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Exploring centuries of big ideas
Festival of Ideas (Image: University of Cambridge)
The festival celebrates eight centuries of ideas from politics to literature

As the University of Cambridge celebrates its 800th year, the Festival of Ideas explores the big ideas behind the arts and humanities.

Over 150 free events will help visitors understand vital issues from a diverse range of topics like history and music.

Organisers hope to inspire people of all ages with performances, workshops and talks covering subjects from East Asian monsters to political cartoons.

The festival runs for two weeks from 21 October 2009.

Celebrity obsession

Now in its second year, the festival brings together artists, authors and academics from the university's arts, humanities and social sciences departments.

They will show us how to understand the big issues past, present and future, with a huge range of engaging and entertaining events.

Whether you're interested in the history of anatomical illustration, mixing your own Viking potions or the philosophy of wine, there will be something for you at this year's festival.

Hands-on activities at the Festival of Ideas 2008
Transform your ideas into arts and crafts projects at family workshops

Free events include performances, taster sessions, film screenings, exhibitions and debates.

There is also a special Family Day on Saturday 24 October with a range of hands-on activities and engaging talks. Meet children's authors Caroline Lawrence and Anna Perera, discuss the origins of glamour and celebrity obsession, or take part in a family poetry writing workshop.

Comics and cartoons

For those who love to doodle, paint and scribble, the festival will be running a number of workshops as part of The Big Draw. Help make a tree of life at the Museum of Zoology, or create your own body at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

For any budding young cartoonists who want to vent their feelings about politics and politicians, the festival is running a competition which will be judged by acclaimed political cartoonist Steve Bell, who is also speaking at the festival on 22 October.

Political cartoon in The Guardian, January 2009 (Image: Steve Bell)
Cartoonist Steve Bell has been drawing for The Guardian for over 25 years

The competition seeks to explode the myth that young people are not interested in politics. The top five cartoons will be displayed as part of the political cartoons exhibition, just one of a number of events about cartoons and comics at the festival.

This year the festival is also heading into the community to exchange ideas about food and fitness, gardening, and crime scene investigations! There will be a range of sessions in community centres across the city which are open to all ages.

The Festival of Ideas runs from 21 October - 1 November, 2009.

More information can be found on the Cambridge Festival of Ideas website.

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