Things to do in Cambridge in winter

Nov 6, 2023

Events and Activities You Can’t Miss This Winter in Cambridge

Cambridge, often recognised for its academic prestige and historical charm, transforms into a winter wonderland as the holiday season approaches. The city’s Christmas lights, festive decorations, bustling Christmas markets, and seasonal events create a truly enchanting and festive atmosphere. Winter is the perfect time to visit, and spending Christmas in Cambridge will be a truly magical experience, whether you wish to explore the city’s rich history or complete your Christmas shopping list. In this blog, we’ll dive into the magical experiences that await you in Cambridge during the colder months. From the grand Christmas light switch-on event to winter walks in the Cambridge Botanic Garden, ice skating, winter fairs, Christmas shopping, winter punting, and cosy coffee shops, we’ll cover all the essential winter activities that will make your visit to Cambridge unforgettable.

Christmas light switch on

The Cambridge Christmas light switch-on is the city’s annual spectacle that ushers in the festive season. The dazzling lights, combined with the city’s historic architecture, create a truly unique sightseeing experience. The event is usually held in the city centre of Cambridge and signifies the official start of the winter festivities. The Mayor of Cambridge himself is invited to give a speech at the Christmas light switch-on event.

Visitors of the event can expect to see a beautiful Christmas tree, adorned with baubles and lights, as well as other decorations that create a festive and magical atmosphere in the city. Alongside the lights, visitors will be able to listen to beautiful Christmas carols. With the festive decorations, sparkling lights and Christmas music, it will be easy to immerse yourself in the festive cheer and welcome the start of Christmas in Cambridge.

The Christmas light switch-on event in Cambridge will be taking place on the 19th of November in the Market Square. If you’re staying at The Fellows House hotel, you’re just a stone’s throw away from the heart of the event, making it easy to reach by taking a short stroll into the city centre.

Cambridge Botanic Garden winter walk

The Cambridge Botanic Garden is a hidden gem for winter enthusiasts. This diverse winter garden display was developed in 1979 by Peter Orris and Norman Willis, who managed to create a way for locals and visitors alike to enjoy nature in the cold months. While many visitors overlook it during the colder months, the garden’s colourful and vibrant winter displays can brighten even the dullest of days. Bright stems, bark and foliage combined with beautifully dainty winter flowers will surprise you – not only with the visual appeal but also their fresh and floral fragrance. Aside from viewing the beautiful winter garden display, you can also attend Cambridge Botanic Garden’s event ‘’Cambridge Botanic Lights’’, which is taking place from the 1st to the 22nd of December. This magical winter experience will showcase a variety of stunning light displays, which highlight the most iconic features of the botanic garden, such as the fountain, lake and Glasshouse Range, creating magical and colourful scenes across the whole garden. This provides a unique and exciting way to experience the garden after dark.

Ice skating

Ice skating is a truly quintessential winter activity that brings joy to all ages. It’s versatile and perfect for both friendly outings, as well as romantic dates during the festive season. Usually during Christmas in Cambridge, the ‘’North Pole Cambridge’’ event becomes the ice skating hotspot in the city. Unfortunately, the beloved ‘’North Pole Cambridge’’ is not happening this year. However, fear not, as the Cambridge Ice Arena, located on Newmarket Road, opens its doors to the public, with ice skates and protective gear available for hire. So whether you are still perfecting your ice skating skills, planning a fun outing with friends or a romantic date, the Cambridge Ice Arena is the perfect spot for your fun winter ice skating activities.

Winter fairs

The Mill Road Winter Fair in Cambridge is a seasonal highlight, known for its unique Christmas presents and festive atmosphere. This Christmas market is celebrated on one of the most vibrant roads in Cambridge and is usually held on the first Saturday of December, bringing together a variety of local businesses, organisations, musicians, artists and craftsmen for a day of festive cheer.

It’s the perfect place if you wish to indulge in delicious festive treats, listen to local musicians perform and immerse yourself in the festive cheer. This Christmas market is also just a short walk away from The Fellows House, making it easy for the hotel’s guests to reach the biggest winter fair in Cambridge.

Christmas Shopping

Cambridge is also a fantastic place for Christmas shopping. Whatever you may be looking for, the city has it all. Here you will find a large shopping centre – The Grand Arcade, where you can find products and potential Christmas gifts from many big brands. And if you prefer buying from smaller businesses and independent boutiques, for more unique gifts – you will find a great combination of those all over central Cambridge, without having to walk far away from the Grand Arcade.

Winter punting

Punting is well renowned for being a quintessential Cambridge activity, and it is especially a must-do if you are visiting the historic city for the first time. While punting in Cambridge is often associated with warm weather and sunshine, it’s just as delightful during the winter months. The River Cam is much less crowded, allowing you to take in the iconic Cambridge views, such as some of the Cambridge University Colleges located by the river and the famous Mathematical Bridge, in a serene winter setting. And although it is chillier, compared to the spring and summer months, it creates the perfect opportunity to cosy up with a blanket and a hot drink, as you float past the beautiful sights.

Warm up with a hot drink

Cambridge is widely known for its speciality cafes and well-established coffee culture. And what’s a better time of the year to enjoy a hot beverage than winter-time, as you take in all the beautiful winter views. One such speciality cafe, offering high-quality and masterfully brewed coffees is The Sage of Cambridge. There you can find all the coffee classics, such as the energising espresso, smooth lattes, cappuccinos and others. Aside from the coffee, hot chocolate and tea are also available to warm you up after your winter adventures. And if you get hungry, this Cambridge cafe offers tasty and indulgent sweet treats, cakes and pastries, with a wide variety of vegan and gluten-free options available.

Join a Christmas Wreath Workshop

Immersing yourself in the festive winter atmosphere will be very easy in this hands-on Christmas wreath workshop, where you, alongside your friends or loved ones, will get to learn the art of wreath making from the experienced Battersea Bloem Florist. The workshop will bring festive cheer and excitement no matter your crafting skill level! Alongside the crafting fun, guests are also treated to a delicious mince pie and mulled wine or another hot drink of their choice.

So join in on the fun at The Fellows House on the 10th of December and experience the joys of winter by crafting a beautiful Christmas wreath that reflects your personal style.

Christmas wreath

With this comprehensive guide to winter activities in Cambridge, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your visit. Embrace the festive spirit, explore the charming streets, and create cherished winter memories in this historical city. Enjoy the warmth of the holiday season in the heart of Cambridge.


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