their hatches to feed hungry bellies. Need something to wash it all down with? Drinks shop Thirsty will be inviting all to hop aboard their boozy beer bus.
Outside Bharat Bhavan meanwhile, there’s G&Ts and more from Bar B, luxury Belgian hot chocolates and roast chestnuts from Beijo Bebidas, a pedal-powered coffee bike, crepes, plus sloe gin and fruit-flavoured vodkas from Cambridge Farmers’ Outlet. Mooching over to Petersfield, you’ll find hot drinks and cakes from Caffè Mobile, Southern Thai cuisine and tempting bakes from the ever-reliable Mill Road Women’s Institute, while over on Tenison Road there’s hearty Caribbean eats from Reggae Kitchen.
The Fair is a great opportunity to tackle your Christmas list and pick up presents – many of which are handmade, totally unique and created by local artists and craftspeople. Pick up gorgeous Cambridge prints from Emma Bennett Collage and Roxana de Rond, plus luxurious natural skincare products, handmade pottery and books, all at Ditchburn Gardens, then pop along to Bath House to browse jewellery, greeting cards made by Cambridge artists and unique handmade glassware.
Donkey Green will be as busy as ever, offering everything from artisan soap to kids clothing and pet-themed gifts. This is also where Cambridge Edition has its stall, so come and say hi: we promise we’ll be well-stocked with chocolates!