Festival of Ideas 2012

Fancy listening to children's authors like Lauren Child talk about their writing or taking part in a circus skills workshop or doing a bit of graffiti art?

This weekend at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas is jam packed with events for people of all ages and most are free.

Saturday is Family Day with huge array of events on offer. Poet Benjamin Zephaniah, Charlie and Lola author Lauren Child and comic writer Andy Stanton will be giving talks for children.

Other events include:

- a chance to watch an alchemist attempt to produce gold [Demons, scorpions and nightmares, Cambridge University Library, West Road, 10am-12]

- the opportunity to try out a new game for iPad and iPhone that you can play by singing or using playing an instrument [SingSmash, Faculty of Music, West Road, 12-5pm]

- a junk puppetry workshop [Jane Harrison Room, Newnham College, Sidgwick Avenue, 12.30-2pm]

- a circus workshop including plate spinning and diabolo [Sidgwick site, 1.30-3.30pm]

- a chance to meet the Tudors, learn to spin, make books and plait braids in Tudor style [Sidgwick site, 2.30-4.30pm]

Other events on Saturday include a talk about the joys of middle age by Dr David Bainbridge; a debate about domestic violence against immigrant women; a panel discussion about the rise of the BRICs and their impact on the West with China expert Martin Jacques and a talk by Radio 4 Controller Gwyneth Williams about the future of the network.

Also at the Festival on Saturday are Posy Simmonds, Nick Pickles from Big Brother Watch who will take part in a debate on whether we should be concerned about whether Facebook compromises our private lives and Professor Paul Cartledge who will talk about the Olympics Now and Then.

The fun and debate continues on Sunday when the line-up includes an exploration of the nightmarish living conditions Cambridge residents endured hundreds of years ago and how Cambridge Museum of Technology's pumping station brought them to an end. Local historian Allan Brigham and councillor Lewis Herbert will reveal all. [Cambridge's Filthy Past, 2.30-4.30pm, entrance fee required]

Cambridge Synagogue is hosting a story time for children around the biblical story of Joseph and his dreams with related arts and crafts. [Synagogue, Thompson's Lane, 11am-12]

And performance poet Hollie McNish will talk about what makes us British, from women' rights to our famous love of a good cup, in A British Tea Break. [Cambridge & County Folk Museum, 3.15-4.30pm]

The Festival of Ideas continues until 4th November. Most events are free, but booking is recommended. For more information, go to www.cam.ac.uk/festivalofideas.

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