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Cambridge (deservedly) doesn't have the greatest reputation in the world for its nightlife, but despite this there are plenty of decent places to unwind and go out. Colleges all have their own bars and 'ents' (student organised entertainment and events) and there are loads of good pubs, bars and clubs in the town.
College bars are really popular, and a great place to meet up with your friends and have a couple of drinks. At student prices, they're cheap and a good way to start your evening, with the added bonus of being only a couple of minutes from your room. Some College bars are run by students, and others use professional companies, but all are well stocked and designed with student needs in mind – you'll often be able to pick up some quick food, too. The College bars aren't alco-centric, either. You can quite happily go to the bar every evening without feeling any pressure to opt for alcohol.
Cambridge has a great selection of traditional pubs, and with 119 pubs in the local area, you won't suffer from lack of choice. The most famous of these is probably The Eagle, where Crick and Watson apparently first announced the form of DNA, and there's several pubs along the river, which can get pretty busy.
Cambridge has three cinemas, which show everything from the latest blockbusters to art and foreign films. There are also a couple of theatres, which host both student and touring companies. The standard of the theatre is really high, and there are shows on every night, with both a main show and late night productions at the ADC Theatre. From serious drama to improvised comedy, new writing to Shakespeare, there's a huge variety of things to see.
Cambridge is pretty good for music, too, with three main venues: the Corn Exchange, the Junction and the Soul Tree. They attract big-name bands and students can get cheap tickets. In the last year, the Rizzlekicks, Olly Murs, Noah and the Whale, McFLY and Motorhead have all featured on the Cambridge music scene. There's a mix of genres, with a good amount of alternative music and upcoming bands. The clubs also cater for pretty much everything, and there's a healthy injection of cheese most evenings and regular guest appearances.
If your taste is more classical, there's always a good run of concerts, either at the West Road Concert Hall or at the Corn Exchange. With regular touring orchestras and featured individuals, as well as Cambridge's home-grown talent and an array of performances within the Colleges, there will be something most nights of the year.
The summer also sees a different type of Cambridge entertainment, in the form of May Balls, which are (naturally) held in June. These are huge parties, planned and run by a large student committee, which take place across the Colleges. They last from 8pm to 6am, involve a serious amount of food, drink, music, games and pretty much anything within the realms of imagination. For the evening, the College will be transformed, decorated, and complete with dodgems, laser quest, and top name bands.
Whatever your interests and tastes, you'll find people who want to do the same thing and it's seriously unlikely that you'll ever be stuck for something to do on an evening.
Key Fact: Rizzlekicks and McFLY have played in Cambridge in the last year