Diaries at the ready, it’s a busy old month in Cambridgeshire (and we may have snuck over the border to take our pick of what’s on in Suffolk too). The only problem is, how to choose which of all of these awesome events to go to? We say as many as there are hours in the day, sleep is overrated anyway!
FOOD & DRINK
Now how does this sound for an idyllic summer evening? Dine Among the Flowers – an eight-course seasonal locally-produced meal (cooked by Liz Young, ex head chef at Cambridge Cookery School) in the walled garden of Anna’s Flower Farm, accompanied by live jazz music on 16 Aug. Ok, so we all know that a fly will land in your wine and it’ll either be too hot or cold to sit out, but, you never know, sometimes the perfect evening can actually happen and we reckon this has a chance of being just that. As part of the weekend, there’s also a lunch on the Aaturday and a picnic on the Sunday, all surrounded by the beautiful blooms from the farm.
Hmm, is prosecco my favourite drink or is it gin? I just can’t decide. Good news is, this month I don’t have to as Peterborough’s Proscco and Gin Festival is on 9 Aug in Peterborough Cathedral – what a great idea to combine the two. Over 60 gins, a bar dedicated to the bubbly stuff and the beautiful surroundings of the cloisters… count me in. Hic!
Are you a game bird? Of course you are, you’re reading Muddy Stilettos! So you’ll be up for a bit of a taste adventure in the middle of the month at Bedford Lodge when they host the Glorious 12th on the 12 August funnily enough – the date that marks the start of the shooting season. To celebrate Squire’s Restaurant are hosting a feast including three menus all featuring grouse as the main course.
Perhaps beer is your tipple of choice? If so, you’ll say cheers to the news that there are not one, but two beer festivals in the county this month. First up is, Peterborough Beer Festival (wow, the Peterborough folk really do love a good knees-up!) from 20 -24 Aug at The Embankment. Next up, is Thrapston Beer and Cider Festival at Thrapston Sports Club on 23 Aug – so you can stumble your way from one to the other!
Time to wash all that booze down with some good food and… oh a bit more drink at the Bury St Edmunds Food and Drink Festival on 25 and 26 Aug. The whole town because a foodie fantasy land with celebrity chef talks, cooking demos, and more food and drink stalls than even the greatest gourmand could work their way around. Mini muddies won’t be bored either, as there’s a mini farm, a beach, a punch and judy show and fairground rides.
The final way to ensure you’ll never fit into those skinny jeans ever again is to round off a gourmet month with The GOG Centenary Family Picnic on 31 Aug at The Gog Farm Shop. Throughout the month, every Friday and Saturday at 6.30pm there’s The Sundowner Sessions (live music, food stalls and drinks as you watch the sun set), but the main event is the picnic – a village fete-style day of food, drink and family fun with a Kids and Adults Silent Disco in the evening.
Looking for a career change and think you’ve got green fingers? Book onto Cambridge Flower School’s Floristry Career course from 5 – 9 August, which is aimed at complete beginners, who are just starting out on their flower-filled (and early alarm calls) journey.
Now this is a cool concept for an art exhibition… the creative types at Kettle’s Yard have collected together all the amazing pieces of art from the University of Cambridge’s collection that are unattributed and have displayed them in the Sackler Gallery in Artist Unknown: Art and Artefacts from the University of Cambridge Museums and Collections until 22 September 2019. The pieces span centuries and come from all over the world – a stunningly decorated bark cloth from the Pacific Islands, a delicate engraving of a ship on a whale’s tooth and botanical watercolours. The good news for the artistically challenged like me… there’s no artist’s name that I need to pretend to have heard before!
There aren’t many things that could possibly make a summer stroll through Grantchester Meadows followed by lunch at one of the incredible pubs much more pleasant, except for a beautiful art exhibition to feast your eyes on en route. The Cambridge District Art Circle’s Summer Exhibition takes place from 23 – 25 Aug in Grantchester Village Hall, with tea and homemade cakes to enjoy while you admire the local talent.
Loved the BBC 1 show? Well, this week you can combine your passion for Peaky Blinders with Thomas Shelby’s fictional love of horse racing at Newmarket Racecourses’ first ever collaboration Peaky Blinder’s Race Day on 2 Aug. Dig out your flat caps, waistcoats and pearls (obvs, not all at the same time!) and expect a magical 1920- themed day, with incredible horsemanship on and off the track and plenty of Peaky Blinders surprises.
It’s not a British summer if you haven’t grabbed your wellies and trudged round a field full of animal pens and bought a load of random country wares (that you’re never going to need FYI). If you still need your country fair fix, head to the Fenland Country Fair on 25 Aug at Stow cum Quy Park where you can watch pigs being herded and admire vintage tractors to your heart’s content. There’s all the quintessential British madness you’d expect from falconry displays to ferret racing and fab food stalls and family attractions. Go on, you know you want to!
Your next exotic holiday a long way off? Get your fill of Pad Thai and err Ladyboy shows (that sounds so wrong!) on 5 – 6 Aug at Cambridge’s Parker’s Piece at the Magic of Thailand festival. As well as authentic cuisine and unique cultural shows, there’s a costume parade, Thai boxing competitions, Thai massage and a family fun fair (not sure this one is authentically Thai, but fun nonetheless!).
Missed Cambridge’s first Pride? Head to Ely’s instead, which is back for a second year at The Maltings on 10 Aug. Events include a great line-up of acts from all over the country, plus there’s an after party at Riverside Bar and Kitchen. Count me in!
While you’ve over that way it’s also Huntingdon’s carnival on 10 Aug at the Riverside Park. As well as the requisite parade that sets off at noon, there are community stalls, a funfair, free boat rides, arena acts, a spitfire fly pass, a dog show, face painting and lots of delicious food.
Tilbrook Festival on 23 Aug at The White Horse (one this year’s awards finalists!) raises funds for Huntingdon MS Society so you can eat and drink and spend your cash feeling no guilt at all. This year there’s four days of food, live music, limited edition gins and local beers to enjoy.
Ok, you’ll have to forgive me in advance for this one – I might as well be writing this in another language… on 24 – 25 Aug it’s the Cambridge Comic Con at the Junction. Get your geek on as famous faces from TV and film descend on the city as well as autos, photo ops, gaming, cosplay and much more.
Not too enamoured with the modern world at the moment (heatwaves, Bo-Jo… need we say more) then step back in time at the Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre on 31 Aug and 1 Sept at Quy Country Park. There’s all sorts of historical events to keep you entertained… horsemen of the knight performing tricks and jousting, a jester, re-enactment battles, witches, falconry and a brand new fairy glade – a magical area full of fun for the mudlets.
Just over the border into Herts and the final festival of the month is Cool Britannia at Knebworth Park on 30 Aug – 1 Sept. Cast your mind back to the time of the clash of Britpop titans (Oasis v Blur, obvs!) and you’re in the right ballpark for this one. On the Main Stage are the likes of James, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Basement Jaxx. Kids are welcome but you might want to go child-free to this one and re-live your youth raving into the small hours at the Ministry of Sound Stage.
This is Cambridgeshire, so of course there’s a festival of cycling! Get your bike out, pump up those tyres and join CamcycleQuest, a brand new bike-based treasure hunt around the city. You can get hold of CamcycleQuest clue booklet from the beginning of August and all answers have to be submitted by 19 September ready for the Camcycle Cargo Carnival on 21 Sept on Lammas Land. Prizes for those who crack the code include a £900 cargo bike e-conversion and cycling accessories. A fun way to get fit.
Tis the season of the soapbox derby and racing into our diaries this month is the Newmarket version on 25 Aug down Warren Hill with obstacles no less (let’s hope they add brakes to their designs). It’s the first derby to run in Newmarket since 1943, so anything could happen. Well worth it for a good old belly laugh!
If you prefer watching sport rather than doing it (*slowly raises hand*) Cambridge County Polo Club, nr Lode, is hosting several Polo & Picnic days for families this month (3 and 4 Aug and 24 and 25 Aug)- five pristine polo grounds, food trucks and, new for this year, a pitch side bar.
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.
Something wicked this way comes… and I mean ‘wicked’ in the used-to-mean-awesome-circa-1998 way – it’s Cambridge’s Shakespeare Festival until 24 August at various university college gardens throughout the city (how posh is that sentence!).
Can you think of anything better than an entire hour of Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy, and Makka Pakka making their bizarre noises and skipping round the stage. Thought not! But, we’re willing to bet your toddler will think they’ve gone to heaven if you take them to see In The Night Garden Live at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on 14 – 15 August, and just think you can have an hour’s kip – win, win. There are showings at 10am, 1pm and 4pm so one is sure to fit around your (ahem, your child’s) nap time!
Oh imagine if life was just as simple as worrying which suitor to choose. Fancy a bit of 19th century romance in your life, then head to Peterborough Cathedral on 30 Aug when DOT Productions recreates one of Austen’s classics, Sense and Sensibility on stage. Pass the smelling salts, it’s all a bit dramatic for me!
It wouldn’t be summer without Cambs’ annual Folk Festival at Cherry Hinton Hall from 1 – 4 August (seriously it wouldn’t – it’s one of the longest running folk festivals in the world). This year, Cambridge lad Nick Mulvey has taken over the mantle of Guest Curator, so stay tuned for new and exciting additions (and make sure to catch him on the main stage). If you like to be in-the-know about up and coming artists, there’s The Den, a stage for artists under 30, and The Hub, for young musicians to take part in workshops.
Didn’t make it to Ibiza for an annual clubathon this year? Nah me neither, funnily enough. Not to worry though you can get your dance music fix at Newmarket Nights on 2 August as Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong & The Heritage Orchestra blast out the very best tracks so you can dance the night away. Add awesome horse-racing and great, food and drink and we think this is a much more civilised way to get your Ibiza fix!
Not the likeliest of places for a good old head bang, but the normally quiet Fenland town of Wisbech is hosting a Rock Festival on 3 Aug. Headlining is The Real Thing, yes that’s real, and a whole host of other talented rock bands. It’s family-friendly (you might want to pack the noise reducing head phones!) and there are fairground rides, stalls and food to enjoy too.
Next to take to the mic is WestFest on 9 and 10 Aug – a free two-day music festival at The Royal Oak in Hail Weston (another of our Muddy awards finalists 2019 and last year’s winner!). The music ranges from Stadium Rock and Indie to Folk and Blues with a line up that includes Dead Kings, The Mojo Slide, Hittin’ 88, Maisie Blades, Let It Be Rock, The Mondays, Karl Hunter and Bob Hines, Who’s On First?, Fake News, The 55s and Smoking Angels. There’s also a mini beer festival on the side (because why not?!) and a BBQ on the Saturday to keep you fuelled for all the dancing ahead.
Want to hear a good bit of pub trivia? The Drifters are the longest-running singing group in pop history still performing live. They’e bringing their zimmer frames and false teeth (only joking they’ve still got the moves!) as well as their 50 plus worldwide hits to the Cambridge Corn Exchange on 24 Aug. If you love classics like Saturday Night At the Movies, Come on Over to My Place, Up On the Roof, Under the Board Walk, and Save the Last Dance for Me, book your tickets quickly before they’re all snapped up.
It might be small but that doesn’t stop Little Gransden hosting it’s own music event – LG Live at Little Gransden Airfield on 24 Aug. Local bands will be performing while air acrobatics take place overhead with fireworks on the aircraft! The event is based on the successful Bourn Festivals of the last four years but this one promises to be bigger and better yet.
The next in the series of Jazz and Brass in the Parks takes place at Jesus Green on 25 Aug. Just turn up with your picnic and a rug for a relaxing evening of jazz and blues music from Caxton Swing.
Then it’s on to Water Newton’s Music Fest 2019 on 25 Aug on the village green overlooking the beautiful River Nene. You can catch lots of local bands like the Caustic Lights, Right Said Reg, Penniless, Nick Corney & The Buzz Rats, and headliners The Houndogs. There’s also street food stalls and if you can coax a group of friends to join you, groups of 10 or more get a free bottle of wine or prosecco. Who’s with me?
Love the 80s and wish perms, shell suits and leg warmers were still in fashion? Yeah me too. Well for one night only you can transport yourself back to this fun-loving era at Martin Kemp’s Back to the 80s Party at the Cambridge Junction on Aug 30. The Spandau Ballet star is taking to the decks to spin all his favourite hits from the decade and it looks set to be a night to remember.
Dust off those cowboy boots and tasselled leather jacket and head to the pretty village of Kimbolton on 30 Aug for a proper old-fashioned knees-up in the grounds of Kimbolton Castle with country music band The Bellamy Brothers. More of a ballad fan? Then you’ll be delighted to here Ronan Keating is gracing rural Cambs with his presence on the 31 Aug. Maybe he heard the word castle and thought it was his sort of place, good luck when he bumps into the headmaster! You might end up in detention yourself if you bring the castle down with the epic partying that is sure to ensue.
Would you believe it, it’s been 40 (yes 4-0) years since The Undertones released their self-titled debut album ‘The Undertones’. And to mark this momentous anniversary, the Northern Irish lads are bringing their musical flair to the Cambridge Junction on Saturday 31 August. And, because we’re always supporting a good old night out here at Muddy Stilettos, we’re giving away a pair of tickets to the hottest gig in town. The lucky winners will be able to dance the night away to classic punk tracks like Teenage Kicks, Here Comes the Summer, Jimmy Jimmy, and Get Over You.
Movies on the Meadows, a four-day film festival at Grantchester Meadows from 23 – 26 Aug, is organised by the Cambridge Film Festival and it’s one of the biggest and most famous outdoor film events in the UK – lucky us! Although that means you have to share the gorgeous river meadows and big screen with several thousand others, it also means the facilities are second to none with lots of local vendors selling food and drink from their vans. Each night three films are shown at the same time on separate screens, so if like me you and your other half can’t agree on a film you’ll both like, you can branch off and watch different ones from this list: Bohemian Rhapsody (yes, again – apparently you can’t have an outdoor film festival without a showing of this film!), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Avengers: Endgame, Free Solo, Fisherman’s Friends, Mary Poppins Returns, Monterey Pop, How to Train Your Dragon – The Hidden World, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, American Graffiti, Dr Strangelove.
Roll up, roll up! The circus is coming to town. If your children love a bit of The Greatest Showman and the brand-new Dumbo, then they’ll be amazed to see all the amazing tricks of the shows in real life at The Fitzwilliam Museum from the Gossamer Thread Circus on 2 August. Acts include a girl who can dance in the air and the world’s bendiest man. After the show you can even learn some of the circus tricks yourself.
Tigers in Cambridge? You betcha. Shepreth Wildlife Park are celebrating their 15th Tiger Day on 4 Aug (it was originally started to celebrate the birth of their tiger, Amba). The event involves cake, a magic show, an auction, and the chance to meet lots of incredible animals and if you dare you can even win the chance to enter the tiger enclosure and meet the Sumatran tigers – Kelabu and Ratna! Its not all for the kids though, there’s also an expert panel of speakers including entomologist Dr Greg Dickens, wildlife photographer Tal Chohan and WildCats Conservation Alliance’s Esther Conway. Oh and watch out for tigers of a different variety – the wildlife park is also the last stop for the charity For Tigers, completing their 9 mile walk from Cambridge dressed as tigers.
CULTURE: Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Edinburgh, 2 – 26 Aug
Edinburgh’s cultural fandango kicks off this month and is well worth the trip way (way, way) up north with the whole city buzzing with creativity, comedy and theatre, arts, crafts and street performances. Far too many shows to list in detail (over 1,200 groups perform across the city each day!) but highlights include Ian Stirling (of Love Island voiceover fame), Russell Howard, Frank Skinner, plus loads more familiar faces. Full programme here.
NEW EXHIBITION: Sweet Harmony: Rave exhibition, Saatchi Gallery, West London, until 14 Sept
Rave on! This new photo exhibition explores the new world that emerged from the acid house movement in the ’80s and ’90s and the beginnings of rave culture. Photographers Tom Hunter, Vinca Petersen and Dave Swindells will be on hand at the Saatchi Gallery to explain the stories behind their iconic shots. saatchigallery.com
Exhibitions still on the go this month include a collection of Manolo Blahnik‘s work curated by the iconic shoe designer himself at The Wallace Collection (until Sun 1 Sept). Also on the fashion front is the Mary Quant retrospective at the V&A (Muddy’s been, it’s really cool), featuring over 200 of the seminal ’60s designer’s pieces (until 16 Feb). Or, also at the V&A is the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, a handful of tickets for evening slots have been added so snaffle quick if you want to go as it’s super popular (until 1 Sept).
Other exhibitions include the family-friendly Beasts of London, at the Museum of London, a fully immersive, digital installation exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London with the likes of Kate Moss, Brian Blessed and Pam Ferris voicing the animals which are brought to life using video projection mapping; the major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain with over 45 of the artist’s famous works including Starry Night on the Rhône and Sunflowers; if you’re heading up north, check out the Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool, a legend on the ’80s graffiti, pop art and underground club culture scene, the exhibit features 85 works including large-scale paintings, posters, photos and video. Very cool.
CULTURE: Muddy Stilettos Book Club Live, Phyllis Court, Henley, Sat 5 Oct
It’s back, baby! The Muddy team are returning to Henley Lit Fest (28 Sept – 6 Oct) this year with ashings of Prosecco, plenty of pizzazz and a panel of brilliant authors: actress, Celebrity Master Chef winner and Meant to Be author Lisa Faulkner, former deputy editor of Elle and How to be a Gentlewoman author Lotte Jeffs, and Five Steps to Happy debut novelist Ella Dove. Get your tickets pronto, last year was a sell out! henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk