May Week Calendar 2016: What, When, Where

Get your diaries out – here’s our guide to everything happening in May Week, with The Tab’s 2015 Definitive Ball Rankings also thrown in

| UPDATED 2016 balling balls Cambridge christs Clare College Darwin fun Garden Party grandeur johns King's King's Affair Magdalene May Ball May Week may week 2016 medwards party Pembroke review sidney the tab The Tab Cambridge Trinity

The Tab’s 2015 May Ball Rankings

With just over two months until the fun begins, we thought we’d remind you of how last year’s balls lined up. Click the hyperlinks to read the full reviews.

5 stars

Trinity May Ball

– Screw being the best ball of May Week – this was the best night of my life.

Dowining May Ball

– There was a literal bath filled with sweets, chocolate and other sugary goodies (complete with rubber duck).

Georgie Holiday gave Downing May Ball a solid 5/5

4.5 stars

Pembroke May Ball

– I couldn’t help but compare Pembroke and my Monday night conquest of Trinity. Pembroke is like the prettier little sister. She’s arty and spiritual and protected from the burden of tradition and expectations.

Queens’ May Ball

– The Queens’ May Ball committee engaged in the task of creating an unforgettable night with a creative energy and a freshness that has firmly established Queens’ May Ball at the level of John’s and Trinity in terms of desirability.

Emma May Ball

– It is the little touches which make forking out so much money worthwhile. The bizarre moving T-Rex at the beginning of the night, the stacks of warm Millie’s cookies, the magicians on stilts all served to enhance what was a fantastic evening.

King’s Affair (June Event Rating)

– Your reviewer thoroughly enjoyed pretending to be one of the kids who were too cool to hang out with him in school.

Cute college

4 stars

Jesus May Ball

– Long-dubbed “the freshers’ ball”, the name says it all.

Magdalene May Ball

– It was a Ball in the proper sense, not in the #ballin sense. Not bad, just different.

St John’s May Ball

– The fabled ‘seventh best party in the world’ can do, and has done, better.

Peterhouse May Ball

– Music at Peterhouse was a mixed bag. The silent disco veered slightly towards a wedding vibe, perhaps appealing to an older crowd of alumni who were in attendance.

Medwards (Garden Party Rating)

– Sweets Officer (yep, they actually had a Sweets Officer) Juliette Simon ensured that there were more bags of diabete-rific goodness lying throughout the party.

3.5 stars

ChariTEA’s Granchester Meadows Party (Garden Party Rating)

–  What about the grass? The most important constituent of any Garden Party, and Charitea’s biggest weakness. The grass was, I’m afraid to admit, shoddy. There were thistles. It was unevenly cut. There were insects. It was all just a bit too, you know, natural.

1 star

Wyverns (Garden Party Rating)

– The event essentially resembled an extraordinarily expensive and boring rural, southern English fête.


The Tab’s May Week Calendar 2016

An overwhelming menu of May Ball finesse, fun and frivolity. Here’s everything you need to know to navigate May Week 2016.

It’s official


Girton (11th March)

Price: £120 (Sold Out)

Theme: Equinox: A Lost World Awaits.  Click here for more info:

With Tinchy Stryder headlining (not one to miss) Girton’s end of term event, it’s perhaps time we venture far far away.

Like Disney

Early Birds: 10-11th June

Homerton Summer Ball (10th)

Price: £68 (Sold Out)

Theme: The Great Unknown. Click here for more information:

The Committee has decided on a ‘smart’ dress code to reflect the college’s characteristically friendly atmosphere.

Hughes and Lucy Cav’s Come What May Event (11th)

Price: £85 (Tickets On Sale)

Theme: Paradise Lost. Click here for more information:

On the night of 11th June 2016, Hughes and Lucy invite you to become immersed in a world of delight and destruction, decadence and debauchery, tranquility and chaos. Choose to rise or fall, in sweet innocence or furious lust. Transcend or descend; the decision is yours. Join us this May week and find your Paradise, Lost.

What Milton will make of this is unclear

Robinson “May Ball”

Price: £99

Theme: Robinson Crusoe. Click here for more information.

Wash up on the shores of Robinson Crusoe’s island, and lose yourself in a faraway land of tropical treasures and decadent delights. 

Last year: Not reviewed.

Bit garish

Hawks’ Event 2016

Price: £50 (Resident Hawks) / £55 (Everyone Else)

Theme: Banterous sportsmanship.

Last year: Not reviewed.

Sponsored by Goldman Sachs

Suicide Sunday: 12th June

Emma June Event

Price: £95 (Sold Out)

Theme: Eureka! Click here for more information:

Eureka is a celebration of the ideas that changed the world. Join us for an electrifying night as we travel through time to celebrate humanity’s greatest inventions.

Last year: Emma’s 2015 May Ball, themed “Naturalis Historiae” and priced at £130, received a May Ball rating of 4.5 stars from The Tab. Click here for our review:

No doubt the most amusing part of the evening was the sight of hundreds of sweaty university students, clad in black tie going crazy for Pendulum. 

Theme? Sorted!

Medwards Garden Party

Price: £36

Theme: Secret Garden. Click here for more information:

Grab your key, unlock the door and immerse yourself in a world of mystery and magic. Just be careful not to get lost…

Last year: The 2015 Medwards’ Garden Party was “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory” themed and priced at £30. With a “Tab Garden Party Rating” of 4 stars, last year’s was a success – check out our review:

Guests were greeted by an array of three thousand  VKs of every lurid colour of the rainbow. Excited Freshers could be seen running back and forth with as many bottles of the sugary beverage as they could carry, delighting at how this round would have cost them £20 in any Cambridge club.

Based on the 1910 novel or not, this secret garden is surrounded by rather brutalist buildings

Monday Madness: 13th June


Price: £380 for a pair (Sold Out)

Theme: TBC! Click here for more information – so far just same old same old:

The First and Third Trinity Boat Club May Ball has a history that stretches back for over a century. In 1866, the first official May Ball was thrown to celebrate a most successful May Bumps, with the First Trinity Boat Club at the head of the river and Third Trinity a close second.

Last year: Well, it won’t come as a surpise that our reviewer deferred to its grandeur, giving it a May Ball Rating of 5 stars. Check out our ridiculous review:

You could breeze out of the acoustic summer-pub-vibes tent and end up in the middle of the fairground full of drunken screaming students; wander out of the fancy-pants cheese tasting room full of alumni and right into the raving crowd for Grandmaster Flash.

Yes yes yes

Jesus May Ball

Price: £140 (Sold Out)

Theme: The Uninhabitable. Click here for more information:

Dive to the depths of the ocean, brave the toxic wasteland, and try not to get lost in the swamp as we take you to the extremities of this world (and beyond).

Last year: Jesus just about earned a May Ball Rating of 4 stars last year. The so-called “freshers’ ball” is always a safe bet – apt given last year’s event was themed “Wildcard” – but we felt the 2015 Ball was lacking in “wow factor” for which we only gave it 3 out of 5:

Its title as “the freshers’ ball” seems apt. It’s a tried-and-tested formula – catering to a lot of guests – that always delivers. But it lacks the originality of the best college ball. It was less a ball situated in the beautiful courts of Jesus college – the most impressive court was only used for queueing – than one held in its extensive and rather less individual grounds.

Last year’s event, Wildcard, was visually stunning

Clare May Ball

Price: £152 (Sold Out)

Theme: The Orient Express. Click here for more information:

For a single night, the familiar surroundings of Clare will be transformed into the world-famous stops along the famed route of the Orient Express. The sounds, sights, and smells associated with this love-letter to luxury travel will blend seamlessly with the best in modern music and entertainment: the bustle of Turkish bazaars will merge with the music of internationally-acclaimed artists; top-flight DJs will inhabit dusky Amsterdam bars. Stroll the streets of Paris; make a crowd or two of new friends in the biergartens of Munich and Bavaria. 

Last year: Not reviewed by The Tab.

Some spoilsports have (somewhat extremely) called this cultural appropriation

Tuesday Temptation: 14th June

Caius May Ball

Price: £157 (Sold Out)

Theme: Præternaturalia: an Electric Evolution. Click here for more information:

Præternaturalia, a brave new world of delights and enchantment. Brace yourselves for a feast for all the senses: a surfeit of stimuli. Look forward to an intimate embrace of ancient beauty and digital wonders, the sacred and profane, at this year’s can’t-miss May Ball. 

Last year: The Tab did not review last year’s party (June Event).

The strangest logo you’ve ever seen…

Christ’s May Ball

Price: £140 (Sold Out)

Theme: Biophilia. Click here for more information:

Humans become animals, and buildings come alive in an attempt to bring you closer to nature and the otherworldly side of your existence. Expect the natural, but also the more surreal, side of life. 

Last year: The Tab did not review last year.


St John’s May Ball

Price: £335 (Tickets On Sale) (John’s Students Only)

Theme: TBC! Click here for more information.

Last year: The Tab enjoyed the 2015 Ball, themed on Childhood Literature, but thought it didn’t quite live up to the 2014 Ball. We gave it 4 stars in our review:

My only quibbles were over small details, which I perhaps unfairly compared to last year’s ball. Such things as the quality of the wristbands (slightly chafing) and the programmes (less glossy) were noticeable, but only minutely detracted from the night. Yet if the greatest strength of John’s May Ball is that fairytale atmosphere, the small things do start to poke holes in the magic.

Last year’s ball

Newnham June Event

Price: £70 (Tickets On Sale)

Theme: Cosmos. Click here for more information:

An exploration of the cosmos, Greek Gods and the 60s space race. A baffling concoction that might be worth the hit. 

Last year: The Tab did not review last year.

Children’s party meets Ancient Greece

Wow Wednesday: 15th June

King’s Affair

Price: TBC (Tickets Out Soon)

Theme: TBC… click here for more information.

Last year: “Glitch”, as last year’s event was called, was a weirdly wonderful success, earning a June Event Rating of 4.5 stars. Check out our review:

“Glitch” was an excellent choice of theme. One of my friends perfectly summed up the word’s creative potential by poignantly asking beforehand, “what the fuck is Glitch and how am I supposed to dress as one?”

Last year’s event was typically bizarre

Pembroke June Event

Price: £88 (Sold Out)

Theme: Celestial. Click here for more information:

We invite you to take to the skies with us for a night of adventure and entertainment in Pembroke College, Cambridge on Wednesday 15th June 2016. With a record of five star reviews across the board, Pembroke’s June Events are a much-anticipated highlight of May Week and this year will be no exception.

Last year: Pembroke put on a May Ball overflowing with character and charm last year. Our reviewer gave it a May Ball Rating of 4.5 stars:

Pembroke is that small, perfectly-formed hidden gem of a college and its ball affirmed this magnificently. Next year, make sure to put Pembroke on your watchlist.

Another space theme…

Sidney Sussex May Ball

Price: £142 (Sold Out)

Theme: Beyond. Click here for more information:

Featuring four stages with all sorts of entertainment from silent discos, the “sounds of South America” and much more. 

Last year: The 2015 June Event was not reviewed by The Tab.

This theme has undoubtedly won the space race between this year’s celestially-themed events

Catz May Ball

Price: £135 (Sold Out)

Theme: Infusion: Electrify the Senses. Click here for more information:

So we bring you Infusion: taking apart sensation into each of its five elements and recombining them in ways you’ve never experienced. You will feel sound, touch taste and smell colour. Up-and-coming musicians, cutting-edge visuals and the best street food.

Last year: The Tab did not review last year.

10/10 the vaguest theme this year

Tit Hall June Event

Price: £90 (Tickets On Sale)

Theme: Tokyo to Kyoto.  Click here for more information:

Experience everything from the vibrant fashions of Harajuku and the neon lights of Shibuya to the Imperial palaces and tranquil gardens of the old capital, Kyoto.

Last year: Not reviewed.

More cultural appropriation!

Thursday Trouble: 16th June

Clare Hall June Event

Price: £75 (Tcikets On Sale)

Theme: Black and White. Click here for more information:

An event inspired by Truman Capote’s 1966 ball held in New York City’s Plaza Hotel.

Last year: A mystery.


Friday FFS: 17th June


Price: £105 (Tickets On Sale)

Theme: Havana Nights. Click here for more information:

On 17th June, we invite you to join us for a night in Havana as we celebrate 1950s Cuba! Expect fabulous live music, delicious food and plenty of rum. 

Last year: Again, a mystery.

Cuba! Rubio! Cruz!

St. Edmund’s & Wolfson

Price: TBC…

Theme: …TBC… click here for more information

We hope you look forward to a debaucherous, existentially transformative May Week.  

A NOTE ON THE TAB’S 2016 MAY BALL COVERAGE: This year, The Tab has decided not to review most May Balls, in protest at the May Ball Committee’s blanket ban on reviewer passes. Over the past two years, The Tab has been able to review a high proportion of May Balls thanks to these tickets, whether discounted or not.  But it is impossible to send Tab writers, who are concentrated across only a handful of colleges, to all May Week events – as we would love to do – without the help of reviewer tickets to get them to go. 

We hope that we can return to the norm by which individual ball committees can make their own decisions about whether or not it is in their interests to provide a reviewer’s pass to a Tab writer. This decision is purely in protest at the blanket ban. Next year, when we hope the ban is lifted, we will not refuse to review any May Ball for not offering a reviewer’s pass, given the tight budgets so many of them are operating on. It is the principle of a total ban, which is draconian and goes against the national culture of press passes to both charitable and non-charitable events, to which The Tab is opposed.