The kids are back to school to it’s all about you, you, you! So get your diaries at the ready, it’s a busy old month in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. 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
It’s harvest time and that means… getting stuck behind super slow, dusty combines, a multitude of massive spiders pitching up in your house (and hearing my screams across East Anglia!), oh and on a more positive note, food and drink festivals galore.
The foodie feast kicks off in Cambridgeshire on 13 – 15 September with the Shepreth Beer & Music Festival for the 6th year running at The Plough. Expect to feel a fuzzy head the next day after working your way through cask ales, craft beers and a huge craft cider selection. Friday is all about acoustic and electric blues bands with fish and chips; Saturday is the Folk Festival with an all-day feasting table and Eclectic and World Music day with Giant Yorkshire pudding roasts.
The same weekend (14 – 15 September) Newmarket is showing off its gourmet wares with a Food & Drink Festival in the Palace Gardens. There will be over 30 stalls of locally-grown food and street food from the region to work your way through. Chow it all down to the soundtrack of live music from the main stage in the gardens.
Then it’s time to drag your few pounds heavier body to Parker’s Piece in Cambridge on the 21 – 22 September for the Autumn Food, Craft and Produce Fair. Grab your prize courgettes and tomatoes, homemade jams, cakes and flower arrangements and enter them into the quintessentially British show. If you’re not quite at the level to enter produce there are a load of cookery demos you can attend to learn some culinary skills. Cambridge’s Great British Bake Off star Ian Cumming Cambridge’s is headlining (apparently is it possible to headline a food festival these days!)
Back over into Suffolk and Ipswich is hosting the Art Eat Festival on the 21 – 22 September at the Waterfront. It does what it says on the tin – you eat amazing street food as you look at art, more specifically three large urban art murals as well as a large-scale urban textile installation.
Next up is Woodbridge‘s turn with their Beer & Gin Weekend at The Cherry Tree Inn on the 27 – 29 September. Beer, gin, A Chilli Shack and live music – what more could you want?
Hot foot it over to Aldeburgh on the 28-29 September to finish off a gourmet month in style at their Food & Drink Festival at Snape Matings. This one has been going for 14th years and is a well-oiled machine of over 100 Suffolk producers, demonstrations from top chefs like Thomasina Miers and Chetna Makan, masterclasses, an Adnams Drinks Experience and the Hillfarm family meadow. Not to be missed!
A word of warning, if you take your children to see this fabulous stage version of Enid Blyton’s much-loved school-based book, Malory Towers at Cambridge Arts Theatre from 4 – 7 September they might just ask if they can go to boarding school too! It’s a great production for kids aged 8+, with lots of singing, dancing, naughtiness and midnight feasts, plus it’s perfectly timed to get them into the back to school spirit.
Want to see how fast it’s possible to sing? Catch the Pirates of Penzance at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds on the 16 September and hear the National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company with the National Orchestra perform a stellar attempt at the much-loved Modern Major General song. You’ll be humming the catchy tunes and swashbuckling songs all weekend!
From comedy to thriller… embark on a journey of intrigue and deception with The Classic Thriller Theatre Company’s adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film, The Lady Vanishes from 16 – 21 September at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds or The Arts Theatre, Cambridge on 30 September.
POSH, the play, (17 – 21 September at the Cambridge Arts Theatre) is all about secrecy and scandals in the university elite – so rather topical when you consider who’s running the country at the moment! Laura Wade is the writer so expect hilarity, and Tyger Drew-Honey stars in it – you know the talented child star from Outnumbered – so also expect awesome acting.
Celebrating 50 years since the film was released, the ADC Theatre has a fabulous 10-day run of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from 18 – 28 September. There’ll be child catchers and flying cars galore and scenery that’ll take you straight back in time to post-war Britain and a fantastical land with even more incredible characters. Not to be missed!
Love a bit of audience participation? Then get yourself down to the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft on the 18 September and let hypnoptist extraordinaire Robert Temple have his magical way with you! There’s no people clucking like chickens in this 21st century version of hypnotism – just hilarious sketches and risqué acts. Go on, enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame (oh did we mention you’ll be asleep)!
Been gripped by the book and watched the film? Now, it’s time to see this fascinating story on stage. The Girl on the Train comes to the Cambridge Arts Theatre from 23 – 28 September. If you’re anything like me you’ll have forgotten the many twists and turns of this plot by now and will find this stage adaptation just as fascinating as the first time you read it.
More from the winning team of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (seriously do they ever write a duff book?!). Freckle Productions’ Tabby McTat Live at Bury St Edmunds’ Theatre Royal from 25 – 26 September is a great introduction to theatre for first-timers, lasting just an hour. Tabby McTat loses his friend and sets off on a journey to find him – heartwarming and full of lovely original songs.
September isn’t just about harvest festivals and great theatre – it’s the month of the open weekend, where you get to snoop around all the places you wish you could see inside the rest of the year. Nosey parkers can start their snooping (ahem, historical education) in Cambridge on the 13 – 14 September at Open Cambridge and what a fascinating place to discover. You can unearth the city’s hidden treasures and get an eyeful of everything from the Mosque on Mill Road and the Marshalls’ hangars to Cambridge Fire Station and the many beautiful colleges.
On the 14th it’s also Open Eddington, one of Cambridge’s newest districts. Here, it’s less history and more free activities, talks, tours, live music and entertainment for the whole family, as well as a street food market with some of the region’s favourite food trucks.
Always wanted to see behind the scenes of our region’s famous racing town? Well, now ‘s your chance as Newmarket is hosting the Henry Cecil Open Weekend on the 21 – 22 September to raise money for local charities. You’ll be able to visit trainers’ yards, have tours of the British Racing School, visit the Newmarket Equine hospital as well as a whole host of other private parts of this amazing industry. There’ll also be a dog show, tug of war and show jumping!
Summer might be over but there’s certainly no let up on the festival front. Start the cultural tour at Ipswich’s One Big Multicultural Festival on 1 September in Alexandra Park – a great way to see out the summer with a bang. There’ll be world music, cuisine sport, fairground rides and children’s entertainment.
It wouldn’t be autumn without a good old harvest festival and this one on 1 September has an historical slant – Harvest Past, at Peak Hill Farm in Leiston. It’s a true celebration of Suffolk’s farming heritage with classic engines, vintage cars, motorbikes (err not sure what they have to do with farming, but I’m a bit of a townie so who knows), a slow tractor race, a best tractor competition, plenty of farm animals and of course the amazing Suffolk Punch. There’s also BBQs, camping, a pop-up tearoom with homemade cakes – delish.
If you’re on Instagram you can’t fail to notice that dahlias are having a bit of a moment, and rightly so, they’re absolute stunners. See these colourful blooms in their full rainbow glory at the Dazzling Dahlias Festival at Anglesey Abbey from 9 – 29 September. As well as trying to get that perfect insta shot of over 70 varieties, you can add to the impressive dahlia line, from the driveway through to South Glade.
Next up, it’s HighTide Festival in Aldeburgh from 10 – 15 September – a celebration of theatre and live performances that has quite a history of launching the careers of British playwrights, so you might just see the next Harold Pinter.
Haven’t been to the The Willow Tree in Bourn yet? You’re missing a treat. Bundle the family into the car on the 14 – 15 September and head to their end of summer festival – Willowfest – a weekend of live music, craft, comedy, face painting, inflatables, arts and crafts and a whole load of amazing local food and drink options. Hmm, so much for that start of September detox we had planned!
Enjoy a bit of twitching? No not the curtains you nosey neighbour, we’re talking about bird-watching and how lucky we are to have RSPB Minsmere in the region. And now, there’s an entire festival to celebrate this fact on 15 September – the inaugural Love Minsmere Festival (oh it’s also a big old message to tell EDF to back off with their plans to open Sizewell C, but let’s not get political!). There’s free entry for the day to everyone who RSVPs, guided walks and local food and drink stalls, plus at 1pm everyone will get together to create a massive human heart – take that EDF.
Another festival that’s got a heartfelt feeling at it’s core – the Love Local: Pop Up Evening on 12 September at The Matings in Ely. Over 25 local independents come together with a range of stalls to shop while you enjoy a glass of fizz and listen to the live music. Muddy Stilettos approves!
Live near Cherry Hinton? Then you’re in for a treat. From the 14 – 21 September it’s the Cherry Hinton Festival, lots of different events from a Bake Off to a BBQ to Bingo (and many other things that don’t necessarily begin with a ‘b’).
This is Cambridgeshire, so of course there’s a Festival of Cycling! Get your bike out, pump up those tyres and join in the many social cycle rides, talks and practical maintenance classes throughout September. There’s something on pretty much everyday throughout the month – a fun way to get fit.
Oh Britain, we do love you for your absolutely mad events – and the next completely bonkers, but absolutely hilarious one comes in the form of the Duxford Soapbox Derby on 1 September. The mad dash around the village, by would-be Lewis Hamiltons, in homemade machines (we’re talking old iron baths on wheels and covered wheelbarrows) raises money for Cancer Research and is also just a really fun spectacle.
Watch man’s best friend rounding up sheep and obeying every command at the Sheepdog Trials at Suffolk Food Hall on 7 – 8 September and wonder why you can’t even get Fido to sit! While you’re there is would be rude not to visit the Food Hall and stock up on the amazing local produce from the farm shop.
What’s that banging sound you can hear? Oh you know just the annual Dragon Boat Race in Cambridgeshire! This year the 15th instalment of this fun water sport is on 7 September and starts at Ditton Meadows in Fen Ditton. If you don’t fancy taking part/ falling in the River Cam then there’s plenty on dry land for spectators to enjoy too.
A nice genteel walk around Cambridge’s colleges more your style? Then register to take part in the 18th Bridge the Gap Walk on 15 September in aid of Arthur Rank Hospice Charity. The walk starts on Parker’s Piece and follows a scenic route through the colleges – with a tour guide on hand to impart all those fascinating facts we all should really know about our city!
More cycling this month, this time in Suffolk with the rather picturesque Suffolk Coast Bike Ride on the 15 September. This not entirely fit editor has taken part in the event many times and made it round the 65 miler (with extreme saddle sore I might add), but if I can do it… The route starts at Little Glemham Hall near Woodbridge and winds through pretty villages towards Dunwich. There’s also a 35 mile route and a 100 mile for the lycra-clad crew.
It’s Splat Quack GO on the 16 September in Woodbridge and the name is enough to pique our interest. Ok, so there’s no squashing ducks and running away before you get caught involved, it’s actually Suffolk’s muddiest mud run – a 6 or 12 km fun adult size obstacle course through all sorts of terrain including bogs, so you’ll of course end up very muddy! Might we suggest stilettos aren’t the best footwear for this one though.
ART & CULTURE
Independent art gallery Byard Art on King’s Parade are are hosting their 3rd Sculpture exhibition in from 5 – 29 September. Think sculpture isn’t for you? You can’t fail to fall for the beautiful pieces on show like these super cute and lifelike elephants above. See these and a range of other sculptures from six local, national and international sculptors.
Got a Fireman Sam fan in the family? Take them to the Cambridge Fire Station Open Day on 13 – 14 September, where they can see real life fireman in action (and so can you for that matter, behave yourself!) get up close to the engines and see behind the scenes of one of our most vital services.
What is it about kids and unicorns these days? They’re obsessed. Take them to see the real things (well, horses with horns at any rate) at Easton Farm Park’s Magical Unicorn Weekend on 28 – 29 September. Expect lots of sparkle, glitter and unicorn based activities.
NEW EXHIBITION: William Blake, Tate Britain, London, 11 Sept – 2 Feb 2020
Poet, painter and printmaker William Blake has created some of the most iconic images in British art. This new exhibition, the largest of Blake’s work for almost 20 years, will feature over 300 original works, as well as an immersive recreation of the small domestic room in which Blake showed his art in 1809. Other pieces will be digitally recreated on an enormous scale. tate.org.uk
FESTIVAL: Emerge Festival, various London locations, 27 – 28 Sept
Dubbed as ‘Night at the Museum meets Glastonbury’ this new arts festival, hosted in venues across London, features 30 ‘late’ events from music, performance, poets, DJs and cocktails. The aim of the game? To visit as many as you can – a ticket gets you a wristband that gives you entry to every single event on the night. See the full line up here. emergefestival.co.uk
NEW EXHIBITION: Tim Walker: Wonderful Things, V&A Museum, London, from 21 Sept