Things to do in Cambridge this winter. Cosy cafes, a beer festival and winter fairs, there’s plenty to see and do in the city.
Written by Bob Cox-Wrightson | Twitter @bobcw
Winter in Cambridge can be pretty cold. If you draw a line out from Cambridge, straight over the Fens and the Wash, the next high ground you will reach will be the Arctic – and when the winter wind whips down Sidney Street in December it can feel like the Arctic too. But don’t let this put you off visiting the city this winter, as it’s got lots to offer. Choose a nice, bright sunny day and Cambridge will sparkle for you, and when the weather closes in, there are plenty of indoor places to explore and warm up in.
Cambridge North Pole, Parker’s Piece
Talking of the Arctic, Cambridge has its very own annual North Pole! This mini winter wonderland arrives in mid-November on Parker’s Piece, and features a skating rink, an Alpine cabin bar and an array of festive treats. As well as the ice rink, which has a clear roof so you don’t have to worry about the weather, there’s a wide selection of entertainment, including funfair rides and a separate children’s zone. After whizzing around the ice, refuel yourself with mulled wine, warming cider, traditional German Bratwurst, or speciality gourmet burgers. For more information, visit www.thenorthpolecambridge.co.uk
Punting in Cambridge
So, you’ve picked a clear, crisp winters day – and what better way to see Cambridge than in a punt. Most of the punt companies offer winter trips along the river, which is significantly less busy than the summer months. You won’t freeze, as you’ll be wrapped up in blankets, chauffeured along amidst the mist, taking in sparkling views of the colleges and spires. Take a coffee or hot chocolate along for the ride, and you’ll be warm and snug as you glide along. Find out more at www.visitcambridge.org/things-to-do/punting-bus-and-bike-tours/punting-tours
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
Another beautiful place to visit on a winter’s day is the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Be sure to visit the special winter garden, where the diverse range of plants, with coloured stems, bark and foliage bring colours to brighten even the gloomiest of winter days. It’s not just this corner of the garden which looks great in winter, a stroll around the 16 hectare site will take in over 8,000 species, including some tropical varieties in the glasshouses. Visit the central Palm House, dedicated to the plants of the Tropical Rainforest, and you’re sure to warm up! For more details visit www.botanic.cam.ac.uk
Winter Fairs in Cambridge
Did you know that Cambridge has its own Winter Fair? Every year Mill Road shuts down to let pedestrians take it over with arts, crafts, and festive entertainment. It’s a great place to pick up some festive treats for yourself or as gifts, and it’s a foodie’s delight, with many delicious morsels to treat your tastebuds. You never know what surprises you’ll find along one of Cambridge’s most iconic and eclectic thoroughfares. This year’s festival takes place on Saturday 7 December from 10:30am to 4:30pm. For more information, visit www.millroadwinterfair.org
The weather can, of course, take a turn for the worse in winter, so it’s just as well that Cambridge has plenty to explore indoors – and what is the festive season without a panto? From 28 November until 11 January Cambridge Arts Theatre is playing host to Cinderella, starring Wayne Sleep and Liza Goddard. This family-friendly pantomime is a timeless tale, picked with sing-along songs, sensational costumes and jokes to laugh and groan at. Tickets can be booked at www.cambridgeartstheatre.com
Cambridge Beer Festival
Another popular Cambridge institution is the annual Winter Beer Festival. Running from Wednesday 13 to Saturday 16 November, at the University Social Club in Mill Lane, this a great place to sample a huge range of beers, ciders, perrys, wine and mead, as well as a great range of food. The event is organised by the Cambridge & District branch of CAMRA, and each year brewers select their finest winter warmers for the event – catch them before they go! For more information visit www.cambridgebeerfestival.com
There’s nothing quite like Cambridge as Christmas approaches. The weather may by chillier, but pop on a scarf and hat and make sure you visit the city to indulge in winter treats, both indoors and out.