The Tab’s Alternative Guide to May Week

Cambridge entertainment that won’t break the bank

alternative Budget Cambridge drink food garden parties Guide May Ball May Week Tab Theatre

So you’ve finished your exams, been liberally doused in £5 cava and all that lies ahead of you are the bountiful delights of May week.

But what is there to do if you’ve failed to sell enough clothes / limbs / relatives to afford a May ball ticket? Never fear: if you’re looking for some entertainment to fill the post-exam post-orgasmic bliss of May week without maxing out your overdraft, Cambridge is ripe with opportunity.

Garden Parties

Cambridge’s garden parties are the second poshest way possible to get pissed for free (ranking just behind ‘drinking pro-bono Bollanger out of the Queen’s navel’). If you’re involved in a society there’s a good chance they’re holding one, and it’ll likely be inexpensive if not free. There’s something for everyone, including:

  • WomCam on 14 June (free; BYOB)
  • AmnesTea on 15 June (free)
  • Plenty of subject- and soc-specific parties, usually around £5 – £20

Liberal sunshine and nibbles make garden parties an affordable extravagance, and a great way to meet other society members.



  • King’s Parade and Market Square are obvious choices, from blood orange sorbet at Benet’s to a Princess Charlotte waffle from the beloved Waffle Man.
  • Mill Road is less well-known by Cambridge students (most leaflets in Mill Road stores advertise discounts for Anglia Ruskin) but it’s a thriving international food hub, ranging from Italian food (Limoncello Delicatessen) to Korean (Bibimbap House) to fancy steakhouses (Rocker’s) and relaxed cafes (Relevant Record).
  • If you’re vegetarian/vegan and haven’t heard of the tucked-away Rainbow Cafe, check it out; other good veggie options include Taste of Cambridge (falafel) and Mee and I (noodles).

The crew at Taste of Cambridge


Of course, nothing beats the trusty raid-Sainsburys-for-cider-and-Doritos run, but if you want a snazzier drink than can be found at Spoons or the college bar, take advantage of Cambridge’s student-friendly pubs.

  • The Snug by the Grafton Centre has 2-for-1 Happy Hour on all their gorgeous cocktails everyday from 3pm (try the Old Fashioned or the Apple and Blackberry Crumble).
  • Las Iguanas has 2-for-1 cocktails all day, and Central-Cambridge favourite The Bath House also has 2-for-1 after 5pm, and three shots or five Sourz for £5 (get one of each flavour; they’re great for drinking games).
  • If you’re happy to stick with college bars, Fitz is cheapest for a pint, and Sidney’s mixed drinks will leave you change from £3 – Trinity and Newnham are also well priced (particularly if you stick to beer/cider).

Cocktails at the Grafton Centre’s Snug bar


The occasional day touristing is a guilty pleasure every Cambridge student should partake in, particularly if they’ve ever been herded into the road by a 100-strong crowd of excitable schoolchildren or Japanese tourists all wearing the same colour shirt.

  • Go to the Botanical Gardens. Unless you’re a BioNatSci, in which case it may bring on flashbacks.
  • Buy a dubious scarf and a fancy Scotch Egg from the market.
  • Visit colleges! Don’t lie, you still don’t know where Robinson is -so find out. Girton is worth the hike (stop moaning, it’s a straight road – and stop off at hidden gem Thorndyke on the way), and the lesser-known colleges are often just as striking as King’s and Trinity, from Darwin’s waterfront cottages to Emma’s paddock filled with homicidal ducks.

Emma library is best library #notbiased

Get lost in the residential streets; traverse Mill Road’s international supermarkets; find a whole new world or even a whole new Sainsbury’s (they exist!) Going left instead of right can be a peaceful way to waste a few hours alone or with friends.


It happens to the best of us. You swear you’re going to see that amazing innovative show at the ADC your college sister’s friend’s acquaintance is producing, but then essay crisis hits, the new GoT episode is out, you have to go Cindies on Wednesday… and suddenly the show’s over and you’re having to nod helplessly whenever your friend gushes about how avant-garde it was. Never fear; May Week is a perfect time to squeeze in your dose of culture for the term.

  • The Footlights are gracing the stage every day for the rest of term with their international tour show, Lagoon (7:45pm at the ADC).
  • Comedy is the order of the day elsewhere, too, from 23 Please: A Sketch Show (2:30pm, Corpus, from 14 June) to the last installment of Kenneth Watton’s Bedtime Chat Show (9:30pm, Corpus, 17 June). Alternatively, see sharp-witted comedian Bill Bayley take to the Corn Exchange stage (16 June).
  • And if you’re feeling high-brow – or you’re an English student and somehow don’t want to stab yourself yet whenever someone misquotes Hamlet – Shakespeare is featuring no less than four times in the May week lineup; Love’s Labour’s Lost at Caius (16-17 June), and Cymbeline at the Maria Bjornson Theatre (16 June).

Whether you’re a frugal foodie, a drunken reveller or a cultured specimen, May Week is the time to enjoy yourself, regardless of whether you’ve snagged a John’s ticket.