The beacon at the heart of Christmas in Peterborough for many, the Cathedral also goes well beyond its religious remit, reaching out to people of all faiths and none with a fantastic array of events both spiritual and secular. We look ahead to just some of those highlights this coming season...
CATHEDRAL CHOIR CHRISTMAS CONCERT
Nothing is guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit like a live performance of carols, in this case by some of the best votive and secular voices in the region. Join the Cathedral Choir, the Youth Choir and Festival Chorus for this annual celebration of the season, and take the opportunity to relax, contemplate and unwind (not to mention appreciate the amazing acoustics – this place was built for devotional song as much as anything else) away from the hustle and bustle of the madding Christmas crowds outside.
Friday, 22 December 2023, 7pm
MARS: WAR AND PEACE
The Cathedral team is thrilled to welcome back artist Luke Jerram with his brand new installation Mars: War and Peace in January, following on from the success of his previous works Museum of the Moon, and Gaia. If you missed the awe-inspiring, how-have-they-done-that? brilliance of those last two displays, you really can’t miss this, and if you did visit before when Museum of the Moon or Gaia were here – you’ll know what a treat you’re in for.
Mars: War and Peace will enable visitors to the Cathedral to marvel at a stunning reproduction of the planet Mars, its surface faithfully reproduced from NASA Reconnaissance Orbiter data – at an approximate scale of 1:1million, each centimetre of the internally-lit spherical sculpture represents 10km of the surface of Mars. Alongside this visual, there will be an aural accompaniment by BAFTA- winning composer Dan Jones, incorporating sound clips from oceans, deserts, and NASA’s own Mars mission.
Mars the planet was named by the Romans after their god of war because of its blood-red appearance in the night sky. Luke Jerram comments: “Presented with a new soundtrack in the context of a church or cathedral, a space to encourage peaceful contemplation, Mars: War and Peace provides an opportunity for the public to consider the history of conflict around the world. I hope that visitors will feel transported to the inhospitable desert wasteland of Mars, while also reflecting on the realities of war for ordinary communities of people on our planet.”
The sculpture has inspired a whole programme of other events that will also take place in the Cathedral throughout January. On the 13th, there will be a live performance of Holst’s ‘The Planets’ performed on the Cathedral’s magnificent organ by resident organist, Christopher Strange. This will be followed on the 19th by a special ‘Mars-themed’ movie night – see two fantastic Mars themed films (TBC) in one evening! On the 20th, the Cathedral’s popular Silent Disco will return, where you can “mingle, moonwalk and make merry under Mars” between 7 and 9pm.
Services at this time will also incorporate the sculpture, with the Evensongs on the 14th and 21st using it as inspiration for further contemplation on themes of war, peace, and the vastness of space…
Mars: War and Peace will be available to see between Tuesday, 9 and Monday, 29 January 2024. It will be free to view during the day and cost £3 per person during the evening.
THE KATHARINE OF ARAGON FESTIVAL
The well-loved annual celebration of Henry VIII’s first wife (and Peterborough’s favourite queen) will run from 24 to 29 of January next year.
Katharine of Aragon achieved so much more than popular culture now acknowledges: films, TV and novels routinely portray her simply as the devout yet bitter ex-wife replaced by a younger, far more charismatic model, but Katharine was a trailblazer, taking up the post of Spanish ambassador to the English court after the death of her first husband, Arthur, (the first female in Europe to do so), supporting a revolution in the education of women, and bringing about English victory against the Scots at the battle of Flodden while Henry was in France. She was a politician, philanthropist, tactician, a natural leader, an early feminist and beloved of the British people.
After her death at Kimbolton Castle she was buried at Peterborough Cathedral, and every year the city celebrates this remarkable, pioneering woman with a series of religious, academic and more light-hearted events such as walks and feasts.
The Festival is a collaboration between Peterborough Cathedral and Peterborough Museum. The weekend events include a host of costumed re- enactors at family drop-in days, with Henry VIII and Queen Katharine with their courtiers in the Cathedral for At Court with the Tudors, and skilled everyday Tudor folk such as cooks and armourers at the Museum for At Home with the Tudors. The Festival also includes a wreath-laying service at which Katharine’s last letter to her husband is read, and dignitaries lay tributes on her tomb.
Wednesday, 24 to Monday, 29 January 2024; various locations and times.
MADE IN PETERBOROUGH
From break-out lockdown hit to established city treasure in two years is no mean feat, but it’s a testament to the simple brilliance of the ‘Made In’ public art initiative, founded by the team at the Cathedral in 2021. (Thousands of visitors came to see Made In 2022, with over 300 works of art, made by the public, on display.)
In February 2024 you can look forward to – and get involved by becoming a participating artist – in the third ‘Made In’ exhibition, following the same criteria as Made In Lockdown (2022) and Made In 2022 (2023). You don’t need to be a professional artist, and artwork is not limited to paintings or drawings – all forms of creativity are welcome, from textiles to sculpture, from repurposed furniture to paper mâché.
The cathedral will be open for you to take along your art on 2 and 4 February 2024, and the exhibition will run in the Cathedral from 6 to 29 February.