Nightlife in this university city revolves around the new and improved complex, Cambridge Leisure Park (tel. 01223/511511), lying behind the Cambridge Station. The complex features a multiscreen cinema, a bowling alley, numerous chain restaurants, and bars, some of which offer live entertainment. Saturday night is the big blast here, attracting hundreds of university students. There is also a theater presenting comedy, drama, and even children's shows.
You can take in a production where Emma Thompson and other well-known thespians got their start at the Amateur Dramatic Club, Park Street near Jesus Lane (tel. 01223/359547, or 01223/300085 for box office; www.cuadc.org). It presents two student productions nightly, Tuesday through Saturday, with the main show tending toward classic and modern drama or opera, and the late show being of a comic or experimental nature. The theater is open nearly year-round, closing in September, and tickets run from £3.50 to £10.
The most popular Cantabrigian activity is the pub-crawl (www.cambridge-pubs.co.uk). With too many pubs in the city to list, you may as well start at Cambridge's oldest pub, the Pickerel, on Magdalene Street (tel. 01223/355068), dating from 1432. English pubs don't get more traditional than this. If the ceiling beams or floorboards groan occasionally -- well, they've certainly earned the right over the years. Real ales on tap include Bulmer's Traditional Cider, Old Speckled Hen, Theakston's 6X, Old Peculiar, and Best Bitter. The Maypole, Portugal Place at Park Street (tel. 01223/352999), is the local hangout for actors from the nearby ADC Theatre. Known for cocktails and not ales, you can still get a Tetley's 6X or Castle Eden.
The Eagle, Benet Street off King's Parade (tel. 01223/505020), will be forever famous as the place where Nobel Laureates Watson and Crick first announced their discovery of the DNA double helix. Real ales include Icebreaker and local brewery Greene King's Abbott, so make your order and raise a pint to the wonders of modern science.
To meet up with current Cambridge students, join the locals at the Anchor, Silver Street (tel. 01223/353554), or Tap and Spiel (the Mill), 14 Mill Lane, off Silver Street Bridge (tel. 01223/357026), for a pint of Greene King's IPA or Abbott. The crowd at the Anchor spills out onto the bridge in fair weather, whereas the Tap and Spiel's clientele lays claim to the entire riverside park.
For a gay and lesbian hangout, your best bet is to head for Five Bells, 126 Newmarket St. (tel. 01223/314019), especially on a Friday or Saturday night when the joint is packed. In summer, the action overflows into the garden in the rear. You might also check out Fleur-de-Lys, 73 Humberstone Rd. (tel. 01223/470401), which features everything from drag shows to striptease, dance music, and karaoke.
For musical entertainment, you can find out who's playing by checking out fliers posted around town or by reading the Varsity. The Corn Exchange, Wheeler Street and Corn Exchange (tel. 01223/357851), hosts everything from classical concerts to bigger-name rock shows. The Graduate, 16 Chesterton Rd. (tel. 01223/301416), is a pub located in a former movie theater.
Entertainment in some form can be found nightly at the Junction, Clifton Road, near the train station (tel. 01223/511511), where an eclectic mix of acts takes the stage weeknights to perform all genres of music, comedy, and theater, and DJs take over on the weekend. Cover charges vary from £5 to £25, depending on the event.
Ballare, Lion Yard (tel. 01223/364222), a second-story club, has a huge dance floor and plays everything from house to the latest pop hits, Monday to Saturday 9pm until 2am. Sometimes they even DJ the old-fashioned way, by taking requests. The cover charge ranges from £3 to £10, depending on what night you're here.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.