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What's On: Cambridge's virtual heritage weekend




Open Cambridge – the heritage weekend which celebrates all our city has to offer, from its world-famous Backs and exquisite gardens to its historic churches and museums - is going virtual this year. Louise Cummings finds out more

Trinity - Sir Cam (38088466)
Trinity - Sir Cam (38088466)

Do you have a favourite haunt in Cambridge? Maybe a narrow cobbled street that exudes history or a pleasant, picnic spot down by the River Cam? Perhaps you’re a tour guide with an entertaining anecdote about something that happened whilst navigating the city’s glassy waters via punt or a librarian who can wax lyrical about your favourite dusty tome? Well, don’t hide your light under a bushel – the organisers of Open Cambridge want to hear from you - and share your fascinating stories to a wider audience this September.

Open Cambridge heritage weekend – run by the Public Engagement Team at the University of Cambridge – attracts more than 15,000 people each year. Now in its 13th year, the annual three-day event shines a light on the rich heritage and history of the city, offering visitors a rare opportunity to peek at its hidden gems – and learn more about its extraordinary past.

Part of the national Heritage Open Days scheme, it offers special access to hallowed buildings and gardens normally closed to the public. Previous years’ events have included walks, workshops, tours and exhibitions at the ADC Theatre, the Marshalls’ hangars, Cambridge Fire Station, and Cambridge Mosque on Mawson Road.

St John's College Gate - Sir Cam (39147795)
St John's College Gate - Sir Cam (39147795)

This year, in response to the restrictions imposed due to Covid-19, Open Cambridge will become a virtual celebration, taking place September 11 to 13, and featuring a series of free online events, from podcasts and films to virtual tours, written stories, talks and strolls.

To help facilitate some of this thought-provoking content, the organisers have invited the community to get involved, by suggesting engaging, creative ideas that showcase people and places; by submitting photographs of Cambridge for an online gallery; and by penning short articles about an interesting or little-known feature of the city.

There’s two special interest areas to inspire contributions, which are this year’s Heritage Open Days 2020 theme of ‘Hidden Nature' and a second focus on sport and leisure.

An Open Cambridge tour (39147812)
An Open Cambridge tour (39147812)

People can also submit their favourite lockdown photo of Cambridge, ideally accompanied by a short story explaining the image – the best of which will be uploaded to the Open Cambridge website and social media sites as an online gallery during the festival weekend. The deadline for photographs of Cambridge and related short articles (500 words or less) is August 28.

“This is a hugely exciting opportunity for the whole community to come together and put on a fantastic online festival that presents Cambridge in a new way,” says Sue Long, Open Cambridge Coordinator. “We want people to get involved in this celebration of our beautiful city, the stunning architecture, exquisite gardens, and its rich past. We’re keen to showcase all Cambridge has to offer, its big and little wonders, and we are very much looking forward to people’s suggestions.”

Find out more at opencambridge.cam.ac.uk

To submit a photograph or story, email opencambridge@admin.cam.ac.uk


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