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Doctor and the Medics steal the show at this year's Cambridge Big Weekend

The Doctor, leader of Doctor and the Medics. Picture: Warren Gunn
The Doctor, leader of Doctor and the Medics. Picture: Warren Gunn

Parker’s Piece was buzzing over the weekend (July 5-7) as the Big Weekend attracted thousands of people.

The three-day festival of music and entertainment – organised by Cambridge City Council – had a stronger environmental focus this year, as visitors were encouraged to refill their water bottles for free at Cambridge Water’s pop-up water bar, or swap to reusables, and to use public transport, cycle or walk to the event.

Nearby, environmental campaigners Extinction Rebellion set up roadblocks around the Grand Arcade car park.

Friday night offered up an 80s-style party, with the master of funk, former Red Dwarf star Craig Charles, getting the proceedings under way with two DJ sets throughout the evening, playing his unique collection of classic 80s and 90s tracks.

Flamboyant party band Doctor and the Medics, of Spirit in the Sky fame, kept the party going, before disco legends Kid Creole and the Coconuts took the night up to the 10pm fireworks display.

Sue Walden, who attended, said: “The crowd seemed larger than normal – I think the sunshine helped.

"Doctor and the Medics, considering they’re only famous for one song, brought the house down really.

"They sang lots of covers, they were just full of energy and when it came to their main song, it was brilliant.

“Kid Creole and the Coconuts were fantastic and were very popular, with class and energy and soul.

"I noticed even under-20s knowing the words to the main songs as well, which pleased me – and the day culminated in fantastic fireworks.”

Sue added: “The singer of Doctor and the Medics commented on the Cambridge community really coming together and it being a perfect event for the community – and that’s exactly how it felt.”

On Saturday, there was a French market and the opportunity to find out more about French language and culture with Alliance Francaise, as well as more fun in the sports zone, storytelling with The Big Read, activities in the University of Cambridge Museums’ Make and Create tents and circus skills with Cambridge Community Circus.

On the main stage, the crowd enjoyed Legend – seven musicians and singers dedicated to the music of Bob Marley – and House Gospel Choir, an electrifying house-meetsgospel experience, along with pioneering DJ SonnyJi, renowned for his ‘Bhangra Mixtape’ shows on BBC Asian Network.

Further musical treats were provided by Cambridge ska institution Big 10, Cambridge Rock Choir, instrumental jazz fusion/rock from Cambridge band Will Pears Trio and Deep City, winners of the NMG band competition.

One festival-goer said: “The Big Weekend isn’t just about the music. The food is really good and there were some quite original stands.

"One of the busiest tents was the Arm tent – it was packed.

"There were maybe a dozen Raspberry Pi computers lined up and children and teenagers learning how to code on them, so there is room for other events and activities.”

He found the Extinction Rebellion roadblocks added to the atmosphere.

“At one point there were these drummers going down the street. They weren’t stopping the Big Weekend visitors from doing anything – in fact in some ways they were making it easier because you could just walk around the whole of the city centre as if it was one big festival site.

"I didn’t hear anyone complaining – it was a chilled day, there was no traffic and it was quite pleasant," he said.

Sunday featured a dance marquee showcasing styles of dance from Scottish Country dancing, Polish folk dance, belly dance and Lindy Hop.

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