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Cambridge University students celebrate end of exams with May Balls

Students from Cambridge University make their way home after celebrating the end of the academic year (Joe Giddens/ PA)

Dressed in elegant ball gowns and black tie, students of the prestigious Cambridge University made their way home after a night of partying to celebrate the end of their exams.

The annual Trinity May Ball, a tradition dating back 157 years, was held on Monday night and boasted what organisers called an “unrivalled showcase of revelry”.

There was “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”, the event’s website said.

Guests, who paid at least £360 for a sought-after double ticket, made their way home through the city’s streets as the sun rose on Tuesday.

Cambridge University May Balls
Students from Cambridge University make their way home after celebrating the end of the academic year at the Trinity May Ball  (Joe Giddens/ PA)

The first Trinity May Ball was held in 1866, with the tradition quickly spreading to other colleges.

Organisers of this year’s event said there would be “exquisite entertainment”, an “unparalleled setting” and “unmissable food”.

In years gone by, some of Britain’s brightest students have engaged in hedonistic behaviour, stripping off and jumping in the river.

Cambridge University May Balls
The annual Trinity May Ball is a tradition dating back 157 years (Joe Giddens/ PA)

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.

Cambridge University May Balls
A firework display over the River Cam during the Trinity May Ball (Joe Giddens/ PA)

The “only acceptable attire” for the Trinity May Ball is “traditional black tie, white tie or formal national dress”.

Lounge suits and sports blazers are not permitted, while dresses “must be appropriate formal evening wear and below the knee”.

Organisers warn that the dress code is “strictly enforced”, adding: “Those who are not properly attired will not be allowed entry into the ball.”

UK News