skip to content

Free drop-in events at Open Cambridge in September

Open Cambridge, one of the region’s largest, annual festivals of history and culture, kicks off on Friday 9 September 2022 and boasts a wide range of must-see drop-in events.

From hidden nature reserves and majestic libraries to iconic buildings and enthralling stories of the past, this year’s 10-day Festival (9-18 September) features over 30 drop-in events across the city and county, alongside a further 60 bookable events.

Open Cambridge, which is part of the national Heritage Open Days scheme, is a celebration of Cambridgeshire – its past, present and future. As many of the featured spaces and places are not usually open to the public, visitors have the rare opportunity for a tantalising glimpse behind the scenes of some of the country’s most iconic buildings, landmarks and locations.    

The following is a very small selection of some of the drop-in events tipped to be popular with visitors.

For those who love exploring historic buildings there is the unprecedented opportunity to go inside the historic Rothschild Bungalow at Woodwalton Fen in Huntingdon. Built in 1911 as a base for research and summer retreats, this captivating building gives a glimpse into the past pursuits of the founder of the Wildlife Trusts and wildlife conservation. Join us for privileged access to a building not usually open to the public and discover how Charles Rothschild would have used it as a base for his field trips, studying moths and other insects.

Staying in the Fens, the Farmland Museum and Denny Abbey in Waterbeach are set to host an open day as part of Open Cambridge. The independent museum tells the fascinating 850-year story of farming and life in the Cambridgeshire Fens, in addition to being the location of Denny Abbey, the beautiful former Benedictine monastery which we manage on behalf of English Heritage. Local musicians, Burwell Folk, play live all day, and there are a host of fun activities for the whole family.

Or why not take a peek Behind the scenes in the Parker Library, which holds a magnificent collection of illuminated manuscripts, such as the Bury and Dover Bibles (circa 1135 and c 1150) and the Chronica maiora by Matthew Paris (c 1230-50)? Precious Anglo-Saxon manuscripts include the earliest copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (c 890), unique copies of Old English poems and other texts, musical notation dating back to the 10th century, and curious maps from the Middle Ages.

Another iconic building, the Wren Library, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and opened in 1695 is one of the architectural masterpieces of the University. It houses the College's rare book and manuscript collections and acts as the Library's reading room and exhibition space. Everyone is welcome along to a special exhibition, Inventing Trinity, in the Library at Trinity College highlighting the 400 years of inventions at Trinity College.

For a more modern take on library collections, there is a hidden gem in the heart of Cambridge, the Ancient India and Iran Trust. The Trust was established in 1978 and is the only independent UK charity concerned with the study of early India, Iran and Central Asia. With their growing library of over 50,000 items, public lectures and other activities, they promote scholarly research and public interest in the prehistory, archaeology, art history, ancient languages and religions of these area. Visitors are welcome to look around their charming premises, a large Victorian house on Brooklands Avenue, and learn more from the trustees and staff about their unique collections and what they do.

Staying in the present, Eddington, the new neighbourhood in Cambridge, hosts a family-friendly event where everyone can learn tips to lead a more sustainable life. Discover the intricate details of nature and wildlife in the popular Eddington Ecology walking tours; explore Cambridge’s Vegan Market; practice the circular economy in a local toy-swap; gain insights in a talk by Professor Shailaja Fennell from the Department of Land Economy; and take on some energetic cycling challenges including the try-out show (hop on the saddle of a range of bikes) and cycle sprints. Local charities and organisations also provide tips on a range of topics all of which aim to share knowledge in how to live a greener life.

Heading back in time (and back to the city centre), the evocative street exhibition telling the stories of the artisanal working class neighbourhood of 'Sturton Town' just off Mill Road in Cambridge is definitely worth checking out. Blue plaques and exhibition boards exhibited in the windows of the Victorian properties in CB1 all along Sturton Street, Kingston Street, Ainsworth Street, Hooper Street and Sleaford Street, share the evidence of small businesses run from properties and fascinating stories about the former inhabitants.

Keep up to date with the Festival: Twitter: @OpenCambridgeUK | Instagram: @CamUniFestivals | Facebook: CambridgeFestival

Sign up to our monthly What's On newsletter to keep up to date with events from the University of Cambridge.



Ancient India & Iran Trust