Are you stuck for ideas for where to hold your Christmas party?

You want somewhere people will be intrigued by. Somewhere which will immediately spark conversation.

It’s great to be able to take people to new places in Cambridge and show them somewhere they feel lucky to have seen inside. As a photographer and regular networker in Cambridge, I have been to lots of venues across the city. I’m drawn to spaces which have personality. For me, finding a great venue is not just about the service and ease of access (those are basics) but whether they stand out and make you feel like you’ve had an experience.

Here are my top 5 venues if you’re looking to have a Christmas celebration which people will still be talking about after the new year.

University Arms Hotel

Cambridge University Arms Hotel exterior on Parkers Peice Jemima Willcox Photography

This building is iconic. The University Arms Hotel stands at the corner of Parker’s Piece and is the oldest hotel in Cambridge. It’s recently undergone an £80 million refurbishment which saw it closed for two years! Now it’s back and what a place to go!

If you’re planning a big bash, you can hire the beautiful ballroom. It measures 272 sq m and is designed for parties. Lovely long windows let in plenty of light and you can’t help but feel like you are in a stately home at a glittering ball.

Not every occasion requires the whole ballroom so the room can be divided by a partition into the Crick and Watson rooms. You still get to enjoy the space but without risking feeling lost in it.

Alternatively, you could hold a celebration in the hotel’s Parker’s Tavern. It’s a modern, intimate space and with great food from chef Tristan Welch.

I love the University Arms because it’s a Cambridge icon, oozes sophistication and also its location has personal memories for me. I lived near Parker’s Piece when I first came to Cambridge from London so it feels like a bit of my home. The University Arms has this great combination of classic architectural style with a modern interior. It’s a photographer’s dream to shoot in.

The Tamburlaine

The Tamburlaine Hotel Cambridge Jemima Willcox Photography

The Tamburlaine is a new hotel in CB1, the new quarter which has been developed around Cambridge’s main train station. I first went to The Tamburlaine when I was looking for somewhere to hold a brand portrait session. It was a great venue to showcase my client’s modern business by reflecting a stylish location.

It’s got a lot of versatility. The rooms all have different styles. I love it as a photographer because you have so many different backdrops and you can easily change the atmosphere and lighting simply by walking into the next space. The styling is fabulous.

For the festive season they bringing in floor to ceiling Christmas trees and of course, the fires will be glowing. It’s going to be cosy and welcoming. The hotel’s Master Suite can seat up to 140 guests and they have a range of menus. If a full Christmas party is not what you’re looking for and you would prefer a quiet celebration with friends, why not book for afternoon tea?

The best thing about the Tamburlaine for me is its customer service. Every time I’ve been in I’ve been made to feel special and felt attended to.

Clip n Climb

Clip n Climb Cambridge two climbers scaling a Cambridge indoor climing wall

Yes, I said Clip n Climb! You might think it’s an odd choice but I hosted a networking event here earlier this year and it is a really good place to meet up and get a group joining in together. There are 20 different climbing challenges to suit all abilities and confidence levels. It’s a lot of fun! For the more adventurous you can try the Stairway To Heaven and the Vertical Drop Slide.

I really like Clip n Climb. You’ll find it on the Clifton Road Industrial Estate, behind Cambridge Leisure. It’s something really different in our amazing city where you can push yourself out of your comfort zone and create memories of a different experience.

Cambridge Union Society

Cambridge Union Society Jemima Willcox Photography

Hidden behind Cambridge’s ancient Round Church on Bridge Street, you will find the entrance to the Cambridge Union Society. This venue has hosted speakers including Winston Churchill, The Dalai Lama, Dame Judi Dench, Harrison Ford, and Germaine Greer. Just to name a handful of the very famous people from all walks of life who have been here!

It is available for private hire, including Christmas parties. The versatility of this venue is fab. From the atmosphere of the debating chamber to the library and the bar with its room beside it with its own stage! I have fond memories of attending my boyfriend’s Christmas parties, held by Cambridge Assessment and the pantos they put on.

Centre For Computing History

Centre for Computing History Cambridge

I defy anyone to walk into the Centre For Computing History and not get a pang of nostalgia. Whether it’s your first computer, a gaming console or something which reminds you of a job, you will spot something from your past here.

Cambridge has many connections with the development of computing. It’s great to see stories about how devices which have changed our world came about. The centre strives to maintain our digital heritage.

Now the centre can’t be hired for Christmas parties but it is hosting a Christmas-themed retro gaming night on December 7. The centre’s gaming displays will be on and they will have games from the archives for you to play. There’s a fully licensed bar and there will be a food vendor on site.  The evening will help support the centre’s work. Tickets cost £10. Book on the centre’s website.

Jemima Willcox is an event and portrait photographer. She also has a popup photobooth which makes a fun addition to any Christmas party.

To book her to photograph your event, call 01223 560162 or email her here.

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