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What's On: The live local events to book now

Art, drama, comedy, hip-hop, classical: it's all coming up - and it's all live, as Louise Cummings reports


Shazia Mirza, Photo by Idil Sukan (48237929)
Shazia Mirza, Photo by Idil Sukan (48237929)

Famed for her searingly dry delivery and taboo-busting humour, Shazia Mirza is set to take on the burning issues of the day in her new comedy show, Coconut. The Muslim stand-up, who rose to fame in the wake of the September 11 attacks, when, dressed in hijab, she introduced herself with the line: “My name is Shazia Mirza. At least, that’s what it says on my pilot’s licence,” plays Cambridge Junction on July 24.

Hot on the heels of her critically acclaimed shows, With Love From St Tropez (‘a riot of Brexit, burqas and butt-plugs through the lens of The Periodic Table’), and blisteringly funny exploration of life, love and Jihadi brides, The Kardashians Made Me Do It, Coconut is sure to be brave, brilliant, seat-squirming satire at its best.

Find out more at junction.co.uk


Forty decorated cow sculptures and 45 miniature moos have been put out to pasture around Cambridge, encouraging visitors and locals to get moov-ving around the city. The Cows about Cambridge art trail, a collection of fibreglass cows featuring inspirational designs by regional artists, schools and community groups, launched on June 28 and will run for 10 weeks.

Due to go live in March 2020, the colourful discovery trail – which wends its way through streets, parks and open spaces – was initially postponed because of the first lockdown.

Produced by art event specialists Wild in Art, in partnership with children’s charity Break, Cambridge BID and Thameslink, the Cows about Cambridge trail – modelled on the Red Poll cattle that graze on Midsummer Common - is the perfect family-friendly pursuit.

Find out trail details at cowsaboutcambridge.co.uk


Build A Rocket at Town & Gown Theatre (48237809)
Build A Rocket at Town & Gown Theatre (48237809)

Recent graduates from Cambridge University, SandCastle Theatre Company, make their professional debut this month with Christopher York’s powerful one-woman show, Build a Rocket.

The rising stars of theatre, who have a passion for showcasing Northern voices, bring to life the painfully honest story of 16-year-old Yasmin, who finds herself pregnant and alone, having been abandoned by everyone she loves.

Set in the seaside town of Scarborough, York’s uplifting script is a universal salute to countless single mothers who give up everything to achieve the impossible. Confronting stereotypes surrounding pregnancy, poverty and privilege, it’s a poignant, moving and heart-warming celebration of triumph over adversity. We like.

Build a Rocket is at Town & Gown Theatre, Market Passage, Cambridge, July 19-22. Find out more at townandgown.co.uk/theatre


Extraordinary Objects Gallery (48237909)
Extraordinary Objects Gallery (48237909)

Where might you find a 68-million-year-old dinosaur skull, a Banksy sculpture, a Grayson Perry original and a meteorite that hit the earth around 4,500 years ago? Well, remarkably they’re all housed under one roof in Cambridge, at the Extraordinary Objects gallery in Green Street.

The new intriguing space, which celebrates curiosity and adventure, features a unique collection of artwork, sculptures, antiquities and natural history objects. Modern masterpieces sit alongside rare fossils, with each piece selected for the sense of wonder it evokes.

Artist Carla Nizzola, who managed one of London’s leading contemporary galleries and is a lifelong collector of art, natural history and curiosities, is the founder of Extraordinary Objects.

“The gallery is, in essence, an extension of my own personal collection; I believe works from different genres have an extraordinary way of complementing and elevating each other,” she says. “Watching people being blown away when they first see a piece in the collection is, for me, the best feeling; whether it’s a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite, or one of Banksy’s latest works that catches their attention. So, welcome all – come and ignite your curiosity in the heart of Cambridge!”

Pieces range from £100 to £100,000, though not all items are for sale, making them all the more enthralling.

Extraordinary Objects is at 14 Green Street, Cambridge. Visit extraordinaryobjects.co.uk


Strawberries and Creem make gender pledge, Picture Andre Gordon (48237931)
Strawberries and Creem make gender pledge, Picture Andre Gordon (48237931)

Cambridge-based Strawberries & Creem has become the first festival to sign up to a 50:50 pledge to champion gender equality and diversity in its music line-ups. The feast of hip-hop, R&B, afrobeats, dance hall, house and drum & bass - due to take place at Childerley Orchard, September 18-19 - has committed to the Girls I Rate (GIR) initiative, promising to curate a gender-balanced programme of acts, with women making up over half of those on this year’s roll call.

Various artists performing at Strawberries & Creem have also signed the pledge, including singer/songwriter Miraa May, Nigerian-born DJ and producer Cuppy, and renowned UK radio host Kenny Allstar.

GIR was founded by Grammy award-winning songwriter Carla Marie Williams, whose credits include Beyonce, Sean Paul and Britney Spears, and aside from pushing for an equal gender balance in the entertainment industry, aims to create safe spaces and educational programmes for women, particularly black girls and women in the UK, the Caribbean, and in Africa.

Find out more about Strawberries & Creem at strawberriesandcreem.com


Ely Cathedral, Picture James Billings (48237903)
Ely Cathedral, Picture James Billings (48237903)

Widely acknowledged as one of the wonders of the medieval world, Ely Cathedral has been inundated with visitors keen to drink in its rich heritage.

Awarded ‘Good To Go’ status – Visit Britain’s industry standard (marking the careful measures adopted to ensure a Covid-safe space) – Ely Cathedral welcomed more than 4,500 in its first fortnight of reopening.

Adventurous folk can take a tour of the 14th century octagonal lantern tower or trek the 288 steps to the top of the West tower, affording spellbinding panoramas across the sprawling Cambridgeshire landscape.

Throughout July, the globally-acclaimed work of art, Gaia – a 7-metre replica of planet Earth - will be suspended from high above Ely’s nave, as part of the larger exhibition, Heaven & Earth – The World in our Hands, which will incorporate Ely’s first ever Green Fair.

If you’ve not visited for a while, perhaps it’s time to head through those magnificent doors and see why Ely Cathedral has captivated so many and been the setting of major movies, from Elizabeth: The Golden Age to The King’s Speech.

Tickets for all tours and events must be booked in advance at elycathedral.org


It began as a series of organ recitals and has evolved into a festival of extraordinary live music from world-renowned soloists, chamber ensembles, choirs, and orchestras. Cambridge Summer Music Festival – which this year focuses on French and British music – will feature more than 30 concerts and over 100 incredible musicians, from formidable cellist Robert Max (playing all six of Bach’s Cello Suites) to brilliant young quartet Quatuor Confluence (taking on Schubert, Wolf and Ravel).

The captivating Faust Chamber Orchestra kick off proceedings on July 17 at West Road, playing Saint-Saëns’ whimsical Carnival of the Animals, narrated by violinist Tasmin Little, and Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings. Over the next fortnight, highlights will include performances by legendary English composer Gavin Bryars (don’t miss his acclaimed Sinking of the Titanic, recreating ghostly sounds of the doomed ship’s band as they slipped beneath the waves); all-male De Profundis choir (a tribute to Renaissance composer Josquin Desprez); Classico Latino (a feel-good mix of samba, bolero and tango); and eclectic pianist Joanna MacGregor (a kaleidoscope of compositions across centuries).

This year’s festival is accessible for the younger generation, with free tickets for all under 16s available and some complementary passes for under 25s.

David Hill MBE, the festival’s artistic adviser leads the Faust Chamber Orchestra in a closing concert

featuring two unforgettable pieces inspired by the City of Light – Delius’ Paris: Song of a Great City and Gershwin’s An American in Paris, plus works by Debussy and Dukas. A fitting finale.

Find out more about Cambridge Summer Music Festival, which runs July 17-31, Covid restrictions permitting, at cambridgesummermusic.com


Named after a misheard lyric from a Nick Cave song, SeaGirls are emerging as one of the UK’s most exciting indie rock bands. After signing a major record deal with Polydor, they’ve toured the globe, triumphed at Reading Festival and played their biggest UK show, selling out London’s Forum.

Famed for their energetic performances and having had heavy Radio 1 support on tracks including Violet, Damage Done and the anthemic All I Want To Hear You Say, now is the time to see them live at Cambridge Corn Exchange, where they’ll be supported by new voice of anti-pop, Baby Queen.

SeaGirls play Cambridge Corn Exchange, October 12. Book tickets at cambridgelive.org.uk


Brian McFadden at The Apex Bury (48237805)
Brian McFadden at The Apex Bury (48237805)

From Spanish guitar wizard Marcos Rodriguez and catchy five-piece Lindisfarne (remember that Gazza collab?) to Bootleg Blondie, there’s an eclectic live music line-up at The Apex this summer. July highlights include an acoustic set of solo hits and soul classics from former Westlife singer Brian McFadden and The Sound of Springsteen, whilst August offers up The Total Who Show (rock out to My Generation and Won’t Get Fooled Again); much-loved five-piece Lindisfarne, giving a masterclass in mandolin, fiddle, electric blues and roots; and a one-day Blues Rhythm & Rock Festival, featuring the likes of Chantel McGregor, Dana Gillespie and the London Blues Band, Kyla Brox, When Rivers Meet, The Ryk Mead Band, and The Cinelli Brothers.

The Apex is at Charter Square, Bury St Edmunds. See the full line-up at theapex.co.uk


The ancient craft of farriery continues to flourish – but if you’ve ever wondered just what it takes to get all four shoes onto a thoroughbred, head to the National Horseracing Museum for a demo.

Gavin Moody, who has 25 years’ experience as a farrier, working with some of racing’s most prestigious yards – will showcase the art of horseshoe making on Saturday, July 24.

International jockey Jimmy Quinn is kindly lending Gavin his horse, Star, to volunteer for the shoe fitting.

After the demo, why not check out the museum’s latest exhibition - George Denholm Armour: A life illustrated. Armour was regarded as one of the outstanding sporting artists of his time, adept at capturing movements, form and gesture - and the museum has been loaned a collection of his drawing and watercolours dating from the 1870s to the 1930s, on display until August 8.

Find out more about both events at nhrm.co.uk


Cambridge Film Festival audience,Tom Catchesides (48237813)
Cambridge Film Festival audience,Tom Catchesides (48237813)

Awesome news for movie buffs – Cambridge Film Festival is set to go ahead in November – as a physical event! Fans of the silver screen can look forward to a diverse programme of more than 40 films, being shown at Cambridge Arts Picturehouse, November 18-25. These will include UK premieres of new features, classic retrospectives, insightful documentaries, discovery titles from the global stage, family favourites, plus short films, and several international film festival winners.

Organisers have also launched an exciting new Friends and Patrons scheme for those passionate about the industry, with three levels of commitment: Friend of CFF, VistaVision Patron and Cinemascope Patron. Benefits include advance notification of events, an invite to the opening night Gala and patron’s dinner, special film events and an opportunity to get involved in the future direction of the Cambridge Film Festival.

Launched during lockdown, the Cambridge Film Festival at Home initiative – offering online film events and a pay-what-you-can-afford pricing structure – has also continued to prove popular.

Find out more at camfilmfest.com


Comedy of Errors, Picture abelthephotographer.co.uk (48237895)
Comedy of Errors, Picture abelthephotographer.co.uk (48237895)

Parting with Cambridge Shakespeare Festival last summer was such sweet sorrow, as it fell casualty to lockdown restrictions, and had to be cancelled. However, this month, look out for actors in full Elizabethan regalia strolling through the city streets, as the festival is set to go ahead in all its glory, throughout July and August.

Celebrating its 34th year – the much-loved drama extravaganza sees Shakespeare’s finest plays brought to life in Cambridge University’s college gardens, attracting more than 30,000 visitors.

Highlights this year will include the Bard’s brilliant farce of mistaken identity and slapstick frivolity, The Comedy of Errors, in Downing College; the tragic courtship of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers in Romeo & Juliet at St John’s College Scholars Garden; and Macbeth’s descent into the abyss in the moon-bathed Trinity College Fellows’ Garden.

So pack up your best picnic blanket, a punnet of fresh strawberries and a bottle of fizz for an evening of exquisite Elizabethan drama.

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival runs July 12 – August 28. Full details at cambridgeshakespeare.com

Picture: abelthephotographer.co.uk

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