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Festival of Arts, Science & Ideas 2022

Free Entry to two inspiring days in Newnham's glorious gardens: talks, music, workshops, performance, food and fun for all ages

  • 2nd July 2022 - 3rd July 2022
  • 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

Newnham College since 1871: 150 years of pioneering, inspiring, supporting, sharing … 150 years of ‘witty and rebellious’ women speaking their minds.

For one glorious summer weekend, Newnham’s beautiful gardens will host our 150th Anniversary Festival of Arts, Science and Ideas. You’ll hear big ideas from leading thinkers, have the chance to try new activities, meet old friends, make new ones, hear some great music – or relax in a shady deckchair with a G&T.

There’s something for all generations to enjoy, with fabulous family activities from star gazing to an ‘oarsome’ rowing challenge.

The Festival is open to everyone and we welcome all members of our community and beyond to join us.

Read on for the programme. Book your free entry tickets.

Saturday’s Programme

• Award-winning author Margaret Drabble appears In Conversation with Jean Gooder.

• Olympian Anna Watkins tells the story of her rowing career, from arriving at Newnham never having picked up an oar, to winning her gold medal in London 2012.

• Rosalind Franklin’s nieces read from correspondence and papers never previously publicly seen, and Rosalind’s sister shares her memories.

• Dr Fiona Gilbert & Dr Helen Young explain the latest advances in Artificial Intelligence for cancer detection.

• Astrophysicist Dr Ricarda Beckman explores the Milky Way.

• Luke Syson, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum & Dr Carol Atack discuss historic art.

• Dr Lucilla Burn tells us how the treasures of the Fitzwilliam Museum were moved to safety in the Second World War.

• Archaeologist Dr Sam Lucy reveals the lives and deaths of Newnham’s earliest inhabitants.

• Professor Claire Hughes talks about Sibling Relationships.

• Writers pack the The Book Tent: Jenn Ashworth discusses her writer’s journey and latest novel, ‘Ghosted’, Professor Janet Todd talks about her novels and biographies, and Dr Carol Cooper and Dr Mathelinda Nabugodi read from their works.

• In the family tent, Anita Lehmann reads from her children’s story books.

• Rebecca Abrams tells the untold history of the most influential Jewish woman in 13th century England, Licoricia of Winchester.

• Neurobiologist Prof Jenny Morton explores how sheep can help identify cures for Huntington’s Disease.

• Internationally renowned pianist Anna Tilbrook performs in Clough Hall.

• Tour the Dorothy Garrod Building with award-winning architect Cindy Walters. Spaces limited.

• An early-evening Ceilidh, all ages welcome, with Stumpy Oak band, Open mic Poetry and Ella Muir plays the ukulele.

• Alison Rose will be joined by our three former Principals to discuss their careers and lives.

• Join us for dinner in College Hall (you can pay for dinner tickets when you book your free Festival entry ticket).


Sunday’s Programme

• Catch the performance of a dawn Raga on Sunday morning.

• Newnham’s first ever Dog Show, with plenty of prizes. Spaces limited.

• Four female Ambassadors discuss living through foreign policy in ‘Interesting places, interesting times’.

• Ecologist Dr Adam Pelligrini reports from the field.

• CERN physicists Professor Tina Potter and Dr Maria Ubiali explore particle physics.

• Writers Antonia Byatt, Jenn Ashworth and Lottie Mills explain why ‘Writing Changed My Life’.

• BP prize-winning artist Clara Drummond runs a portrait drawing workshop, while poet Harriet Truscott leads a Poetry workshop and pianist Anna Tilbrook holds a music Masterclass and open audience discussion.

• Tour Newnham’s historic architecture with Kathryn Ferry. Spaces limited.

• Dr Gill Sutherland reflects on 150 Years of Newnham.

• Artist Erika Tan explores her creation of a new College artwork: vast banners hanging in Clough Hall.

• Distinguished philosophers Professor Rae Langton, Professor Onora O’Neill, Paula Keller and Dr Laura Caponetto discuss ‘Why Philosophy is Inhospitable to Women’.

• Academics Dr Jenny Mander and Dr Terri Apter debate the risks of ideological conformity  in Universities today.

• The Book Tent hosts Dr Bonnie Johnson-Lander discussing Newnham authors, Professor Janet Todd Beth Morrey and Radhika Swarup talk about women’s fiction, while Charlotte Green gives a children’s workshop.

• Heather Wolfe, from the Folger Shakespeare Library, and Newnham Archivist Frieda Midgley lead a Family Fun drop-in workshop on how to fold and send a letter like in Shakespeare’s time.

• Businesswoman Alison Cork shares her experience of entrepreneurship.

• Lawyer Dr Sinead Agnew explores the topic of conscience & private law.

• Catch the screening of Professor Mary Beard’s lecture ‘What Jane Ellen Harrison Can Still Teach us: Women, Cambridge and Classics Now’ if you missed it in person.

• Composer Janet Wheeler and Granta Chorale perform choral works to celebrate Vaughan Williams’ 150 Anniversary, alongside new compositions for Newnham.

• Waterbeach Brass Band entertain in the gardens.

• Live from Hong Kong, Professor Rosie Young in conversation with Dr Annette Tso about still working in medicine in her 90s.

• Live from the USA, Dr Alex Mackenzie celebrates the life of forgotten DNA pioneer June Broomhead Lindsey.

• We plant the 150th tree of Newnham’s Global Tree Planting Programme.

On all weekend

• Face painting and jugglers.

• Family fun with crazy golf and an ‘oarsome’ rowing challenge.

• Stargazing in the inflatable Planetarium, with all ages welcome.

• Indian Dance workshop, all ages welcome. Spaces limited.

• Expert-led tours of the Library and Archives, Newnham’s art collection, the gardens and the buildings.

• Exhibitions celebrating Newnham’s history, architecture and alumnae.

• Book signings with Heffers in the Book Tent.

Food and drink

Food, glorious food – We’ve picked our favourite local chefs and their mobile kitchens. Look forward to Fitzbillies’ afternoon teas, a ‘Newnham Cocoa Party’ gelato, halloumi tacos, sweet or savoury waffles, crunchy salads and more. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices will be available to buy.

Drinks – A wide selection of drinks will be available to purchase from both the Iris Cafe and the Food Lawn. Coffees, teas, fruit juices and smoothies will quench your thirst, while G&Ts, prosecco, wines, beers and ciders will also be available.

Anniversary Dinner – A candle-lit dinner in College Hall on Saturday evening (Book the dinner as an add-on to your weekend ticket).


Did you know?

Cambridge is home to one of the most famous student theatre troupes in the world: the Footlights. Founded in the 1880s, some of the UK’s biggest stars were part of it, including John Cleese, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry and Rowan Atkinson.