As an important regional hub for theatre, music and other performing arts, Cambridge has loads to offer when it comes to entertainment. Add in the thriving student scene and some top-class spectator sport and you’re spoilt for choice.
Entertainment in Cambridge
Whether you’re interested in seeing a professional touring production or the cream of the crop of young talent emerging from the student theatre scene, there’ll be something to suit you in the city, so check out our full guide to Cambridge theatres to find out more.
Our video guide to entertainment in Cambridge
Some of the most famous names in comedy are regular visitors to Cambridge – and they don’t get much bigger than Ross Noble, Sarah Millican, Jason Manford, Ed Byrne and David Baddiel. Read more about who’s coming up in our dedicated pages on the Cambridge Corn Exchange and Cambridge Junction.
There’s usually plenty going on in the sporting arena in Cambridge, partly because of the presence of so many students.
For over 170 years, first-class cricket has been played at Fenner's, the home ground of Cambridge University Cricket Club, so it's no surprise that so many lovers of the game make a pilgrimage there when visiting the city. Although it’s not as famous as Test grounds, such as Lord's or The Oval, its hallowed turf is where countless future international players forged their careers as students. Among them are the likes of Peter May, Ted Dexter, Mike Brearley, Derek Pringle and Michael Atherton.
The ground is named after Francis Fenner, who first leased the land for it to be built. Born in Cambridge, he was himself a cricketer, a fast bowler who had a first-class career with Hampshire in the middle of the 19th century. Fenner's has witnessed many famous matches featuring such legendary teams as Don Bradman's touring Australians of 1948 and still hosts fixtures against country sides. It's a dreamy spot to enjoy the gentle thwack of leather on willow.
Football fans will probably want to head to the Abbey Stadium, home of Cambridge United FC and easily within walking distance of our Cambridge City East hotel. Although it's not the grandest of football grounds, it does have one particularly interesting claim to fame. Until relatively recently, it was the only ground in the country to be styled as a stadium other than Wembley.
Cambridge United briefly played their home games at Parker's Piece – a historic venue in the history of football, as it was the place where the so-called Cambridge Rules were first played in the 1860s. This was a significant development in the move towards what we recognise as the modern game of association football. However, the Abbey Stadium has been the home of Cambridge United since 1932.
If cricket and football aren't for you, then you could also try Cambridge & Coleridge Athletic Club, often abbreviated to C&C, which is based at Cambridge University's athletics track at Wilberforce Road. Alternatively, you can check out Cambridge Rugby Football Club, who play senior rugby union in National League 1 and also have a healthy junior section.
The Abbey Stadium
No city's live music scene is complete without a good old-fashioned rock pub like the Portland Arms. The list of what's on is pleasingly eclectic, with up-and-coming performers like Gengahr and local talent rubbing shoulders with blasts from the past such as The Monochrome Set and Jesus Jones. And while you're waiting for the band to come, you could do worse than checking out the beer blog written by Sam, the Portland's bar manager and part-time wrestler.
The present building on Chesterton Road dates from the 1930s when it was designed by the revered Scottish architect Basil Oliver, but there has been a pub on the same site as far back as the 1880s. Since 2004, it's been run by Hayley and Steve Pellegrini who have split the venue into four separate areas – the 200-capacity live music room sitting alongside the saloon bar, public bar and a courtyard with its own Tiki-themed hut.
A million miles away from the sweaty, rock-fuelled sounds of the Portland Arms is West Road Concert Hall, regarded by many as Cambridge’s premier classical music venue. Built in 1978 by the architect Sir Leslie Martin, who was most famous for designing the Royal Festival Hall in London, the venue is centrally situated only a stone's throw away from King’s College and has earned acclaim for its exceptional acoustics. Its location within the university’s Faculty of Music means the concert hall really does sit at the very heart of Cambridge's music tradition.
It's an incredible heritage that can be traced back to 1464, when Henry Abyngdon, part of the royal court of Edward IV, was awarded a Bachelor of Music degree, thought to be the first one ever awarded in the world. West Road Concert Hall currently hosts four resident ensembles, each of which gives a series of concerts every year. Members of the ensembles – the Academy of Ancient Music, Britten Sinfonia, Endellion String Quartet and Ligeti Quartet – are also involved in regular workshops and masterclasses.
You might also expect to see performances by the likes of the City of Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, the Cambridge Graduate Orchestra and the Cambridge Philharmonic.