Manage your tickets on our ticketing system.
On behalf of the committee I welcome you to the website of the May Ball; it's 125 years since John's first opened its doors to a rather different set of ball goers; the white gloves and dance cards may have gone but the spirit remains that of distraction, delectation, and delight. Explore to find out about indulgent upgrades and our exclusive 1888 Club, capturing the luxury of a bygone age. Discover also about our chosen charities, Jimmy's Night Shelter and SCI. It will be our pleasure to welcome you to the ball in June, but until that glad day we recommend:
"Masked parties, Savage parties, Victorian parties, Greek parties, Wild West parties, Russian parties, Circus parties, parties where one had to dress as somebody else, almost naked parties in St. John's Wood, parties in flats and studios and houses and ships and hotels and night clubs, in windmills and swimming baths, tea parties at school where one ate muffins and meringues and tinned crab, parties at Oxford where one drank brown sherry and smoked Turkish cigarettes, dull dances in London and comic dances in Scotland and disgusting dances in Paris — all that succession and repetition of massed humanity."
If you're looking for the best Ents in May week then look no further than the St John's College May Ball. Whatever you're in the mood for, we've got it. Bands, DJs, orchestras, choirs, comedians, dancers, magicians... they'll all be there to make sure you have a night to remember.
In recent years we've hosted the likes of Calvin Harris, Dizzee Rascal, Big Boi, Chipmunk, Ellie Goulding, the Scissor Sisters and Flight of the Conchords, plus the finest talent Cambridge has to offer, and this year is looking set to be as exciting as ever. With six stages - plus our revered Ents on the backs - on the go at all times, we hope you have time to see everything you want.
Food & Drink
For your delectation, a wide range of sumptuous food will be available to guests throughout the night. Whatever your taste, it is sure to be satisfied by the savoury and sweet options provided in each of the courts. Those who have opted for the Dining upgrade will be provided with a five-course sit-down dinner of gastronomic delights, served in the Senior Combination Room, following a welcome reception - not to mention the indulgent breakfast menu.
Each item has been hand-chosen to complement the theme of the ball, and one of the aspects we pride ourselves on most is the fact that we surprise every year, revelling in the opportunity to be creative whilst retaining our reputation as the most prestigious and exciting May Ball in Cambridge.
Tickets cannot be bought by applicants external to the College.
Entrance to the ball for guests with a standard double ticket is 9pm and admissions to the ball normally close at around 10pm.
If you have any queries about our tickets or application process, check out our FAQ page for answers to some common questions.
Only double tickets, allowing two guests into the Ball, may be purchased in the following types:
|Alumni Double ticket||£350|
|1888 Club Double ticket||£495|
All tickets can have an optional £5 charitable donation added to them.
Double and Alumni Double tickets may also have the following upgrades added to them:
Unfortunately, a ticket will not be able to have both FastTrack and Dining upgrades attached to it.
Guests with a FastTrack upgrade on their ticket will gain admission an hour before other guests at 9pm and can enjoy the calm of a sparkling wine reception in Chapel Court, before the storm of the ball begins. Beat the crowds and start your evening in style.
Guests with a dining upgrade on their ticket will be admitted to the ball at 7.30pm for a delicious four-course meal accompanied by music in the SCR.
At 3am guests may take a breather for an indulgent three-course breakfast in the exclusive surroundings of the SCR.
For guests wanting to treat themselves and their friends to the very best the May Ball has to offer, we invite you to become members of the exclusive 1888 Club.
An 1888 Club upgrade entitles guests to start the Ball by attending a champagne and canapé reception for fellows and their guests hosted by the Master, Professor Chris Dobson, in the garden of the Master's Lodge.
Once the magnificent fireworks display has finished, guests can retreat to the 1888 Club VIP Suite which is located in the historic Parsons and Wordsworth rooms in Second Court. Here members of the Club will be treated to a selection of premium food and drink against the backdrop of beautiful acoustic performances from some of the country's best classical musicians.
Recently, it has become popular with guests for the 1888 Club to host an expert-led tasting of food or drink, with Chêne Bleu leading a wine tasting in 2011 and the Cambridge Wine Merchants hosting an international whiskey tasting in 2012. We plan to continue this tradition in 2013 and more details will be provided in due course. A hot breakfast will also be served to members of the Club in the early morning.
The 1888 Club is perfect for guests or alumni who wish to make their time at the Ball extra special and is particularly well suited to those wishing to attend the Ball in a group or as part of a reunion. Likewise, the Club is equally well suited to guests who are looking for a retreat, away from the hustle and bustle of the Ball, where they can enjoy a selection of food and wine in relaxing surroundings.
If you have any questions about the 1888 Club or would like to be considered for membership, please do not hesitate to contact the May Ball Vice-President, Sam Wolfe.
To whet your appetite for what the 1888 Club has to offer, see below for a testimonial from one of its longest standing members, Johnian Stephen Teverson:
Imagine being able to attend and be part of the 7th best party in the world - an almost magical spectacle of sights, sounds and sensations - and at the same time having exclusive VIP access to the best of the hospitality and history that St John's can offer, merely by stepping through a door! The modest 1888 Club upgrade option to a May Ball ticket, exclusive to those who have moved on from their undergraduate days, enhances an undoubtedly mind-blowing night into the social highlight of the year for my Johnian contemporaries and I.
While rappers and the myriad of other entertainers surprise and delight Ball goers every single second, 1888 Club members can serenely bypass admission queues, enjoy champagne in the idyllic setting of the Master's garden, meeting old friends and new, often accompanied by an harpist, have privileged early access to the transformed courts before the ball begins, and as the event moves into fantastic overdrive have the polished and panelled splendour of the tranquil candle lit Wilberforce and Parsons rooms at their sole disposal.
Butler service of fine wine from the college cellars, an excellent and imaginative buffet, interesting talks (2012 was whisky tasting, 2011 Gin from a new distillery opened by a Johnian), interludes of classical music and song performed live for 1888 Club members, convivial company and conversation, an opportunity to meet our Senior Members, a chance to catch up on college news, an environment in which it is natural to make new friends, a point for parties to rendezvous and plan their evening's entertainment, a chance to rest aching feet, even a welcome respite from inclement weather! All of this and more superbly hosted by the 1888 Club officials - along with a fabulous breakfast buffet as an early morning bonus - the 1888 Club has the lot!
Given that St John's College May Ball is rightly internationally famous and magnificently crowns the Cambridge Colleges' social calendar - the 1888 Club is indeed the flawless and many faceted jewel in this glittering crown. It is a fabulous opportunity for Johnians to enjoy our breathtaking Ball at their leisure, with impeccable arrangements, superb hospitality and extras that money just can't buy! I can but commend membership for the 2013 May Ball to all eligible Johnians and assure them that having been a member once, the year 1888 will be indelibly imprinted in their diary, alongside the date of our May Ball for many years to come.
Kind warm regards, and yours in the 1888 Club,
St John's College May Ball Committee feels very strongly that such a high-profile event should aim to make a significant contribution to charity. Every year we give thousands of pounds in donations from money raised at our launch party and proceeds from ticketing donations. This year we will be supporting Jimmy's Cambridge Night Shelter and the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative in conjunction with The May Ball Presidents' Committee. We will also be independently supporting SOS Children.
Jimmy's Cambridge Night Shelter
Jimmy's Cambridge welcomes 20 men and women who would otherwise be homeless, providing emergency accommodation and full support services. Our main aim is to find our guests suitable, sustainable accommodation. This cannot be achieved without addressing the underlying issues that brought a person to homelessness so we have a team that provides specialisms in, for example, alcohol, substance misuse, mental health, ex-armed forces, and counselling. We work with visiting specialists, for example, nurses, HIV/Hep workers, drug and alcohol recovery teams, and the Samaritans.
We also offer a range of activities that help our guests to rediscover and build practical and life skills. Additionally we provide opportunities for guests to be involved in how the service is run through the guest forum and service delivery group and input into policies and procedures.
Jimmy's is a place where guests can regain and maintain their self-respect and work their way back into society at large.
Please visit the Jimmy's Cambridge website to find out more.
Schistosomiasis Control Initiative
SCI delivers treatment against the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), schistosomiasis (bilharzia) and soil-transmitted helminths (worms), that affect over 500 million of the poorest people on earth. If left untreated these diseases cause stunted growth, disfigurement, chronic disability and an early death. They prevent children from going to school and adults from earning a living, trapping these communities in perpetual poverty.
SCI is part of the School of Public Health, Imperial College London, and with support from several donors has already helped 12 countries treat over 100 million people with safe, cheap, and effective drugs, supplied in partnership with the pharmaceutical industry.
Please visit the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative website to find out more.
SOS Children is a global charity which provides orphans and vulnerable children with a stable and positive family life. We protect and improve the lives of children in 125 countries, working with communities to keep fragmenting families together, and where this is not possible, building new families for children at risk.
Working together with local people and organisations, we identify needs and provide practical and emotional tools for parents and caregivers to prevent family breakdown and child abandonment. With a focus on long-term sustainability, we empower them to reach their potential, move towards financial independence and break the cycle of poverty.
When children lose their families and have nothing and no one, we ensure that they can grow up in a safe environment by creating new families. Headed by SOS mothers, they live together in our unique SOS Children's Villages, which are located in the heart of communities. Children are able to enjoy their childhood and learn skills so that they can develop into active, responsible adults. We establish schools and medical centres to ensure that more children have the opportunity of an education and access to quality medical care. Every year, our programmes reach over two million people.
As a global authority on alternative care, SOS Children works in partnership with the United Nations, advocating for the rights of all children and contributing towards the development of key child protection policies.
Please visit SOS Children's website to find out more.
St John's College May Ball is proud to be supported by our sponsors shown below.
Sea Island Coffee
Check out the Sea Island Coffee website.
Find out more about formal attire available on hire at the Moss Hire website.
Also visit their Cambridge branch opposite the college on St John's Street.
Have a look at what Linklaters have to offer at their graduate recruitment website.
Visit the Lafayette website to see the photographic services they can offer you.
May Ball Committee 2013
|Vice Presidents||Kieran Brunt & Sam Wolfe|
|Senior Treasurer||Tim Button|
|Junior Treasurer||Nick Edwards|
|Creative Coordinator||Louise Paterson|
|Ents||Niyi Adelakun & Zara Milner|
|Technology & Ticketing||Michael Hsu|