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Fun things to do Suffolk and Cambs this month

As temperatures rise (hopefully) it's time to indulge in some al fresco fun in Suffolk and Cambridge. Get a fresh air hit in open-air theatres, landscape photography workshops and amazing aqua parks.

Want to know how to make the most of your spare time in July? We’ve been checking out where to find the good times this month and Suffolk and Cambs are brimming with them, from outdoor comedy to hot new hotels. 

MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH 

Graduate Hotel

The Muddy crew love a new hotel and the Graduate Cambridge, which has been teasing us with various opening dates, is finally opening on July 23 (a little bird reliably informs us!). Part of an American chain of quirky hotels known for their vintage-style chic in university cities in the US, it’s taken over the site of the former Hilton Doubletree and is definitely going to be a hot spot. Bedrooms look lush; think headboards upholstered in elephant print, original art work on the walls, Malin + Goetz Toiletries. However if you’re not planning on staying over, at the very least have a meal in restaurant Garden House for seasonal, local produce, we’re talking Norfolk quail and cured trout, washed down with a rosé. If you can, bag a table on the outside terrace which overlooks the River Cam, one of the best spots in the city for watching 

AL FRESCO FUN 

The Willow Tree Bourn

Ok it’s a bit like an eternal autumn at the moment, but summer really is here (promise) and that means plenty of opportunities to get outside and do stuff. 

Putting our faith in the weather gods, we’re booking tickets for comedian Sara Pascoe’s show at the Thorington Theatre in Suffolk as part of Stand-up Under the Stars. Sitting in this atmospheric new open-air amphitheatre in a wood is a great experience, so if you can’t make this performance take a look at what else is on the box office here.

Over in Cambs, comedians Hal Cruttenden and Nathan Caton are performing at Teehee At The Teepee (7 July), an outdoor comedy season at The Willow Tree Bourn‘s Secret Meadow. Make a night of it and dine on the terrace or one of the fairylight-clad domes first. Sara Pascoe’s also billed to play at some point over the summer (date tbc), spreading the love between Suffolk and Cambs, just how we like it.

The Willow Tree makes an ideal place to head with family btw – kids can play on swings beneath the (you’ve guessed it) giant willow tree while you relax with a Pimms in deck chairs before dining in the garden. The Little Willow menu’s great as kids love it and parents don’t feel guilty, think salmon, new potatoes and peas or macaroni cheese and garlic bread. 

Perhaps it stems from a childhood longing to go to drive-in movies like Sandy in Grease, but watching a movie outdoors in the summer always feels cool and Wherstead Park’s got a great choice of al fresco films, including A Star is Born (15 July) and Bridesmaids (16 July). 

When the sun’s shining (or even when it’s not), kids will love leaping around the inflatable obstacle course at Cambridge Aqua Park at Hannam’s Wake Hub. Anyone from six upwards can have a go (if they can swim up to 25 metres) so you might just be tempted to squeeze on a wetsuit and lifejacket yourself (both are provided free of charge).

Shhh…we’ve found a spot for wild swimming that doesn’t appear to be packed, so let’s keep it quiet, yeh? It’s by Houghton Mill on the River Great Ouse in Cambs and there’s plenty of shallow areas for little ones to paddle too. Smug Instagram post in-coming #wildswimming. 

HOT HOTELS 

The Fellows House Cambridge

Talking of hotels, The Fellows House Cambridge opened its doors on July 1. It’s the first Curio Collection by Hilton in the city and has 131 apartment-style rooms named after notable Cambridge fellows, like Gormley and Attenborough. It’s a stone’s throw from the River Cam and a short stroll from the centre. We’re liking the look of the spa which has a lovely indoor pool, steam room and sauna and Folio Bar & Kitchen for bites like roasted cauliflower steak. Or you might want to pop in to try The Sage of Cambridge, its hip little cafe serving smoothies, vegan salads and freshly baked bread by day, cocktails and wine after 5pm. 

University Arms has something new up its sleeve we’re keen to get involved with – a botanical experience. No, you won’t be squashing juniper berries, it’s actually a gin-based city escape, including an over night stay in one of the hotel’s swanky suites and a private gin masterclass at the Cambridge Distillery Lab (you get to create your own!), plus pre-dinner g&t in your suite and dinner in Parker’s Tavern. Yes please. 

Over at The Varsity Hotel cocktails on the amazing roof terrace are as in-demand as ever. If you manage to get some space, don’t miss the monthly Selfie Spot comp (runs until Sept). Simply stand on the white circle, snap your best pose and post to Instagram with #varsityroofselfie to be in with a chance of winning a free bottle of Prosecco. Cheers. 

FESTIVALS 

Latitude Festival tents
Latitude Festival Suffolk

We all know family-friendly Latitude Festival (22-25 July) at Henham Park’s the big one and if you haven’t been tempted to buy tickets yet, more names have been added to the line up to entice us, including Supergrass – we can’t deny the thought of dancing in the sunshine shouting the lyrics to ‘Alright’ isn’t appealing, though they had us at Mabel and The Chemical Brothers. Fashion designer Giles Deacon’s also now booked to speak in the Ballroom tent. See you in the hot house, the festival’s giant restaurant made from a polytunnel. 

If you’re more into classical, Cambridge Summer Music Festival (17-31 July) has something for all ages, including a Children’s Carnival (17 July), Cambridge Handel Opera Company (28 July) and the always impressive finale concert (31 July). 

And Sandi Toksvig, Grace Dent, Adoda Andoh and musician Tracey Thorn are just some of the famous faces lined up to speak at female-focused literary and ideas festival Primadonna (30 July- 1 Aug) in Stowmarket. 

LIVE AND LEARN

Food Hub Suffolk
Food Hub Suffolk

Love Thai food? Thought so. In which case snap up a full day (10am-3pm) Thai & Vietnamese workshop at Food Hub Suffolk (16 July). Learn how to whip up spring rolls, pad Thai noodle salan, Thai green curry and fragrant jasmine rice by Lilian Hiw, who’s worked at top hotels around the world including Raffles in Singapore. 

Keen on photography? Up your skills with pro snapper Gill Moon who’s taking various three-hour landscape photography workshop in July at some of the most jaw-dropping locations on the Suffolk Coast, including Shingle Street and Sizewell. Gill shows you how to capture spectacular flora, fauna and all the views, and don’t worry about fancy equipment, camera phones are fine.

FAMILY TIME 

IWM Duxford air show

Europe’s largest air museum IWM Duxford is holding its annual air show this summer (24-25 July) and it’s something all ages seem to enjoy, from tots to grandparents. There’s some genuinely impressive stuff on – it’s not just a load of old aeroplanes droning by – so even bored teens might be impressed by dare devil wingwalkers, tank demos, flight line experiences and parachute displays in the skies above. It’s fast-paced, noisy and you might think you’re doing this for the children, but you’ll be grinning like a kid yourself when the Red Arrows fly by in formation.

Or, head to Cambridge’s Museum of Zoology for the new Breaking Point exhibition, running throughout July, where clay art work inspired by environmental change is dotted amongst the always fascinating elephant, Komodo dragon and whale skeletons, taxidermy and specimens in jars.

Find more ideas here

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