Exciting news about the Cambridge Festivals

When we started our two Cambridge Festivals (The Science Festival and the Festival of Ideas), we had one aim – to create a platform to share the very best academic research taking place at the University of Cambridge with the public.

Over the past twenty-five years, we have done everything we can to create an unrivalled festival experience in truly unique settings, driven by a desire to do things differently.

Our festivals have become a hugely respected and valued part of the Cambridge cultural calendar and a very important route by which academics can share their research with a wider audience.

Running these annual events has not been without its challenges. The University is a complex institution and we have had fun adapting and reinventing the festival every year.

The Vice Chancellor tasked us in late 2019 to consider the festival format. We are now set to undertake our biggest reinvention– to a single festival for the University of Cambridge from the spring of 2021 to replace the existing Cambridge Science Festival and Cambridge Festival of Ideas. The new festival will be longer and have greater opportunity for family-focused events. This change was approved at the Research Policy Committee meeting in January 2020.

Our new festival will provide a space where we can highlight the interdisciplinary approach to research for which Cambridge is renowned, and give us all the time to develop collaborative activity with community groups, special interest groups and creative professionals and explore different formats for engagement.

To enable us to develop this exciting new festival we have made the difficult decision to take a breather – 2020 will be the last Science Festival. We will of course make sure it is the most outstanding festival to date!

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The October 2020 Festival of Ideas will not take place. This is to enable the required levels of resource allocation, consultation with researchers and audiences and brand development. We will use this time to work with you to create a fantastic new format for the new festival – which is set to take place from 26 March to 4 April 2021. It response to the challenges of public engagement in a Covid-19 setting, the Festival will be a digital first event. In – person events may take place, should Public Health England guidance change in time for programming changes.

Alongside one major festival, we plan to continue to run smaller scale events throughout the year, including Fun Lab at the Big Weekend, Open Cambridge – which has just finished it’s first year as a fully digital event you can find out more about that here – and a new Cambridge Christmas lecture. We want to work more collaboratively with the University of Cambridge Museums, and external organisations such as Cambridge Science Centre with the aim of reaching new audiences in different locations and through different formats around the region.  We will also be developing our Schools engagement programme and working in more places across our region.

We would very much like you to be part of this transition. Please do look out for further information from late summer 2020 onwards about how you can help us shape the new festival.

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