Cambridge University’s famous May Balls back with a bang for first time since the pandemic

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Cambridge University’s iconic May Balls have returned this week as students celebrate the end of term and their exams. Students were spotted celebrating in style as the epic events return after a three year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Last night (June 20) a spectacular firework display lit up the skies above Cambridge as students from Jesus and Trinity colleges enjoyed their May Balls. Twinkling lights could be spotted through the trees along the Backs, offering a tiny glimpse into the other side of our city.

The first Trinity May Ball was held in 1866, with the tradition quickly spreading to other colleges, but events were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Organisers of this year’s 156th anniversary event said it would enjoy the “rich tradition” of “delightful music, inspiring fireworks and enchanting cuisine”.

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General view of the Trinity May Ball at Cambridge University’s Trinity College, where students celebrate the end of the academic year.

Guests, who paid at least £330 for a sought-after double ticket to Monday’s event, were promised “Cambridge’s best ball, an unrivalled showcase of revelry — unlimited food and drink, a stunning fireworks display, and a myriad of entertainments from chart-topping stars to world-class comedians to the finest classical and jazz musicians.”

Students, in black tie and ball gowns, made their way home through the city’s streets as the sun rose this morning. In years gone by, some of Britain’s brightest students have engaged in hedonistic behaviour, stripping off and jumping in the river.



The first official May Ball in Trinity College's grounds was held in 1866 with the tradition quickly spreading to the other colleges.
The first official May Ball in Trinity College’s grounds was held in 1866 with the tradition quickly spreading to the other colleges.

The ball has been held every year since 1866, apart from 1910, when King Edward VII died, during the Second World War between 1939 and 1945, and in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A series of balls is held to mark the end of term, with various colleges hosting them. Despite now taking place in June they are still called the May Balls as that is when they were originally held.



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