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What to expect from online Open Cambridge this weekend

From medieval chapels, 21st Century eco-mosques and the golden age of Cambridge sport, to live experiments and a surprise yarn-bomb installation, this weekend sees the much-anticipated online version of Open Cambridge kick off with a series of live stream, interactive events to get the grey matter fizzing.

As part of the Heritage Open Days scheme, Open Cambridge (11-13 September) is a celebration of all things old and new. Two events that particularly capture this mix are presented at the city’s most iconic places of worship. In Building stone of King’s College Chapel and relevant medieval Cambridge (2pm-3pm Friday 11 September), Dr Nigel Woodcock, Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge, gives a virtual tour of Cambridge. He contrasts the typical building stones of its surviving medieval buildings with the extraordinary geology of King’s College Chapel.

In Cambridge Central Mosque: Exploring Europe's First Eco-Mosque (4pm-4.30pm and 4.30pm-5pm, Saturday 12 September), viewers can join Cambridge Central Mosque online and discover the first Eco-Mosque in Europe. Find out how its design evolved in the hands of the architects behind the London Eye and how a place of worship with capacity for 1,000 people still aims to be carbon neutral. Enter the Islamic Garden (4pm-4.30pm) is a short documentary about the Mosque's Islamic Garden, designed by specialist Islamic garden designer Emma Amina Clark. Virtual Guided Tour (4.30pm-5pm) is a live guided tour inside Europe's first Eco-Mosque.

Cambridge is recognised globally for its impact on science. Two live-stream events at this year’s Open Cambridge offer viewers an insight into this world. One of the events tipped to be a favourite amongst viewers is presented by researchers at the Sainsbury Laboratory. During Plants Alive: Explore and Experiment! (2pm-3pm and 4pm-5pm, Saturday 12 September), researchers invite people to join them for a virtual behind-the-scenes look into parts of the Laboratory not normally accessible to visitors. Viewers can join an interactive discussion, see some of their high-tech equipment in action and take a close look at plant life in a way they may not have done before. Tickets must be booked for this event.  

What do a newt, a scientist and a historic mansion have in common? They are all resident in the grounds of the Wellcome Genome Campus in Hinxton, just South of Cambridge. In Cracking Nature’s Code: An introduction to the site and work of the Wellcome Genome Campus (3pm-4.30pm, Saturday 12 September), staff from the campus invite viewers to join them on a virtual tour of this remarkable site, guiding them through its 125 acres, from the beautiful 18th Century Hinxton Hall to the cutting-edge sequencing laboratories, and finishing in the wilds of the wetlands nature reserve. Head Gardener, Lee Outhwaite, introduces viewers to the extraordinary biodiversity within the grounds and regales them with stories of nature’s amusing interventions during lockdown.

Many people are unaware that out of Cambridge in the mid-19th century came the modern-day laws of football, the Marquess of Queensberry Rules for boxing, one of the best cricket teams in the country, and innovations in a range of other sports. Whilst the city’s sporting achievements continued well into the 20th century, Nigel Fenner, Cambridge Sport Tours, discusses what reduced the potential for an even greater impact during his talk, Cambridge’s golden sporting age: a tradition unshared? (6pm-7pm, Saturday 12 September).

This year also sees a surprise addition to the Open Cambridge programme. The Fantastical Dreamland Garden is a yarn-bomb installation by the Cambridge Yarn Collective. This outdoor crocheted artwork celebrates flora and fauna, both real and fictional. Flowers and wildlife became symbols of hope during lockdown, when the only public spaces many people could access were outdoors. People can head to Jesus Green tennis courts for a colourful display of flowers and insects for all of Cambridge to enjoy on Friday 11th September.  

Another not-to-be-missed addition to this year’s Open Cambridge is the local community’s favourite photos of Cambridgeshire and photos of lockdown. The photos can be viewed as an online gallery via the Open Cambridge website from the 11th September. The gallery celebrates the unusual sights and reveals some of the hidden sides of Cambridgeshire. All photos have been submitted by individuals in the local community and offer an incredible insight into Cambridgeshire daily life at a specific moment in history.

Access to each event is available via the Open Cambridge website event page from the times stated. Following each presentation, recordings are available for viewing until 6pm Sunday 13 September. We encourage everyone to ‘book/register’ via the event web page prior to the start of the event.

For more information on this year’s Open Cambridge, please visit:

Keep up to date with the Festival on social media via Twitter and Instagram.

Open Cambridge media partners: BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and Cambridge Independent.


King's College Wildflower Meadow