Inside Cambridge’s booze-fuelled May Ball — where students end the night skinny dipping

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Nothing to see here.
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Joe Giddens / PA Wire / PA Images

At the end of every academic year at the University of Cambridge, elaborate celebrations take place.

Students of all year groups don their ball gowns or bow ties and prepare for a night of eating, drinking, dancing, swimming, and general overindulgence.

Called May Balls, but hosted in June, the celebrations are final post exam blowout before students head home for the summer.

Each college hosts its own May Ball, but they’re not all created equal. Tickets for balls at the biggest colleges with the most funding can cost up to £350, according to the ‘Which May Ball’ blog, which is run by students.

On Monday, two of the biggest college May Balls coincided: Trinity College and Jesus College.

Drinking and merry-making continues all through the night. ‘Survivor photos’ are a longstanding tradition for those who have the stamina to make it till dawn.

This year was no different. Students ended the festivities with a skinny dip in the river Cam, which must have been a welcome relief from Monday’s 31-degree heat.

Scroll down to witness the May Ball aftermath in all its boozy glory:


Hi! Welcome to May Ball, 2017. Exams have gone well or terribly and you’re finally ready to let loose and blow off some steam. Here’s how it’s going to pan out.

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Oh, hey.
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Joe Giddens / PA Wire / PA Images

May Balls are a glamorous affair. Dress codes can be black or white tie and usually have a theme. Themes this year included ‘The Night Circus,’ ‘Monopoly,’ and ‘Outerspace’.

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Is this art?
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Joe Giddens / PA Wire / PA Images

Source: Which May Ball.


According to The Mirror, revellers enjoyed a five-course meal, followed by oysters, a hog roast, and a chocolate fountain.

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Kicking back.
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Joe Giddens / PA Wire / PA Images

Source: The Mirror.


It doesn’t come cheap, though. Tickets for the biggest colleges balls can cost upwards of £350 — not counting VIP options. That’s not something to jump about.

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PA

College budgets for the May Ball vary from the relatively low-key to the downright absurd. Competition between colleges to put on the best show is hot.

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Joe Giddens / PA Wire / PA Images

According to Cambridge’s student magazine, Varsity, Trinity College’s budget for the May Ball in 2015 was £286,000 ($361,000).

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Did someone say damsel in distress?
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Joe Giddens / PA Wire / PA Images

Source: Varsity.


A big part of the May Ball budget is spent on fireworks, which take place over the River Cam. Punts fill the Cam as students clamber to get the best view of the overhead action.

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Wikimedia Commons

Well-known acts often perform at the Balls. Last year’s headliners included Tinchy Strider and The Hoosiers.

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The boys, the boys.
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Joe Giddens / PA Wire / PA Images

People who make it through the entire night make it into ‘survivor photos’, which often end in a dip in the Cam.

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PA Wire / PA Images

Swimwear: Optional.

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PA Wire / PA Images

Although, some opt to keep their feet dry.

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PA

The future of Britain’s intellectual elite has never looked so bright.

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Joe Giddens / PA Wire / PA Images