By Eva Weinstein

When newly-arrived first years, wide-eyed and eager, turn up to the freshers fair each October, they find themselves faced with an overwhelming array of sports, theatre and music societies. They are no doubt amazed by the endless list of clubs, many of which seem entirely unfamiliar: Algorithmic Trading, Korfball, Hillwalking, Ethics in Mathematics. But if your interests lie more in painting, pottery, illustration or collage, or you are simply curious about art, you might have to carry out a more active search to find like-minded societies and events that suit you. With a hectic term-time schedule, it can be hard to find like-minded people and make the most of Cambridge’s vibrant art scene, but the Varsity Arts section is here to kickstart your search.

“If your interests lie more in painting, pottery, illustration or collage... you might have to carry out a more active search to find like-minded societies”

Quick tip: The first thing to know when it comes to finding artsy things to do in Cambridge is that Instagram is your best friend. Most zines publish their commissions, deadlines, and new issues through Instagram and societies post about their upcoming events. In order to stay in the know all you need to do is follow the accounts that interest you and keep your eye out for updates.


Cambridge’s zine scene is thriving and diverse. ‘Zines’, short for magazines, are small publications that are often handmade and focused on local voices. They have been a staple in alternative culture since the 1970s punk rock scene but have witnessed a recent revival and are creeping into the mainstream.These publications are often looking for submissions, so, depending on the specific zine, you can submit your own poetry, prose, photography or illustrations for a chance to see your work in print. But don’t worry if that seems like too much work, these hidden gems are also a pleasure to read and admire.

Note: Seeing as the teams behind these zines are small and made up of often very busy Cambridge students, there can be periods of inactivity but don’t let this dishearten you: they usually resurface after a short break.

Notes Zine (@notespublication)

Notes is Cambridge’s longest running writing and arts zine, filled with heartfelt poetry and fresh graphics.

Cover design: Zoe Smith

The Cambridge Cult (@thecambridgecult)

Based in Cambridge and Berlin but accepting submissions from all over the world, The Cambridge Cult creates alternative and experimental zines with a grunge aesthetic. Their content is effortlessly cool and visually stunning. Submissions on the theme ‘cycles’ are open until October 15th.

Cover design: Lola Thuy

Cambridge Review of Books (@crobmagazine)

Despite the name, the Cambridge Review of Books is not limited to literary analysis. Among other things, it welcomes poetry and short fiction, aiming to give students a place to explore cultural interests that fall outside of their academic studies.

Cover design: Amelia Mielniczek

Panoramic (@panoramicthemagazine)

Panoramic is a magazine with a more international and political outlook, neatly summed up by its slogan “global issues, local voices.” While their issues mostly consist of long-form opinion articles, they are also enhanced by captivating illustrations and photography.


Sentíre (@sentirezine)

Sentíre is a colourful and sleek zine with beautiful illustrations and a wide range of art and writing forms. Their recent themes such as ‘sea, glow, and lies’ have been broad and abstract, allowing for various creative interpretations of the topic. Submissions are open until 5th November.

cover design: Hannah Beresford and Hendrikje Dorussen

It’s also worth looking out for launch parties celebrating the release of new issues or occasionally zine fairs where students can see the latest zines and meet their creators.


Sketch and Social (@sketchandsocial)

Exactly as the name suggests, Sketch and Social hosts sketching events, held on the first Wednesday of each month. Each session is free and hosted at a new location in Cambridge, whether that be a pub, café or outdoor space. There’s no need to be an artistic genius: these socials welcome people with all levels of art experience. They are also open to the entire Cambridge community, not just students, providing the perfect opportunity to escape the limitations of the student bubble and meet new people.

Fitzwilliam Museum Society (@fitzmuseum_soc)

If the enchanting halls of the Fitz have captured your heart, the Fitzwilliam Museum society is the right club for you! Not only do they organise museum tours, they also host talks from leading art experts and fun workshops such as jewellery making and speed drawing. Some events are members only (lifetime membership costs £10) and others require a small fee to contribute towards the cost of materials.

PhoCUS (

PhoCus is Cambridge’s official Photographic Society. Welcoming all levels of photography, this club offers photo walks around different areas of Cambridge as well as guest speaker events. Plus, membership is free for students.


Mountain View

From paper to screen: poetry in the age of social media

ArcSoc (@arcsoc_cambridge)

Despite ArcSoc’s reputation for wild club nights with wacky themes, its main focus is indeed Architecture. The society holds talks with guest speakers from the Architecture world and even weekly Life Drawing sessions (every Friday 7-9pm, £5 entry).

CU Arts and Crafts Soc (@cuartsandcraftssoc)

And last but not least there’s the CU Arts and Crafts Soc which usually meets in the evenings at Newnham College. This society organises laid back, friendly craft meetups where you can chat whilst doing activities such as origami, embroidery or making friendship bracelets. If you’d rather work on your own projects, the club also hosts drop in sessions where you can bring along any kind of art activity and crochet, paint, doodle or embroider in the company of fellow artists.

Cambridge terms are fast paced and sometimes overwhelming. It’s important to find time in between academics and alcohol for your hobbies. If these recommendations are up your street, don’t be afraid to turn up and give them a go: it’s through exploring your interests that you will find your people.