Unique wake venues in Cambridge

Celebrate the life of your loved one with a meaningful wake in Cambridge.

Celebrate the life of your loved one by cheering for Cambridge United at Abbey Stadium, gathering friends for a picnic under the trees at Cambridge University Botanic Garden, or by enjoying an afternoon tea while cruising down the River Cam.

Hosting a wake in Cambridge

A wake traditionally takes place after a funeral service and cremation or burial and is typically an informal event that involves family and friends gathering to celebrate the life of their loved one.

Wakes, or celebration of life events, often take place at someone’s home, or a community center or pub, but they can happen anywhere. The wake organisers may want to honour their loved one by holding the wake at a place that was special to them, such as at the grounds of their favourite football team, or with a picnic at their favourite park, for example.

A wake usually takes place straight after the funeral service, but it can be held at any time. They can be as formal or as informal as the organiser would like—wake organisers have the freedom to host the event that’s right for them, their family and friends, and their loved one.

In Cambridge, there are a number of ways to host a wake that honours your loved one in a way that reflects who they were. The family of a football fan could host their wake at Abbey Stadium, while friends of a nature lover could have a picnic at Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Loved ones could celebrate their Cantabrigian with an afternoon tea on the River Cam.

Find your funeral director in Cambridge who will help you arrange a cremation or burial, and give you ideas for a wake, memorial or reception that's right for you.

The word ‘wake’ descends from Old English and Old Norse

We think the word wake comes from the term lichwake or lyke-wake from the mid 13th century. In Old Norse (a North Germanic language) vaka meant vigil, to stay awake at a time usually meant for sleep. 

And in Old English the word wacu meant to watch. So the word wake is thought to have developed as a combination of wacu and vaka

Lich is an Old English word for a dead body. Often the gate at the lowest end of a cemetery was called the lich gate, as this is where funeral processions carried the body in.

 So lichwake literally means to stay up at night whilst we’re meant to be asleep to keep watch over the person who’s died. The tradition became most popular in Ireland and over time lost the word lich and became ‘wake’.

Celebrate their football team at Abbey Stadium

Abbey Stadium is the ideal venue for a football fan’s wake. Celebrate their life in the home of their favourite football team, Cambridge United.

The stadium has rooms for larger parties as well as more intimate gatherings, and it provides catering options including a light buffet, finger buffet, and a hot buffet. Both rooms come with a private bar and can be made as formal or as informal as you like, so you can make sure that the event is just as your loved one would have wanted. 

You could invite your guests to wear Cambridge United’s colours of amber and black, and you could decorate the function room to match. You could make speeches, sing your loved one’s favourite songs, and share fun memories of the time you spent together. Or, for a more relaxed event, simply enjoy spending time with the people who loved your loved one as much as you did.

Have a picnic at Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Gather your family and friends and celebrate your loved one’s life at Cambridge University Botanic Garden, just a 15 minute walk from Cambridge city centre. 

Head to the garden on a bright day to marvel at the garden’s 8,000 plant species, take a stroll under the giant redwood and cedar trees, and try to spot the garden’s birds, bugs, and amphibians.

Bring your favourite food and drinks, find the perfect spot to lay out a blanket, and share your favourite stories of your loved one over a picnic with those closest to you. You could also take time to quietly reflect by taking a walk through the beautiful scenery alone.

Enjoy afternoon tea on the River Cam

Spend the day cruising on the River Cam and take in the sights of the city that your loved one called home. 

There are a number of boat companies that will take you cruising through Cambridge, with boarding options dotted throughout the city, so you could take a boat trip before or after visiting your loved one’s favourite pub or restaurant.  

Alternatively, you could arrange an afternoon tea to be enjoyed on board, so you can share stories of your loved one over sandwiches and cakes, as you watch the city go by.

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