Heritage & Culture

Heritage Festival Events 2016

The Peterborough Heritage Festival is a unique chance to experience 3,500 years of history. Held in and around the stunning historic surroundings of the Cathedral precincts, this is the city’s most popular event, attracting over 34,000 people last year

The Heritage Festival Big Weekend
In association with Perkins 2 & 3 July, 10am – 5pm daily
Cathedral Precincts, Cathedral Square, St John’s Square
Admission FREE
This year’s theme is ‘Invaders and Settlers’, celebrating many of the nationalities that have come to settle in the city over the centuries. A particular highlight will be a spectacular battle twice daily in the main arena where Vikings and Saxons will battle over Peterborough as they did in 870AD – the biggest Viking invasion in the city for a thousand years! Then take the opportunity to visit the archaeological dig in the Cathedral Precincts, where experts are hoping to uncover some of the remains of the abbey from this period. Meet colourful costumed characters from our past, from Bronze Age warriors to World War II airmen. Over 30 local history societies, community groups and historic attractions, put on displays to show off the best of our local heritage. Relax with the family in the Children’s Zone – an activity area for the kids with jesters, storytellers, games and activities in the Cathedral Cloisters. Go shopping in the period market is held in the precincts, including displays of historic crafts and trades alongside a chance to buy a historically themed gift, alongside an exciting taste of unusual produce, food and drinks to sample or buy. Inside the Cathedral will be a whole variety of activities, including the big bear drop ‘Ready Teddy Go!’ where children can make a parachute for a teddy bear, then watch as he is launched over the balcony, as well as other activities for a small charge. There are free taster tours; special tours of the rooftop spaces, as well as chance to meet Katharine of Aragon, Mary, Queen of Scots, Edith Cavell and Tudor gravedigger ‘Old Scarlett’. Don’t forget to visit the 1960s mobile cinema on St John’s Square. This beautifully restored and unique survival will be showing performances of Pathé news footage from Peterborough’s past, highlighting life in the city from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Dr Nina Ramirez, keynote speaker

Dr Nina Ramirez, keynote speaker

‘Private Lives of the Saints: Power, Passion and Politics in Anglo-Saxon England’
An evening with Historian and Broadcaster Dr Janina Ramirez
Saturday 2 July at 7.30pm, Peterborough Cathedral
Tickets: Adults £14, Children/ Concessions £11 (includes intermission drink)
The Heritage Festival is delighted to welcome back Dr Nina Ramirez who will take up the themes of her recent book ‘The Private Lives of the Saints’. Saxon saints, far from being the one-dimensional pious figures we imagine, were the power players, king makers and politicians of their day. By re-examining their lives – the art and literature that inspired them, the landscape and buildings that surrounded them, the issues that preoccupied them and the symbolic world that mattered to them – Nina Ramirez provides a unique and fascinating lens through which to explore the Anglo-Saxon world. Dr Ramirez is at an Art Historian at Oxford University who broadcasts regularly for the BBC. Her documentary series have ‘Saints & Sinners: Britain’s Millennium of Monasteries’, ‘Illuminations: The Private Lives of Medieval Kings’ and ‘Chivalry & Betrayal: The Hundred Years War’. She is also a regular panellist on the Museum based panel show ‘The Quizeum’. The talk will be followed by a book signing in association with Waterstones. Tickets: Adults £14, children/concessions £11 (includes intermission drink). Available from the Key Theatre Box Office on 01733 207239 or online at www.vivacity-peterborough.com

William Smith – Colours Beneath your Feet Exhibition
28 May-10 July 2016, 10am-5pm
Tuesday to Sunday Peterborough Museum; free admission
This fascinating exhibition explores the life of William Smith and how he made the first geological map of Britain in 1815. His unparalleled achievement and the simple beauty of his map changed the way we see the rocks beneath our feet and the world around us. For more information call 01733 864663 or email

Archaeology in the Spotlight Talks at the Cathedral
A series of talks leading up to and throughout the Festival where leading archaeologists tell us about their most recent discoveries, to tie in with the Cathedral’s current excavations:
● The Archaeology of the Cathedral Precincts Tuesday 21 June, 7.00pm in the Becket Chapel, Cathedral Precincts A talk by Dr Jackie Hall, Peterborough Cathedral Archaeologist
● The Pompeii of the Fens: Bronze Age discoveries at Must Farm Friday 24 June, 7.00pm in the North Transept of the Cathedral A talk by Mark Knight, Director of Excavation at the Cambridge Archaeological Unit
● All that Glisters: Anglo Saxons, Beds and Gold Thursday 30 June, 7.00pm in the North Transept of the Cathedral A talk by Alison Dickens, Manager of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit ●
● Tickets for each of the lectures are: £5 (£3 concessions), available via the Cathedral website, Peterborough Information Centre (01733 452336) or on the door.

Get Digging: Archaeology in the Precincts
Thursday 23 June-Thursday 30 June, 3pm daily
Peterborough Cathedral FREE Tour
In the North West corner of the Precincts, Access Cambridge Archaeology and Cathedral Architect Jackie Hall will be guiding school groups and volunteers in a community archaeological dig. Each day archaeologists will ‘down trowels’ and share the highlights of the day’s dig. Tours last about 30 minutes – sensible footwear is advised as there will be uneven ground. The dig will also be open throughout the big Heritage Festival weekend, 2-3 July.

Hidden Heritage Guided Walk
Saturday 25 June at 2pm
Meet outside Peterborough Museum £5 adults, £3 concessions
Find out more about the fascinating and often undiscovered history of Peterborough, from the foundation of the Saxon abbey to the modern city in an entertaining guided walk. For bookings telephone (01733) 864663 or e-mail

Discover Wild Food
Thursday 30 June at 4.30pm
Ferry Meadows FREE event
Our ancient ancestors were able to forage and get much of their food from the landscape, and it’s still possible to do this today! Get tips on collecting and identifying wild food that’s safe and good to eat.
● Booking required. For details and bookings telephone 01733 234193

Late Night Priestgate Vaults
Thursday 30 June at 7:30pm
Peterborough Museum £4 Adults, £3 (children and concessions)
The Vaults creak open their doors for a late night tour to offer more opportunities to experience the newest heritage attraction in Peterborough and celebrate 500 years of local history. Tours last 45 mins. Not suitable for under 8s or those of a nervous disposition. To book, call 01733 864663 or email

choirMusic for a Summer Evening
Friday 1 July at 7.00pm
Peterborough Cathedral
Tickets: £12.50 (U18s £6), unreserved seating: £8
Peterborough Cathedral Choir, Youth Choir and Festival Chorus, conducted by Steven Grahl, present a short programme of music from the historic English choral tradition, including: Tippett Five Spirituals from a Child of our time, Finzi Magnificat, Walton Coronation, Te Deum.
Tickets available online via www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk or from Oundle Box Office on 01832 274734, Peterborough Information Centre on 01733 452336, or Stamford Arts Centre on 01780 763203.

midsummernightsTheatre in the Park – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Friday 1 July at 7pm Ferry Meadows
Tickets: Adults £14, children £10
Chapterhouse Theatre brings Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Ferry Meadows for an evening of theatre under the stars. Purchase tickets at Ferry Meadows visitor centre, Nene Outdoors reception or online at seetickets.com.

The Clockwork Infirmary
2 and 3 July, 10am-5pm
Peterborough Museum FREE Event
It’s a Steampunk takeover! As part of the Heritage Festival Big Weekend, for two days entertainers and traders will fill Peterborough Museum. Umbrella Fencing, Tea Duelling and Clockwork Snail Racing – it’s all happening alongside trade stalls to kit you out for your new look. There’s no need to book for this event, just drop in. For more information call 01733 864664 or email

Green and Cheerful: A talk by Claire Foster-Gilbert
Tuesday 5 July, 7.30pm
Becket Chapel, Peterborough Cathedral Precincts
FREE admission
Come and be inspired! Claire Foster-Gilbert, founder Director of the Westminster Abbey Institute, is a leading thinker on ethics and environmental issues. She is the author of books such as How many light bulbs does it take to change a Christian? and Don’t stop at the lights. Organised by the Peterborough Eco-Faith Network with Peterborough Cathedral

Abseil down the Cathedral!
Friday 8 and Saturday 9 July, 9am–5pm
Peterborough Cathedral
Free to come and watch (fees apply to abseil)
Brave participants in this sponsored event will raise funds for the Peterborough 900 campaign as well as enjoy a once in a lifetime opportunity to abseil down the side of the West Front of Peterborough’s most iconic historic building! Come and watch, or take part if you book online well in advance (limited spaces). https://shop.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk/abseil

Peterborough Pub Quiz
Wednesday, 6 July at 7pm
The Brewery Tap, Westgate. Free
The famous quiz returns! Can you tell your Baker Perkins from your Perkins Engines? Have you any idea which Peterborian founded Pizza Express? Then this could be the quiz for you… come and test your knowledge of Peterborough in a special pub quiz. Teams can be three to six people and there are prizes to be won! To book your team, call (01733) 864663 or email

inns&tavernsInns & Taverns Tour
Thursday, 7 July at 7.30pm
Meet outside Peterborough Museum
£5 adults, £3 concessions
Take a trip down memory lane with a costumed guide and discover the fascinating stories behind many of Peterborough’s pubs. To book, call 01733 864663 or email

Hidden Heritage Guided Walk
Saturday 9 July at 2pm
Meet outside Peterborough Museum
£5 adults, £3 concessions
Find out more about the fascinating and often undiscovered history of Peterborough, from the foundation of the Saxon abbey to the modern city in an entertaining guided walk. For bookings telephone (01733) 864663 or e-mail

Romans Return to Longthorpe
9 and 10 July 2016, 10am-5pm daily (last entry 4pm)
Longthorpe Tower £4 Adults, £3 children, £10 Family
During the time of Boudicca’s uprising against the Roman army, the 9th Legion were defeated and forced to take refuge at Longthorpe fortress – a Roman stronghold. Now the Legion returns to the village for one weekend only! Meet soldiers from the Legion, discover the story of the Romans in Longthorpe and get hands on with arms and armour. There’s no need to book for this event, just drop in. For more information call 01733 864664 or email

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