Cambridge students down Prosecco at £410-per-couple Trinity May Ball
20th June 2023

Not your average end of term party! Cambridge students jump in punts and knock back Prosecco as they head to the lavish Trinity May Ball (where tickets cost £410 a pair and headliners are legendary disco band Boney M)

  • Students watched a spectacular firework display from punts on the River Cam 
  • The ball is the hottest-ticket event in the entire student calendar – but at a price 

Cambridge University students attended the lavish Trinity May Ball last night as they celebrated the end of term sipping prosecco and jumping into punts – for the price of £410 per pair of tickets.

Hundreds of undergraduates dressed in lavish ball gowns and tuxedos for one of the most expensive events in the university calendar.

The sold-out ball is the largest event of the Cambridge social scene and students enjoyed music from headliner Boney M, featuring Maizie Williams, as well as a spectacular firework display.

Tickets to Trinity May Ball are famously hard to access usually only being for sale to current or former students at the college, and only being sold in pairs at £205 per ticket.

Guests were treated to oysters, a hog roast and a chocolate fountain, as well as almost limitless alcohol which included a champagne bar.

Students pose outside the entrance to Trinity College ahead of the Trinity May Ball on Monday evening

The ball had a strict dress code which stressed it was a ‘minimal black tie’ event

Guests at Trinity May Ball take a punt the morning after their massive night out

Students queue outside Trinity May Ball ahead of the event in Cambridge last night

For students whose tastes were not satisfied by the eye-watering ticket price, there was the option to upgrade and enjoy an impressive five-course meal served in Trinity Great Hall. 

Trinity May Ball is held on the first Monday of May Week, which always takes place in June after exams. 

Many other colleges also hold May balls during this week, traditionally the time for celebrations across the city ahead of the summer break. 

Other hot-ticket events include St John’s May Ball, which consistently vies with Trinity to hold the most exclusive event of the season.

These colleges have budgets worth hundreds of thousands of pounds set aside for the ball each year – yet they are spent on parties that are so flamboyant ticket prices remain high.

While the most popular balls occur every year, many colleges hold bi-annual balls due to the cost. 

The cheapest May ball tickets in Cambridge tend to be just over £100. 

The £410-per-pair ticket price is for Trinity students, who can purchase an additional two tickets for guests at £485 per pair. 

The Trinity ball had a strict dress code which left students shelling out further sums for dresses, tuxedos and accessories.

The ball’s organisers said: ‘The only acceptable attire is traditional Black Tie, White Tie or formal national dress. Lounge suits and sports blazers are not permitted. 

‘Dresses must be appropriate formal evening wear and below the knee; floor-length gowns are typically worn. 

May balls at Trinity College and St John’s College are generally regarded as the hottest-ticket items of the year

People in punts make their way along the River Cam after watching a firework display during the Trinity May Ball

The event’s fireworks can typically be seen from across the city

A celebration of the end of the academic year, the first official May Ball was held in Trinity College’s grounds in 1866 with the tradition quickly spreading to the other colleges

Students celebrated the end of exams ahead of the summer break

Students head home early in the morning after attending the Trinity May Ball in Cambridge

Happy students walk home the morning after Trinity May Ball 2023

Many students heading home from the ball could be seen carrying bundles of fresh flowers

Students cross a bridge over the River Cam as they head home in black tie and luxurious ball gowns

Students could wear gowns below the knee, black or white tie or national dress

The last partygoers enjoy a morning punt as they begin their journey home

Many students paired beautiful ball gowns with sensible trainers on the journey home

‘As we are a “Black Tie minimum” Ball, the dress code will be strictly enforced; those who are not properly attired will not be allowed entry into the ball. Only small bags are permitted.’

Many colleges previously released dress codes which stressed they did ‘not discriminate’ by gender. 

Students at Trinity’s event enjoyed entertainment from comedians and musicians, with some partying overnight and ending the event with a champagne breakfast in the college gardens.

The May balls typically last until early the next morning, with many finishing at 7 or 8am with a Champagne breakfast.

Although many students leave the event beforehand, those who make it right through to the end are dubbed ‘survivors’. 

Pictures from last night show hundreds of students sitting in punts and a huge firework display. 

Hundreds of young adults dressed in glamourous outfits headed across the city and posed for photos as they excitedly joined the entrance queue.

Pictures from last night show hundreds of students sitting in punts and a huge firework display

Many of the students looked tired and a little the worse for wear early on Tuesday

Cheerful university students head home after a long night of revelling

Guests enjoyed live music and entertainment throughout the night

Images from the ball showed revellers partying throughout the night as they enjoyed live music and entertainment, as well as free food and drink.

Besides Boney M and Maizie Williams, tribute bands Noais and Abba Revival performed at the ball, as well as jazz groups, student singers and a DJ with a set made up entirely of Taylor Swift songs.

A spectacular firework display could be seen from across much of the city. 

This morning many could be seen heading back to their colleges, looking rather more casual and exhausted, but nonetheless cheerful. 

The first one took place in 1866 when the First Trinity team was head of the river and it has evolved over the 20th century.

The ball has continued every year since, apart from 1910 when King Edward VII died and between 1939 and 1945 during the Second World War.

Trinity College was founded in 1546 by Henry VIII and is the largest college in either Oxford or Cambridge.

Other students were seen queuing for the Clare College May Ball last night, which had a murder mystery theme.

Undergraduates had to solve a Cluedo-style challenge, whilst feasting on food, drink and entertainment.

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