Mill Road’s December Sparkle!

Lantern Trail and Online Fair replace the traditional Mill Road Winter Fair

By Kate Collins, Love Mill Road

This year, a sparkling celebration of Mill Road will unfold throughout December. The talents and diversity of the local community will shine online from 1st December with the launch of Mill Road Fair Online, which offers the chance to watch some of the Fair’s favourite performers and buy locally produced and beautifully hand-crafted gifts. From Saturday 5th December, the Mill Road Lantern Trail will light up shops and cafés along the street, while an accompanying history trail will provide fascinating stories about a number of Mill Road’s best-loved buildings.

Click the map image to view/download a printable PDF of the Lantern Trail

Mill Road Fair Online offers a selection of familiar stalls and much-loved performers as well as an exhibition of local artists, plus videos and activities from many of our partner organisations, including University of Cambridge Museums, Mill Road TV, Cambridge Hands-On Science, The Junction, Mill Road History Society, Mill Road Bridges, and more. This ‘virtually brilliant’ fair means you can support local businesses and stallholders this Christmas by visiting Mill Road Winter Fair.

As lockdown ends, you can follow the Mill Road Lantern Trail in person to explore Cambridge’s most diverse, vibrant and independent shopping street. Ten beautifully crafted community lanterns, inspired by ideas and images gathered from residents in the streets off Mill Road, will be displayed in ten shops and businesses along the road. The lanterns, created by local illustrator, designer and artist Penny Sobr, will be illuminated over 15 days from Saturday 5th December, the day when the Mill Road Winter Fair would have taken place. Further lanterns for other streets and shops are planned for next year, which will all be brought together within community lantern parades at future Winter Fairs.

A stunning illustrated map (viewable/downloadable, here) of the Lantern Trail by Anna Betts brings Mill Road to life, marking the location of each lantern and highlighting some of the fascinating and unknown history of buildings and places along the road.

The Mill Road Lantern Trail is the first project funded through the support of a new charity, Love Mill Road, which has been set up to provide a secure, sustainable channel for donations that support the Mill Road Winter Fair and other community projects in the Mill Road area. Click the image below to find out more and donate to support future projects. Cambridge City Council and Anglia Ruskin University have provided additional sponsorship for the Lantern Trail.

Click the image to visit Love Mill Road to find out more and donate to support future projects.

For more information about Mill Road Fair Online, and the trails contact Kate Collins, Chair, Mill Road Winter Fair Committee.

Mill Road Winter Fair is completely run by volunteers, who are always looking for new members to join the friendly, supportive group of people who make this amazing event happen each year. To be part of next year’s adventure, contact volunteers@millroadwinterfair.org.

Winter Sparkle for Mill Road

Mill Road Winter Fair cancelled but Mill Road Lanterns will celebrate the Mill Road ‘vibe’

The Grinch (aka Covid-19) might have stolen the Mill Road Winter Fair, but the Winter Fair committee have an alternative plan to celebrate Mill Road’s ‘Community of Communities’.

Current Chair of the Fair Committee, Kate Collins, says: “We are so sad to have to cancel what would have been our 16th Fair. The Fair has always been important to traders, performers, and the local community. It is a great way to bring people together and to celebrate this unique part of Cambridge. Government restrictions do not allow large gatherings and it is impossible to know if this will be relaxed by December.

Romans & inter-faith blessings at the Perowne Street stage 2018

With this in mind, we will be coordinating a community project, Mill Road Lanterns, in what would have been the run up to the Fair to draw people to the road and to keep the spirit of the Fair alight. This and other local community projects are funded by a new charity, Love Mill Road, and we are thrilled that this will help to make the Fair more sustainable long- term.”

(See also the earlier Mill Road Bridges post on Mill Road Lanterns.)

60s style at Taank Op[tometrists 2018

Love Mill Road has grown from the Fair and from the legacy of the Suzy Oakes Trust. The charity (which can benefit from Gift Aid) has been established to provide a way to channel sponsorship and donations to Mill Road community projects taking place throughout the year, including the non-commercial aspects of the Mill Road Winter Fair.

Mill Road Lanterns will celebrate the identity and culture of Mill Road, highlighting the diversity, history and independence of the neighbourhood. Throughout the summer, local residents and schoolchildren from some of the side streets off Mill Road have been putting together words and images to reflect what is special about their community. These are being transformed by local artist and illustrator, Penny Sobr, into ten stunning community lanterns which will be hung in shops on either side of the Mill Road Bridge. The lanterns will be illuminated in the first two weeks of December, spanning the weekend when this year’s Fair was to take place. We hope to add further lanterns to represent Mill Road streets, schools and organisations in the years to come and that the lanterns will form the core of the community parade in future Fairs.

An illustrated Mill Road Trail will accompany the lanterns project and will depict the personality and individuality of Cambridge’s most vibrant neighbourhood. It will feature lantern venues as well as other places of interest. The Mill Road Trail will be launched at the end of November; we hope it will encourage people to come to Mill Road to explore its shops, eat in its cafés and generally soak up the special Mill Road vibe.

Finally, for those of you who are missing attending the Fair, from from 1st to 14th December, the Mill Road Winter Fair website will host Mill Road Fair Online, promoting many of the local performers, artists, organisations and charities who would have been there on the day.

We can’t replace the 2020 Fair but, with the help of Love Mill Road, we can shine a spotlight on some of Mill Road’s stories, buildings, history and culture.


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For more information on Mill Road Lanterns, Mill Road Trail and Mill Road Fair Online, please email pr@millroadwinterfair.org.

If you would like to help Mill Road Lanterns, please email info@millroadwinterfair.org