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Family weekend of fun and inspiration back for another year at the Cambridge Festival

Cambridge Festival’s family weekend is back for another year and bigger than ever. Join us on 25 and 26 March 2023 for a weekend of free talks, workshops and hands-on activities for the whole family!

From Australian animals to African storytelling, from bird poo to virtual reality; this is a weekend full of ideas to spark your curiosity and imagination.

Who’s going to laugh loudest… Elephants or Pumpkins? Girl or Wolf? Monkey or God? Who’s going to win… Monkey or Shark? Tortoise or Lizard? In WHO'S GOING TO LAUGH? (WITH ATINUKE) children can enjoy listening to folktales from the African continent told by award-winning oral storyteller and best-selling children’s author, Atinuke.

Mathematics permeates every aspect of science and technology, but it’s easy to forget that mathematical ideas and techniques were invented and discovered by human beings. In
MATHEMATICAL STORIES WITH KATIE STECKLES, she shares the stories of those who spent months, years and even lifetimes developing the maths we use today, and explores how their lives and work across centuries are all connected through numbers.

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, out in the deep blue sea, lie a cluster of islands unlike any other – the Galápagos archipelago. In SCIENTISTS IN THE WILD: GALÁPAGOS, marine biologist Dr Helen Scales will present her brand-new book about a team of scientists who are tasked with studying and protecting the islands’ amazing wildlife. They tag tiger sharks, count penguins and launch a deep-diving submersible to explore the dazzling underwater wonders of Galápagos. Expect to learn all about the special mix of species that live in Galápagos and nowhere else on Earth, and how scientists are working hard to safeguard them for the future.

The book is aimed at readers aged ~7+ years, and Helen’s talk will be suitable for all ages.

On Sunday 26 March between 11am and 12pm will be our ACCESS HOUR. This is a quieter time for those children and families who have an autism spectrum diagnoses to enjoy our hands-on activities in an environment that is less stressful for them.


for a fun and informative interactive show as we journey around the human body, discovering wonders along the way. Explore some oddities relating to our vision and hearing, glimpse how our brains process information, consider how we can trick our senses, find out some of the things that make us unique individuals, examine our heart beat, investigate our muscles and delve (metaphorically!) into the workings of our intestines and their output!

This will be a relaxed show suitable for those with an autism diagnosis and their family. The audience size will be smaller, doors will not be closed and audience members are welcome to come and go as they wish.

After 20 years of working in natural history museums and searching out wild mammals around the world, zoologist and author Jack Ashby has decided that platypuses are the best animals to have ever evolved. They are the only mammals that can produce venom, detect electricity and lay eggs. And wombats are a close second: their teeth never stop growing, they poop cubes and they defend themselves with reinforced rears. In fact, Jack thinks that all of Australia’s mammals are the best in the world.

But, despite Australian animals being perfectly evolved for living their lives, with genuinely incredible adaptations, people keep calling them ‘weird’, or say that the wildlife in Australia is particularly dangerous. This isn’t helpful for their conservation. In DON’T CALL ME WEIRD: AUSTRALIA’S AMAZING MAMMALS, Jack will set the record straight about these myths, whilst celebrating the amazing things that animals like platypuses, wombats, kangaroos and Tasmanian devils can do.

This talk is aimed at young people aged 8–13 years.

At last year’s Cambridge Festival children told us very clearly that they wanted more room for nature. So, this year Cambridge Carbon Footprint are inviting families to ‘THE SHRINK LAB’ – a space filled with scientists and environmental leaders that’ll share practical ideas on how you and your family can shrink its impact on the planet so that other species may thrive. As well as inspiring 1:1 tips and conversations, local artist Hilary Cox Condron will be inviting visitors to work alongside her to transform the lecture hall into a vision of a future that’s teeming with life.

Researchers from the Gurdon Institute, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and the MRC Toxicology Unit are transforming into (temporary) tattoo artists for our family weekend! Choose a temporary tattoo and while it’s being applied, talk to the researchers about the unique design and how it relates to their work. So come along and drop in to the UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE TATTOO PARLOUR.

Have you ever been given a ‘gift’ of poop from a bird? Surely you have. Have you wondered what can be learnt from it? WE HAVE! Join us in POOP-OMICS! DISCOVER THE SECRETS HIDDEN IN BIRD FAECES to discover the dirty secrets hidden in bird poop. 

What is it like to be a surgeon? Join us in TRUST ME I’M A SURGEON to learn what you know about your body, and participate in hands-on activities, including simulated transplant surgery and creating your own anatomy model! Run by the Saeb-Parsy Lab, a group of scientists at the Department of Surgery dedicated to addressing critical challenges in transplantations.

Visit our live fashion studio and creative making environment and develop new ways of interacting with clothing. At THE CSVPA SUSTAINABLE FASHION EMPORIUM staff and students from the Fashion department at Cambridge School of Visual & Performing Arts will be on hand to teach you new skills to repair damaged clothes and transform old t-shirts into brand new styles. Participants are encouraged to bring loved and damaged clothing they wish to repair or garments they no longer wear.

Roll up, roll up to THE NUCLEAR ENERGY FUTURES FAIR: AN INSIGHT INTO THE ENERGY OF TOMORROW! Discover the power of the future. Try your hand at the shielding coconut shy. Balance the seesaw of criticality. Test your strength against the infamous Prince Rupert drop. And hook a nuclear expert to sort nuclear fact from nuclear fiction.

Also joining us on Saturday 25 March will be representatives from Waterstones Cambridge. Located in Babbage Lecture Theatre foyer between 12pm-4pm, you will be able to purchase some of the books being showcased at the Festival. For more information please click here.

Jennifer Williams, Families and Schools Coordinator for the Cambridge Festival said, “There is such a wide variety of events across our family weekend, there really is something for everyone. We hope families come along and enjoy what’s on offer and children go away inspired.”

For these and other related events, please visit the festival website and search under the Family weekend for further information and to book seats:

The Cambridge Festival is coordinated by the University of Cambridge and runs from 17 March until 2 April, is teeming with over 360 mostly free events. Subjects range from climate change and health to politics and technology.

Keep up to date with the Festival on social media: Instagram @Camunifestivals | Facebook: @CambridgeFestival | Twitter: @Cambridge_Fest

The Festival sponsors and partners are AstraZeneca and RAND Europe. The Festival media partners are BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and Cambridge Independent.