Christmas Things to Do in Cambridge

Cambridge is beautiful and festive around Christmas, especially if there is snow, which turns the little university town a fairy tale place.

Cambridge Christmas Market
Cambridge Christmas Market – Sean Dalai Photography

Enjoy Christmas in Cambridge UK!

Here are some ideas and things to do in the city of Cambridge.

Christmas Market on Market Square in Cambridge

Visit the Christmas market to buy some small gifts and enjoy the smells and sights of Christmas.

The old Market Square of Cambridge is a lovely sight any time of the year, but at Christmas with all the lights and Xmas decor, it is even lovelier.

Christmas Carols in Cambridge

Kings College Cambridge at Christmas
Kings College Cambridge at Christmas – Ben Matthews Photography

The beautiful Christmas carols are in the very heart of Cambridge, especially the ones sung by the King’s College Choir.

The carols in the performance of King’s College  are world famous. You can buy them on, or any of the major online music retailers.

The Big Christmas Lights Switch On in Cambridge

Every year during the Advent, around mid November there is a celebration of switching on the Christmas lights in Cambridge.

There are many fun things to do during the Big Switch on street festivities.

Christmas Dinner in Cambridge

Enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner in any of the pubs and good restaurants of Cambridge. From the no fancy lovely pubs like Old Spring to Michelin starred restaurants of Cambridge, you can have a traditional and hearty Christmas meal.

Cambridge England Big Switch On
Cambridge England Big Switch On – Nzbuu Photography

Roast turkey, mince pie served with Brandy butter are traditional British Christmas foods. You can also have traditional chestnut soup as a starter, Christmas goose or glazed roast ham for the main course, and don’t forget the dessert, like a cherry Christmas cake, or a sweet Christmas pudding, ‘Christmas stolen’ (this roll cake has marzipan and dried fruits inside), or a Yule log (sponge cake with walnut and vanilla filling).

Christmas Cracker in Cambridge

What makes the Xmas dinner (or lunch) even more Christmassy is cracking the Christmas cracker. Imagine a paper roll with shiny ribbons.

There is a little Xmas gift inside the roll, which is the Cracker itself. Two people are needed to pull the roll from the two ends.

As you pull the crackers in opposite directions, you actually tear the cracker, which makes a little cracking sound.

Christmas Cracker
Christmas Cracker – Ben Ward Photography

If you have managed to get hold of the bigger part of the cracker, it is yours, and the little gift is revealed, just as a riddle or joke, also hidden inside the paper roll.

You will find a paper crown in the Christmas cracker. Put it on your head. Enjoy your Christmas meal with your crown and your lovely merry company in a Cambridge restaurant or pub, or possibly both! Do not forget to place your bookings in advance as pubs get quickly full!

Christmas Pantomime in Cambridge

The yearly pantomime performance is a truly traditional Christmas thing to do in Cambridge (actually it is a very British thing to do during the Christmas holidays). And it is not even a mime pantomime, but a musical-comedy! What is the pantomime performance about?

Cambridge Pantomime
Cambridge Pantomime – Nzbuu Photography

The strange thing is that the Christmas pantomime is not even about Christmas, so it is not like the Nutcracker which is set on Christmas Eve. The musical comedy is usually based on children’s stories, like Cinderella or Jack and the Beanstalk. But the stories do not end in the usual way, and are narrated with references to other well known stories. Are you confused by now? Don’t be. Give it a try and see a Xmas pantomime with your own eyes at the Cambridge Arts Theatre, performances are usually from the beginning of December until mid January. The nickname of Pantomime is Panto, and this is how you will find it on the website too.

Christmas Comedy Party at the Junction, Cambridge

The Junction is a nice little theatre / hall / party scene in Cambridge, UK. From adult parties, through comedy shows, to children performances, this is a very nice place for many locals. During the Advent period, Friday evenings offer a great way to have a Christmas dinner, and be entertained in a true English fashion in a ‘Christmas Comedy Party’ (to appreciate the jokes, it is for more advanced English users, and absolutely for locals). After the cocktail, dinner, and comedy show, there is a night party too. The Junction is not far from the train station in Cambridge and from the cheap accommodation, the Travelodge Cambridge Central.

Christmas Quiz & Pub Crawling in Cambridge

Christmas Pub Crawling in Cambridge
Christmas Pub Crawling in Cambridge – Scott Stadum Photography

One of the things we love in Cambridge is that the pubs have special quiz nights when locals and British tourist gather to win the mind race.

The quizzes are quite difficult, not because Cambridge is such a smart city (it is!), but because the many quiz questions referring to old and recent British television shows and other mass media in the UK.

To get a feel for the Xmas quiz, head to a pub, e.g. the Prince Regent pub on Regent street in downtown Cambridge and test your knowledge during quiz nights, and at some pubs with a quiz machine. What is a quiz machine? It looks like any of the gambling machines in pubs, but you will be asked questions rather than having to pull the lever to get 3 fruits in a row. If you get a question right, you can proceed, and actually win your quiz to check out.

Christmas Blockbuster at the Quirky Arts Picturehouse

The Arts Picturehouse is worth a visit to see a more retro sort of cinema / movie theatre in Cambridge. As it is basically in the city centre, you cannot miss it. During the Advent period you can see some Christmas movies too, the fresh crisp Xmas blockbusters, or even some older, more nostalgic movies.

Christmas Sparkle & Shine Ball in Cambridge

This is a fund raising charity events organised by Love Cambridge and Crowne Plaza.

Christmas Workshops for Children in Cambridge

Children are invited to make Christmas decors at various locations, e.g. the University of Cambridge (as part of their drop in family Saturdays, which is on the first Saturday of every month): kids can craft pine cone fairies, twiggy stars, etc.

Christmas Plays at the Corn Exchange

Cambridge Ice Skating Rink
Cambridge Ice Skating Rink – Devon Buchanan Photography

The Corn Exchange occasionally runs fantastic guest performances for families, children and adults alike can enjoy some of the best kids theatres at the Corn. Open at Christmas welcoming families with children.

Ice Skating on Parker’s Piece

Parker’s Piece is one of the downtown parks in the city of Cambridge, which boasts several lovely picnic parks. Every winter there is a skating rink on Parker’s Piece. If you love skating, head to the park in December to glide for a good winter fun.

For a more serious skating experience where you can enjoy real dimensions and freedom, go to the Fen. Skating on the Fen in winter time is very popular and spacious.

Winter Punting in Cambridge

Winter Punting Cambridge
Winter Punting Cambridge – Ben Matthews Photography

Punting is an all year round thing to do in Cambridge, and if you have the luck to visit Cambridge on a fine sunny winter day, don’t miss punting on the river Cam to see The Backs (the backyards of the colleges of the Cambridge University).

Christmas Parties in Cambridge

The city of Cambridge is full of Christmas parties. We just cannot even start to enlist them, they are so numerous.

 After all, Cambridge is a town of students – many thousands of young people who love a good party.

Christmas Football Match in Cambridge

Some of the football matches may even get scheduled for Cambridge, so if you are a sports fan seeking some professional football in Cambridge, you may wish to check out the events calendar of Cambridge United to see if there are any football events around Xmas.


More ideas outside the city of Cambridge

Winter Walk to Grantchester

Grantchester is about a half an hour beautiful walk in the nature from the city of Cambridge. We love this walk in the summer (or rather ride the bike in good weather), and it makes a nice walk in winter too.

Winter Lights Festival at Anglesey Abbey

See the world famous gardens of Anglesey Abbey in a new light in festive December as a Winter Lights Festival transforms the gardens into an enchanting winter wonderland. For three weekends in December, the Winter Garden and woodland paths will be illuminated with coloured lights, highlighting the natural beauty of the gardens in a way never seen before. Music, traditional entertainers and delicious seasonal fare will add to the festive feel as you wander with family and friends through the enchanted gardens on your journey of discovery.

King’s College Christmas Carols


Christmas in Europe

London Christmas TimeOut

Paris Christmas Ideas

Budapest Christmas Activities

Vienna Christmas Markets

11 thoughts on “Christmas Things to Do in Cambridge

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  • February 15, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Great post and although it’s a while before Christmas comes around again, a lot of those things to do are all year round activities.

  • January 20, 2014 at 9:40 am

    We’re only closed on Christmas day and stay open all year around, river conditions allowing. The College Backs are wonderful in every season with different things to see at different times of the year.

    It’s always nice to head on out to Grantchester to burn off that Christmas feast with a spot of punting, kayaking, canoeing or paddling.

  • December 22, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Some of this is out of date.Suggest you keep everything better updated.

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