Right, grab a cuppa and settle in because we’ve got so many festivals this month, my Hunter wellies are in danger of getting worn out… First up is Hifields Festival at Dullingham Polo Club on the 6 July. Saddle up for some serious fun, dust off your flower crown and inhale some incense – this festival is all about flower power and celebrating love and peace over some awesome live music. Inhibitions are not welcome here (*downs two shots of vodka before entering*), and you’re encouraged to ‘dance like nobody is dancing’ – excellent, that’s my favourite kind! The next occasion to rock those ripped denim shorts is a slightly more sedate affair, NFest19, the Needingworth Music Festival on 6 – 7 July at Needingworth Village Hall. Seventeen acts will grace the two stages and there’s something to get everyone’s toes tapping: Rock, Soul, Blues, Folk, Psychedelic, and Country.
All together now: “Cam…bourne to be wildddddd”. Not sure it’s going to trump the original, but it’s certainly got a ring to it, don’t you agree? On 6 -7 July it’s the Cambourne to be Wild festival, The Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust’s first summer festival at Cambourne Business Park. It’s a family-friendly event, so you can get the little ones appreciating good music and learning to support wildlife in one fell swoop. Saturday is the upbeat dance night with Magic Queen (above) headlining, while Sunday is more chilled with a gospel choir and ukulele bans. Expect lots of food stalls, a fun fair, wildlife trails, willow weaving and an arts hub too.
Ely certainly knows how to make the most of its riverside location with it’s annual AquaFest on 7 July. 2019 marks the 41st year and it’s spread across three sites: Lavender Green, Jubilee Gardens and the Maltings Green. So, what’s an AquaFest then? Well, there’s all the usual festival staples (fun fair, beer tent, burger bar and a miscellany of charity stalls, craft and business stalls), plus the main event – the Raft Race on the River Ouse. It doesn’t get much more British than this (except that time I stumbled across the annual bed race in Knaresborough!) as numerous decorated rafts race down the river or simply try to stay afloat.
Got a toddler who’s getting bored of simply wiping sticky fingers on your kitchen cupboards? Then head over to Newmarket’s Rowley Mile Racecourse on Sunday 7 July, and you’ll find the perfect way to tire them out at this awesome kiddy event – TOTFest2019 (yes that’s right a festival for babies!). All the best baby and children’s businesses across the area come together in a riot of colour and noise, that your little ones will love. Think live shows, baby football, live size Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol characters, fairground rides and crazy golf. Go on, you might just enjoy it too!
Something wicked this way comes… and I mean ‘wicked’ in the used-to-mean-awesome-circa-1998 way – it’s Cambridge’s Shakespeare Festival from the 8 July – 24 August at various university college gardens throughout the city (how posh is that sentence!). Hamlet kicks off the proceedings at King’s College Gardens on the 8th.
Huge hats and poke-your-eyes-out-fascintors at the ready. July can only mean one thing… it’s Ladies Day at The Moët & Chandon July Festival from 11 – 13 July at Newmarket Races. The sparkling name alone has us reaching in the back of the wardrobe for our hat boxes. The racing highlight is the Darley Cup (Europe’s leading sprint race) on the Saturday, but the fashion stakes are higher on the Thursday for Ladies Day. Go easy on the bubbles during the day – Nick Grimshaw is hitting the decks for the après-racing party and you don’t want to miss that. (Here at Muddy Cambs we’re giving tickets away to Newmarket Nights – enter to win now).
Summer means carnival time and Cambridgeshire puts on a colourful show in pretty St Ives from 12 – 14 July. The St Ives Carnival and Music Festival kicks off with an outdoor cinema showing of The Greatest Showman (take your ear plugs, I can’t help but sing This is Me at the top of my less-than-tuneful lungs). Saturday is parade day followed by Proms in the Park in the evening and then the music festival takes place on Sunday. I’m exhausted just writing about it!
Loved The Da Vinci Code? Then you’ll want to give this brand new reading concept a go. Riddle of the White Sphinx is the first book in the Hidden Tales series, illustrated adventure books funded by the Arts Council of England for children 8+. In true Dan Brown style readers have to solve mysteries in a fantasy world by following a trail of clues to local museums to discover a secret artefact hidden somewhere in their city. Naturally, our amazing city of Cambridge was chosen for the first book because of its many museums and colleges. Want to get to find the hidden artefact first? The book launch is on 20 July at Heffers and there are weekly craft activities with special guest appearances from four of Cambridge’s Museums and their collections in August.
All the way from Brooklyn, Sharon Van Etten, graces the Cambridge Junction with her electro-infused presence on 2 July. She’s promoting her latest album, Remind Me Tomorrow, an exploration of “the life that gets lived when you put off the small and inevitable maintenance in favor of something more present”, also known as just really lovely vocals to untrained ears like mine!
Is it even summer in Cambs without the Big Weekend on Parker’s Piece. We think not! This year the whole city will come together on the first weekend of July (5-7) for a live music extravaganza and fireworks display extraordinaire. The fun starts on Friday night, with a nostalgia-packed eighties party (shell suits and leg warmers encouraged) featuring Doctor and the Medics blasting out Spirit in the Sky, then it’s Craig Charles taking to the decks, followed by disco favourites Kid Creole and the Coconuts. Saturday and Sunday see French markets, a Sports Zone, The Big Read, an art tent, the Uni’s fun science lab and the Cambridge Mela (a celebration of Asian culture) descend on the park. Plus more awesome music. Check out the line-up here.
Pack a picnic (and we mean a serious one – seasoned festival goers at Heritage Live bring tables, chairs, candelabra, you name it…) and find your spot on the mount behind Audley End House on 12 – 14 July for a genteel evening of musical fun. This year the line-up is The Human League, plus ABC & Belinda Carlisle on the 12th; The Hives, plus The Fratellis, The Sandinistas & Cassia on the 13th and The Jacksons, plus Kool & the Gang and Boney M. on the 14th.
Sneaking into our summer of festival fun before the bigger Cambridge version is Ely Folk Festival on 12 – 14 July – a bijou folk and roots festival. You can camp on-site to make the most of the weekend’s acts, as well as the real ale bar, kids activities, morris dancing, ceilidhs and workshops. Folk-loving dogs are even allowed to attend.
Various venues, various dates – there’s something for every classical music lover at the classy Cambridge Summer Music Festival, from 12 – 27 July, that has been running for over 40 years. Themes this year are: music by female composers and music by Johann Sebastian Bach – with the launch event being the St John Passion and a performance of the complete Brandenburg Concertos. Be prepared to be blown away by the musical talent of some of our residents. Time to resurrect that school trumpet talent for next year perhaps (or was it just me that got stuck with the trumpet!)?
Are you ready to rock? Because the four-day Cambridge Rock Festival isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s at Haggis Farm (fast becoming Cambs’ answer to Glastonbury) from 25 -28 July, and you can expect an awesome mix of around 70 internationally-renowned rock, blues and prog acts alongside some seriously talented local bands and up-and-comers. There are two main stages – Ruby and Sapphire – where you can see the likes of Don Airey & Friends, Cats in Space, Winter in Eden and Atomic Rooster. Keep your energy up for all that head banging by working your way through over 100 real ales on offer.
If rock festivals aren’t really your thing, we’ve got something a little more refined for you: Jazz and Brass in the Parks taking place at Nightingale Recreation Ground on 21 July. Just turn up with your picnic and a rug for a relaxing evening of music from the Soham Comrades Band.
Muddy-Stilettos’-award-winning family attraction Hinchingbrooke Country Park is proving why it won on 6 July with one of the best family days out we’ve heard of in a long while – it’s Robin Hood Day and you’re invited to help the Sherriff of Nottingham capture Robin Hood & His Merry Men hiding in the woods with the chance to win a goody bag. Dressing up is encouraged (the kids, not you!), there’s unlimited bouncy castle-ing, archery classes, bow and arrow, swords, shields and kite making, a falconry display, and live chain saw demos. It all rounds off with an outdoor cinema showing of Disney’s Robin Hood.
What could be more Cambridge-y (I know that’s not a word, but you get my drift!) than a film festival that you reach by punts? At The River Cam Film Festival on 26 -27 July you can pitch up with your picnic at Scudamore’s Punt Yard and they’ll take you on a serene journey by punt down to the riverside screen to watch The Favourite or First Man. There’s live music to keep you entertained when Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone aren’t enthralling you with their intriguing love triangle or when you’ve stopped day-dreaming about Ryan Gosling, plus delicious hot food, an outdoor bar and garden games.
FOOD & DRINK
Ok, it’s the section you’ll all been waiting for. Where would we be without a food and drink festival in the diary? The gorging begins with Haddenham Beer Festival from 5 – 7 July (not to be confused once you’ve had a few with Haddenham in Oxfordshire, who are also having a beer festival on the same weekend). It kicks off with Festival Friday at the Ouse Valley Singles Club, before the family-friendly Super Saturday and Drinking Up Sunday (someone missed the alliteration memo). In other words – loads of amazing beers to try with live music as accompaniment.
Pah, just a weekend? We’ll raise you a week of feasting, say the food-loving folk of Houghton and Wyton, whose Feast Week runs from 5 – 14 July (that’s technically more than a week, but we’ll not be pedants). Expect bizarre English events like a scarecrow competition, duck race and the classic village fete (splat the rat etc.), as well as an American take on things with the Barn Dance. Anyway what about that feast? There’s a bake-off and every event throughout the week will have delicious food and drink stalls to keep you merry.
Not jetting off to Italy on your hols this summer? Fear not, you can get your annual fill of pasta, pizza, gelato and vino in none other than Peterborough at the Peterborough Italian Festival on 6 – 7 July in the City Centre. Ok, so there’s no Amalfi Coast views or dreamy Italian men dressed head to toe in Armani, but the Italian food is authentic and seriously tasty.
Prefer your spirits a little less fruity than limoncello? The following weekend, Peterborough says “ciao, Italy” and hello to the UK’s largest Gin and Rum Festival on the 12 -13 July in the Cathedral (it’s ok, Jesus loved the odd tipple with friends). There are over 60 runs and 60 gins to wet your whistle, as well as a resident DJ to get you in the mood for merriment. Might we suggest booking a taxi home?
Thurning Feast, which takes place on…whichever day the 25th of July falls on is a village food festival that brings the local community together in aid of raising funds for the upkeep of Thurning Village Hall and the Church of St James (because there’s nothing like a good old nosh-up to bring people together). Alongside great live music, a funfair and children’s entertainment, Thurning Feast is also a chance to taste multi-national foods and a fabulous selection of locally made cakes and teas.
Even if you don’t love a bit of Shakespeare, you can’t help but enjoy A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The George Hotel in Huntingdon until 6 July, in their atmospheric Jacobean courtyard (no need to shlep to The Globe when you live in Cambs). The bard’s most widely enjoyed play is performed by an am dram group, but they’re so good, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled across an RSC production.
Feel like it’s still forever until Strictly is back on our screens? Get your ballroom fix a couple of months early on 6 July when three of our favourites Giovanni, Aljāz and Gorka quickstep it onto the stage at the Corn Exchange. Grab your girly friends and marvel at the amazing bodies (oops, sorry I meant dancing talent) of these handsome chaps as they compete in a ballroom battle for their Here Come The Boys tour. Expect dance floor classics, live music and gravity defying dance moves.
Want to keep the kids entertained for an hour or so? Well, you can’t do much better than this. The lively West End production of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is coming to the Arts Theatre from 12 – 14 July. It’s a real family pleaser with the sort of story that you can follow and enjoy rather than feeling like you’ve inadvertently ingested magic mushrooms (I’m looking at you In the Night Garden). It’s a great score and the sort of show that will make your kids ask for more trips to the theatre.
If you’re not one of the 30 million people that have already seen the incredible Rocky Horror Show then you’d better hot foot it down to the Cambridge Arts Theatre from the 15 – 20 July. Featuring toe-tapping classics like Time Warp and men in leopard print budgie smugglers (ooh, errr!), it’s an absolute must-see.
If you like to be the one to discover the hot, new and downright unmissable in your area (of course you do, that’s why you’re reading Muddy Stilettos!) then you’ll love the Hotbed Theatre Festival at the Cambridge Junction from 19 to 21 July. This annual festival of new writing for the stage is an entire weekend’s worth of world premieres, international guest performance, new plays and workshops. A theatre-lover’s dream.
There’s a festival for everything these days, including one in Cambridge specifically for one-act plays! WriteOn Stage Festival runs from 23 – 27 July at The ADC Theatre, The Corpus Playroom and the Larkum Studio and features six one-act plays by local scriptwriters. It’s the group’s biggest project to date – go on, support your local talent and you might just discover the next Tom Stoppard.
Educating Rita, the Olivier Award winning classic story of Frank, a frustrated poet and dedicated drinker, and Rita, a hairdresser determined to broaden her educational horizons, comes to the Arts Theatre from 29 July – 3 Aug. Frank is played by non-other than Stephen Tompkinson of Wild at Heart, Drop the Dead Donkey and Ballykissangel fame.
You either love a risqué joke or cringe inside when a comedian crosses the line. If you’re of the former persuasion you’ll find this laugh-a-minute show, Jimmy Carr Terribly Funny at the Corn Exchange on 7 July, exceptionally entertaining, as Jimmy jokes about all kinds of terrible and crude things that most comedians won’t touch. Leave your political correctness at home! Let’s just hope he doesn’t find himself terribly funny too. Two hours of that laugh is enough to send anyone insane.
July is a bumper month for art lovers in Cambridge, because every weekend the community of over 350 artists in the area open up their studios for us nosey parkers to come and snoop around. Entry is free and it’s the perfect way to combine a walk around our beautiful city with discovering some talented local craftspeople.
It wouldn’t be summer without the odd Spitfire roaring overhead or a Tiger Moth casually doing some sort of aerial acrobatics. And on 13 and 14 July at IWM Duxford, you can step back in time to he hey day of British aviation,, as it’s the Flying Legends 2019 air show, where you can see all the classic planes your hearts’ desire. The show culminates in the finale Balbo formation when all the WWII fighters take to the skies to salute you in a mass flypast.