Cambridge May Ball
The May Ball’s fall at a time when Cambridge students can unwind and celebrate the end of another academic period. It is a party like no other, costing many hundreds of thousands of pounds, and any student will tell you that being apart of one of these events is a must, especially the firework display. The events usually starts around from 6-9 pm and lasts well into the night. Some Colleges offer grandiose exits like balloon rides or more traditionally, punting to Grantchester. “Survivors photographs” are also taken of those still partying until dawn… An accomplishment in itself!!
So when did it all start…
Stretching back to the 1830’s the first official Cambridge May Ball was the for the ‘First and Third Trinity Boat Club’. It was originally a low-key celebration in honour of a successful May Bumps season. The May Bumps is collection of rowing races between Cambridge Colleges which usually occurs before the examinations held in May.
By the 1890’s both Clare and King’s College were holding regular events to mark this time in the academic calendar. As the years went by each College soon organised a gathering of their own, to celebrate they achievements However, when the all-male Colleges began to allow female students to apply and study at the University it had some changes to the amount of people attending the events. The double ticket system that was in-place to draw more people from outside the College to mark this occasion with a Cambridge University student was slowly disappearing. The pairs of tickets that were on-sale were being bought and attended by the students themselves decreasing the numbers by nearly half. With a reduction in ticket sales some of the Colleges had to cancel their ball’s. One solution which is carried on by Magdalene, Pembroke, Emmanuel, Corpus Christi, Christ’s, Downing, Girton, Gonville and Caius, Homerton, Newnham, Queens’, Sidney Sussex, Selwyn, and St Catharine’s is to hold a May Ball every other year. Now only Clare, Darwin, Hughes Hall, Jesus, St Edmund’s, Robinson, Trinity and St John’s hold their events on an annual basis.
From their humble beginnings, these events soon became a spectacle; attracting lots of people to be part of, or witness these lavish festivities. Most of the parties span the enormous grounds of the Colleges, with the ball’s featuring performers, music acts, food & drink as well as a world class firework displays. The tickets now sell out in record time.
What to expect at a Cambridge May Ball…
Below we have named two of the most famous May Ball’s to attend:
The first is Trinity’s which is taking place on the 17th June 2019; celebrating it’s 153 years of ‘excellence’. The ball this year is said to include a stunning firework display, and a myriad of entertainments from chart-topping stars, to world-class comedians, to the finest classical and jazz musicians.
The second is St John’s which is happening on the 18th June 2019. This May Ball always famously keeps the theme of the event a closely-guarded secret until the night itself. Nevertheless the event is always a great hit with their illuminations on the ‘Wedding Cake’ building, their firework display and musical acts which always steals the show.
Both Trinity and St John’s May Ball are open only to the students of Cambridge University and one guest of their choice. Since these are exclusive events, special night-time tours are held for these two dates to allow people to watch the firework displays from the River Cam. The river usually becomes gridlocked for these evenings during May Week and it is an atmosphere to remember. We are offering both Private and Shared boats this year, so you can be apart of these prestigious celebrations. Bring your own food and drink with you for the ride, and relax whilst you are in awe of the world-class firework displays from the best seats in the house. It is a night that you will never forget, so remember to book your tickets now before it is too late!!!