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What to enjoy at online Open Cambridge 2020




From medieval chapels, 21st century eco-mosques and the golden age of Cambridge sport, to live experiments and a surprise yarn-bomb installation, Open Cambridge – part of the Heritage Open Days scheme – is a celebration of all things old and new.

And this year, for obvious reasons, Open Cambridge, for which the Cambridge Independent is a media partner, is taking place online, starting this weekend (September 11-13) with a series of live-streamed, interactive events.

Cambridge Central Mosque. Pic by MORLEY VON STERNBERG (42159974)
Cambridge Central Mosque. Pic by MORLEY VON STERNBERG (42159974)

Two events that particularly capture the diverse mix of this year’s offerings are presented at two places of worship. In Building Stone of King’s College Chapel and relevant medieval Cambridge (2pm-3pm, Friday), 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.

And in Cambridge Central Mosque: Exploring Europe’s First Eco-Mosque (4pm-4.30pm and 4.30pm-5pm, Saturday, September 12), 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 a 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 garden, designed by Emma Amina Clark, while Virtual Guided Tour (4.30pm-5pm) is a live guided tour inside the building.

Enjoy Plants Alive: Explore and Experiment! from the Sainsbury Lab at Open Cambridge 2020
Enjoy Plants Alive: Explore and Experiment! from the Sainsbury Lab at Open Cambridge 2020

Cambridge is recognised globally for its impact on science, and two live-stream events at this year’s Open Cambridge offer viewers an insight into this world. One of the events is presented by researchers at the Sainsbury Laboratory.

During Plants Alive: Explore and Experiment! (2pm-3pm and 4pm-5pm, Saturday, September 12), 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 the high-tech equipment in action and take a close look at plant life in a way you may not have done before. Tickets must be booked for this event.

Get fascinating insights into the city at Open Cambridge 2020
Get fascinating insights into the city at Open Cambridge 2020

This year also includes 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 this Friday (September 11).

Another addition to this year’s event 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 Friday.

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.

Open Cambridge co-ordinator, Sue Long, said: “This year’s programme has been a really interesting challenge for everyone involved in Open Cambridge as we have started working in completely new ways. However, I think it is a fantastic programme that represents our city.

Enjoy great photography as part of Open Cambridge 2020
Enjoy great photography as part of Open Cambridge 2020

“One example of the calibre of events is the live tour of the world-renowned Sainsbury Laboratory. The tour offers viewers the amazing chance to have a behind-the-scenes look into parts of the laboratory not normally accessible to visitors. You get to see some of their high-tech equipment in action and take part in a microscope investigation.

“Another event not to miss is the gorgeous film from the Cambridge Community Growing Group, who present the varied and beautiful community gardens of Cambridge and show how lockdown has inspired communities to grow stronger through gardening.

“We truly hope everyone enjoys watching and learning this year and we very much look forward to welcoming them back in person next year.”

Access to each event is available via the Open Cambridge website. Following each presentation, recordings are available for viewing until 6pm on Sunday (September 13).

For the full programme and to book/register, visit opencambridge.cam.ac.uk . You can also keep up to date with the festival on social media via Twitter and Instagram.

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