Many of the country’s brightest young minds have let their hair down at the annual Cambridge May Balls to celebrate the end of exams and the academic year.
Students at the elite university were dressed in their finest for the night of fine dining and dancing in the centuries-old colleges as part of a tradition dating back to 1838.
But the sedate celebrations this year with entertainment such as yoga at sunrise seemed a far cry from the wild scenes of hedonism and debauchery from the balls of previous decades.
The sensible revellers returning from Emmanuel College’s ball this morning were pictured arm in arm in their black tie and ball gowns returning to their homes in the morning with their modesty very much in tact.
May Balls, which originally took place in May but are now after exams in June, have seen students in the past stripping off and jumping in the river and teaming up to throw eggs at gatecrashers.
One was even shut down by police after a crush was caused watching The Stranglers at King’s in the 1970s.
Students returning home from last night’s May Ball at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, had to wrap up warm after a long night of partying
The revellers were dressed to the nines in black tie and ball gowns but many ditched the high heels for trainers after a night on their feet
The sedate scenes of this year’s revellers seems a far cry from the May Balls of previous years where guests were seen throwing eggs at gatecrashers at Magdalene in 1983
Guests make sure to take a selfie after the celebration which is the biggest event in each college’s social calendar with tickets costing £190 for the party at Emmanuel College
Revellers at Magdalen College May Ball in 1997 were pictured frolicking on the grass in their finery while students today were enjoying yoga at sunrise at the prestigious event
This year’s theme at Emmanuel was ‘Mille Miglia, Racing Through Italy’ and tickets for the exclusive event cost as much as £190.
Stalls offering cocktail ice lollies, Ferrero Rocher brownies and vodka candy were on offer to the students at the college throughout the night before a ‘Survivors’ Photo’ and a bacon sandwich at 6am.
The guests were also treated to a variety of musical performances, theatre, comedy, magic, a casino and even yoga at sunrise at the no-expenses-spared event.
Each college holds its own May Ball on the week commencing the second Thursday in June after exams.
This year’s ball theme at Emmanuel was ‘Mille Miglia – Racing Through Italy’ – and this student was certainly racing to get home after the long party
At least one party-goer did the well-worn student tradition of taking a traffic cone and dancing on the streets of the university city
Students at Emmanuel College enjoyed unlimited food and drink throughout the night with a range of entertainment on offer
Two years ago, students stripped down to their underwear and swam in the river in the morning after attending a May Ball
Guests were treated to food stands from all over the world including pizza, Ferrero Rocher brownies, Vietnamese curry and falafel wraps – but that didn’t stop these hungry revellers having a pit-stop at McDonald’s on the way home
After a night of drinking with a wide variety on offer from vodka candy and gelato cocktails to tequila slammers and Italian fizz, a bottle of water was a sensible idea for the return journey home
One attendee at Trinity’s May Ball in 2005 left the event slightly more exposed than when he arrived (left), while a couple returned from a 2006 ball with an England flag draped on their shoulders (right)
Students this year preferred to take photographs on the way home as they made the most of the glorious sunrise after staying up until 6am
A pair of happy attendees still appear full
What is the May Ball at Cambridge University? How lavish tradition dates back to 1830s
The ball has been held every year apart from 1910 when King Edward VII died and between 1939 and 1945 during the Second World War.
The first one was held in 1838 when 38 Trinitarians happily drank their way through 47 bottles of champagne, 12 of sherry, six of Mosel, two of Claret, six quarts of ale and 16 huge servings of punch at a post-race dinner at the Hoop Inn.
The event is held on the first Monday of May Week, which, despite the month in the title, always takes place in June after exams.
While previous acts at May Balls have included rock bands, this year’s offering includes pop stars Pixie Lott and Mabel at the prestigious events
May Balls have been known for their hedonism as students finally celebrate after a hard year of studying but colleges have cracked down on bad behaviour in recent years
One ball attendee enjoys a soothing walk by the River Cam after the night’s excesses as the students make their way back to their accommodation
Students were even happy to cycle back from the event through the city’s cobbled streets following the draining all-night-long revelry
Two students need a lie down on a wall after the 2017 Trinity May Ball and made sure to hold on to their flowers
Highlights from this year’s ball at Emmanuel College included musical performances, comedy, theatre, a cinema, and fairground rides
Each college holds its own May Ball on the week commencing the second Thursday in June after exams to celebrate the end of the academic year
In previous years, students have been seen returning home shirtless carrying bottles of half-drunk champagne such as these revellers at Trinity in 2016
A group of young women still dressed in their ball gowns return home but it appears they have swapped the heels for something more comfortable
The occasion is notorious for giving the young revellers a chance to frolic in the streets as they celebrate the end of their exams
A pair of guests at the exclusive event make their way home from the event with a mask, an umbrella and glitter
The tradition of May Balls in Cambridge started in the 1830s with the first official one being the First and Third Trinity Boat Club May Ball in 1866
A popular tradition at May Balls is to take a punt on the River Cam after the event such as these students at Clare College in 1988
Budgets for the prestigious events regularly exceed £100,000 with some as high as £400,000 for the one night of partying
The survivors at the end of the long night made sure to take a selfie to capture the memories of an unforgettable party
The event is held on the first Monday of May Week, which, despite the month in the title, always takes place in June after exams
The theme of this year’s ball was inspired by Italian cities and a range of Italian themed food, drink and entertainment was on offer
A pair of students still appear bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after sunrise this morning despite spending all night partying at Emmanuel College
Yesterday, students at Cambridge took part in their annual ‘Suicide Sunday’, another celebration to mark the end of exams.
A cardboard boat race took place on the river with the witty students poking fun at Brexit and the famous bus from the 2016 referendum.
Undergraduates painted their cardboard creation red and wrote ‘we send the EU £350mil, let’s fund our NHS’ and ‘boat leave’ on the side. Another boat was labelled ‘daddy’s yacht’.
Cambridge students poked fun at the Brexit battle bus during the ‘Suicide Sunday’ cardboard boat race, painting their creation red and writing ‘boat leave’ on the front
Another student labelled their boat ‘daddy’s yacht’. Around 2,000 undergraduates lined the historic Backs in the city centre to watch 20 teams cause chaos in the 10th year of the unusual race
The students spent the morning making their rafts with cardboard, glue and Gaffa tape, then clambered inside and attempted to float them down the river.
Around 2,000 undergraduates lined the historic Backs in the city centre to watch 20 teams cause chaos in the 10th year of the unusual race.
Many students downed wine, beer and shots before the race and struggled to stay on board their flimsy rafts, with many capsizing before the finishing line, while others jumped into the water for fun.
Crowds of spectators clapped and cheered along the busy course, which ran from Jesus Green to Magdalene Bridge.
The Sunday immediately after the end of the summer term at Cambridge is known as Suicide Sunday. By this date, most students have finished exams but most of the results have not been published, so it is traditionally a period of nerves and suspense.
The students spent the morning making their rafts with cardboard, glue and Gaffa tape, then clambered inside and attempted to float them down the river
What and when are the biggest parties in the Cambridge University social calendar?
Students quaff champagne at a Cambridge May Ball
Partying has become an age-old ritual at Cambridge and there are even special drinking societies that organise debauched events such as:
Caesarean Sunday is seen as the birth of the drinking parties for the summer term. It historically included members of Girton and Jesus colleges’ drinking society takes place at a park in Cambridge’s city centre, on the first bank holiday of the summer term.
Suicide Sunday: The party at Cambridge University is a traditional event in which hundreds of students celebrated finishing their exams. In recent years, the Suicide Sunday garden party, organised by the Wyverns, an all-male Magdalene College drinking society, has been held in a new location for the first time in 80 years after officials banned students from holding the event on university.
VT valley rally: Its winter equivalent, the VT valley rally, occurs during the annual Varsity ski trip, is quickly catching up to Suicide Sunday’s levels of debauchery. Previously female students stripped to their underwear in front of hundreds of onlookers, while both men and women simulated sex acts with each other.
The Wyverns drinking society has a reputation for its hard partying and excessive drinking. Its initiation ceremony involves eating a 15-course meal with delicacies such as a pig’s snout with wasabi sauce and a pint of water with a goldfish swimming inside.
The Ferret drinking society: The Ferretz, an inter-collegiate drinking society, must consume 80 units on their initiation. They usually start with a bottle of gin and finish off with a bottle of port – consumed through a condom. Girls are also encouraged to kiss strangers.