Full hearts, minds and bellies – a recap of our 150th Festival of Arts, Science and Ideas

So many treats – four principals in conversation; fascinating talk by Rebecca Abrams; Margaret Drabble in conversation with college legend Jean Gooder; Anna Watkins winning story & more


My heart, brain and stomach are very happy after a weekend of nostalgia, inspiration and food.


You know you love somewhere when walking in the gates brings a proud tear to your eye


Really inspiring and thought provoking content at this remarkable festival at Newnham College to mark its 150 years. Feeling utterly refreshed.


We loved the Planetarium, the letter writing & sealing wax, and of course the dog show.


You never really escape. It becomes part of you. Back there today with the children twenty five years after our graduation. Newnham College still feels like home.


These provide just a small snapshot of all the wonderful feedback we have been getting on our 150th Festival of Arts, Science and Ideas, hosted on the weekend of 2 and 3 July 2022. A true celebration of town and gown, our doors were thrown open to not only our College members, past and present, but also our wider local community, who together embraced this unique moment in our history, and helped us look forward to an exciting future.

It would take a novel to describe all the events of the weekend, and we will be doing our best to keep releasing more in-depth stories, a commemorative video, lots of lovely pictures and recordings of many of the live events over the coming weeks, but for now just a few key highlights:

Tours of the buildings by its Architect * Playful Poetry Workshops * Waterbeach Brass Band * Granta Chorale Anna Tilbrook and friends * College’s first-ever Dog Show * Salt Clay Dragons *Commemorative banners Understanding the Universe * Describing Black Holes * The future of Education * The lack of gender parity in Philosophy * Why good writing is really a matter of life and death * Celebrating Rosalind Franklin and Sylvia Plath * AI in cancer detection * Medicine in your 90s * A sheep that recognises Barak Obama * Four Former Ambassadors in Conversation * Four former Principals * A rooftop dawn Raga * An inflatable Planetarium * A Ceilidh * Open Mic * Anna Watkins and other ‘boaties’ * Margaret Drabble and a Book Tent full of literary talent * Crazy golf * GnTs * pizza * waffles * burgers * fish tacos * ice-cream *afternoon teas and well-deserved deck chair time.

All culminating in the proud planting of our 150th tree in a project that has spanned the globe; a wonderful community moment where all in attendance were invited to throw a spade of soil in the ground. Whilst firmly looking to the future and ‘forever moving forward’, Principal Alison Rose closed the ceremony with a poignant ‘Newnham-take’ on an ancient Greek proverb:

A society grows great when old women plant trees

whose shade they know they shall never sit in


The Festival allowed us to bring to a fantastic close what has been the most incredible past 12 months of celebrating our 150th Anniversary of Newnham. From over 25 Open Programme Projects; Four Lecture Series Talks, 150+ trees planted worldwide, a virtual AND a live Festival, we have been celebrating 150 years of pioneers and pathfinders; of thought leaders and change makers; of courage and curiosity – and helping shape the next 150th years to come.

So thank you to everyone who came to the Festival, to the other events, who have contributed over the past 12 months, and who have worked their socks off to make it all happen. These have been perfect moments to celebrate all that is great – and unique – about Newnham and we hope together we can continue to leave a lasting legacy for the next 150 years.

Please come back and visit again soon, you are more than welcome