Two Treasured Cities to Store in a Time Capsule; Visitors Come from around the World to Marvel at the Twin Jewels in England's University Crown: Cambridge and Oxford

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), October 25, 2009 | Go to article overview

Two Treasured Cities to Store in a Time Capsule; Visitors Come from around the World to Marvel at the Twin Jewels in England's University Crown: Cambridge and Oxford


The beautiful city of Cambridge, with dreaming spires to rival its counterpart Oxford, shines like a little Venice with students and visitors punting along its river Cam in all weathers. Cambridge is fantastic to visit at any time of year, but winter 2009 promises something rather special.

Cambridge has art treasures, such as those housed in the Fitzwilliam Museum, to rival the world, as well as first-class entertainment, theatre and music. There is no need for TV's community choir master Gareth Malone here. The hottest ticket in town is to King's College's Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols service, which has been broadcast every Christmas Eve since 1928. Now the magnificent chapel is providing the focus for the Cambridge Music Festival, a jazz and classics spectacular that is staged every three years and is taking place this year from 8 to 29 November. It's subtitled 'Music and Evolution', as a nod to celebrated Cambridge naturalist Charles Darwin, and the city will explode into a fabulous fusion of jazz, classics, gospel and big band sounds. (01223 350544 cammusic.co.uk). Highlights include Haydn's Creation in King's College Chapel on 11 November and Mahler's Eighth in Ely Cathedral, 28 November.

Don't miss the special Cambridge tour to celebrate Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his On the Origin of Species. The tour takes place each Saturday at 11am, until 20 December, and includes visits to Christ's College, where Darwin was a student, his rooms, the Library, Dining Hall and Memorial Garden. Adults [pounds sterling]10, children [pounds sterling]6. Discounts available when Christ's is closed. Please check before you book. (visitcambridge.org) For time-pressed visitors, a two-hour guided walking city tour is offered on Sundays (01223 457574), and after dark there's a Friday night Ghost Tour from 6pm (01223 457574). (visitcambridge.org)

Oxford University pre-dates Cambridge and is a magical destination for a winter city break. You can easily fit in an open-top bus tour (highly recommended), a boat trip down the Thames and a punt down the Cherwell in a couple of days, as well as take the children to see where some of the Harry Potter movie scenes were filmed. …

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