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Cambridge Festival: What’s on for children and families this Easter

The Cambridge Festival is launching this week and there are dozens of events for children and families to entertain and educate over the Easter holidays.

The first weekend (April 2-3) is exceptionally busy with a huge number of events, from demos, games and quizzes to exhibitions and workshops, taking place at various drop-in venues along Downing Street and pop-up locations across the city centre.

Cambridge Festival: Chaos talks (55803594)
Cambridge Festival: Chaos talks (55803594)

Families can build a brain, learn how some medicines were derived from poisons, play with mini-immune cell robots, get hands-on with Cambridge Science Centre’s unique exhibits, and even get a tattoo!

There is also an unmissable two-player, immersive theatre game called The Multitude – developed by Cambridge-based arts organisation Collusion, it features interactive projections of the players’ bodies.

Cambridge Festival: Deception Hut. Pic by Adam MJ Barnes
Cambridge Festival: Deception Hut. Pic by Adam MJ Barnes

Jennifer Williams, schools and families coordinator at the festival, said: “It’s vital to inspire children and young people to learn more about the world we live in, so we’re thrilled to be hosting such an eclectic range of in person and online events that hopefully do just that. And, of course, not forgetting the Festival Zine, which was such a huge success last year. The Zine is packed full of fun, practical activities everyone can do at home.

“A lot of work goes into all these events, which are designed to challenge, inspire, and engage. Added to that is a hefty dose of fun – which definitely helps me to learn and remember things!”

Events are free but most need to be booked online. Visit festival.cam.ac.uk to grab your spot.

Our highlights

The Great Garden Egg Hunt

Learn about the many birds that can be spotted at the garden and hunt for information about their amazing eggs to claim an Easter prize. To join in, simply pick up a trail booklet on your way into the garden and start your adventure.

Glasshouses, high view, at Cambridge University Botanic Garden (55803910)
Glasshouses, high view, at Cambridge University Botanic Garden (55803910)
  • Time: 10am-5pm daily, from Thursday, March 31 until Monday, April 18
  • Place: Botanic Garden, 1 Brookside, CB2 1JE

Covid for Kids

One of the events tipped to be a favourite for children aged seven and upwards is the interactive family show, with professor Tom Solomon. The show centres on the adventures of Corry the Coronavirus who travels around the world causing chaos and misery until she is brought under control by a team of Super Scientists. Along the way kids learn how and why viruses emerge, what happens in a pandemic, and how we can beat such threats in the future.

Coronavirus. COVID-19. 3D Render. (55804038)
Coronavirus. COVID-19. 3D Render. (55804038)

Professor Tom Solomon, who appears regularly on BBC Breakfast, is director of the UK’s Emerging Infections Research Unit at the University of Liverpool, and an award-winning science communicator. His last show Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Medicine had a complete sell out run at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017.

  • Time: 1.30-2.30pm on Saturday, April 2
  • Place: Lecture Theatre A - University of Cambridge Admissions Office, New Museums site, Bene’t Street, CB2 3PT

Laser guided robot racing

Discover the fun of racing these toy cars which use a camera, a Raspberry Pi computer and some electronic components plus some computer code in a language called Python to get around a track.

The best known application of laser guidance is in laser guided missiles, but it’s also used in robotic vacuum cleaners. Find out more about how it works here.

  • Time: 1-5pm on Saturday, April 9
  • Place: Institute for Manufacturing, 17 Charles Babbage Road, CB3 0FS

Open day at the Institute of Astronomy

The Institute of Astronomy opens its doors for an afternoon of hands-on activities, demonstrations, talks and displays all around our lovely wooded site. Meet the scientists and the telescopes, and learn more about both astronomy and the research we do.

Mark Hurn with the Northumberland telescope at the Institute of Astronomy, Madingley Road. Picture: Keith Heppell. (55803928)
Mark Hurn with the Northumberland telescope at the Institute of Astronomy, Madingley Road. Picture: Keith Heppell. (55803928)

This year, activities will include SunSpaceArt workshops led by artist Helen Schell.

  • Time: 2-6pm on Saturday, April 9
  • Place: Institute of Astronomy, Madingley Road, CB3 0HA

Wonders of the human body with Dr Jo Science: autism friendly

This is another unmissable show, with plenty of audience participation. During this event, children learn about some oddities relating to our vision and hearing, glimpse how our brains process information, consider how we can trick our senses, and find out some of the things that make each of us unique.

This show is open to adults and children who have an autism spectrum condition and their families. It will be a relaxed show, where audience members are free to come and go as they like.

  • Time: 11-11.45am on Sunday, April 3.
  • Place: Lecture Theatre A - University of Cambridge Admissions Office, New Museums site, Bene’t Street, CB2 3PT

Manga workshops for ages 12-16

Love anime and manga? Love drawing? Want to improve your artistic skills? Then join manga artist Irina Richards and immerse yourself in this dynamic and eye-catching art form.

Cambridge Festival: Manga skills workshop (55803575)
Cambridge Festival: Manga skills workshop (55803575)

This workshop will focus on all aspects of character creation and development – from facial features and poses to designing a character sheet. You will also learn about creating manga-style comics, and draw your own short comics featuring your characters. By the end of this session, you will turn into a manga expert! The session will be led by Irina Richards, an experienced manga creator and artist educator.

  • Time: 10am-12pm on Thursday, April 7
  • Place: Cambridge University Library, Milstein Seminar Rooms, West Road, CB3 9DR

Deception Island

This looks like the highlight of the whole festival. Prepare to embark on an immersive expedition like nothing you have been on before.

Step inside an exact replica of an Antarctic hut and be transported to Deception Island, a tiny caldera in the Antarctic Ocean, battered by the fiercest seas in the world and shaken by volcanic activity.

Cambridge Festival, Deception Hut. Pic by Adam MJ Barnes (55803496)
Cambridge Festival, Deception Hut. Pic by Adam MJ Barnes (55803496)

Here the rusting remains of industrial whaling and a seabed littered with whalebones testify to mankind’s greed and brutality. But the island is also an outpost of scientific exploration, a witness to human attentiveness and fortitude.

This is an immersive poetry film that will delight and enthral.

  • Time: 10am-3pm daily from Thursday, March 31 until Sunday, April 10
  • Place: McDonald Lawn, Outside of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Downing Street, CB2 3ER

The Imaginarium

For older children and teenagers, this is a creative space where imaginations can be fully unleashed to come up with a vision of a better future. Hosted and facilitated by Cambridge Carbon Footprint and artist Hilary Cox Condron.

  • Time: 10am-4pm on Saturday, April 2; 12-4pm on Sunday, April 3
  • Place: Exam Hall , Student Services New Museums Site Pembroke St, CB2 3QY

Escape room: Research breakthrough!

A pop-up escape room from the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science. We invite you to tackle fun puzzles as you develop a future weight-loss therapy. Achieve breakthroughs to win the funding you need to go forward. Will you reach your research goal before you’re ‘locked in’?

With a fun, hands-free and socially distanced approach your group will be physically present but directing a real-life ‘avatar’ around the room!

You must help them find the clues you need to escape in record time and secure your place on the leader board. Teams of four to six adults or teens. You will have a maximum of 45 minutes to escape but please allow up to one hour for the whole activity.

  • Time: 9.30am-5:30pm on Saturday, April 9
  • Place: Nuns Way Pavillion, Kirkwood Road , CB4 2PF

Read more

Pre-festival events held at University of Cambridge Department of Engineering

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