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Having a Ball – a guide to university events

If you love dressing up, then Durham is the perfect place for you. The University hosts a huge number of amazing and varied events and balls throughout the year for students to attend. This means you can work hard and play hard and let off some steam.  What makes these events even better is that they are organised by students (so you can get even more involved if you like), many of these events raise thousands of pounds for charity each year. Something that should definitely be celebrated. You most certainly will not be bored!

Just to show the sheer amount and variety, here’s a list of just a few of the great events

Durham University Charity Fashion Show

I’m not going to lie to you, this is one of Durham’s biggest events which is an entirely student-led charitable venture. It happens once a year over two nights, welcoming over 2,000 students, selling out in two seconds! This year it raised a record-breaking £106,000 for the charity Mind. It did not fail to be a true spectacle, showcasing up-and-coming British designers and international talent. With the models being Durham’s very own students. Yet it is more than a show, combining mediums of art, fashion, music, and performance. Prepare yourself for an amazing night.

Individual College Balls, e.g. Hatfield’s Lion in Winter Ball, Castle’s June Ball

Every year each college hosts their main ball (some hold many throughout the year). These normally follow a theme and include at least a three-course meal, live music and performances, fairground rides and much more. These are normally for college members only. If you’d rather skip the meal, then you can just buy an entertainment ticket instead and arrive after to make the most of what the Ball has to offer. Think insane tribute bands, silent disco, waffle, and burger stands, you name it…. It’s likely to be there.

Sports Balls, e.g. The Durham Palatinate Ball, Polo Ball, Cricket Ball, The Snow Ball (Ski and Snowboarding) etc.

To celebrate sporting excellence, Durham hosts many sporting events, with the Palatinate Ball being the overarching award ceremony. The event honours the sporting stars, with each sport having their own table at the ball. It gives the perfect opportunity to bring the teams together and to have a lovely three-course meal and a boogie. If awards are not your thing, then many other sports host their own individual balls and you don’t have to play the sport to attend. It’s a perfect opportunity to meet people from other clubs who travel to attend the balls also.

Society Balls, e.g. Gin Ball, Caledonian White Tie Ball, Drama Balls

To complement the vast array of societies there are numerous society balls, with amazing raffles, fairground rides, and headline acts.

Subject Balls, e.g. Law Ball

The perfect way to blow off some steam with your course mates and have a fantastic time. For example, the Law ball which is a highly anticipated event. This year it was held at the beautiful venue of Beamish Hall, with a champagne reception, three-course meal, and entertainment.

College Days

If dressing up isn’t your style, then Durham can still cater for you. Each college, once a year hosts their college day as an opportunity to celebrate the academic year and the existence of the College. The usual programme of events is unique to each college. Many start the day with a Champagne breakfast and entertainment throughout the day, which can include live music, games, fairground rides and end with dancing.  They’re a bit like mini-festivals!

College Barfest

The clues in the name, spend the day in College listening to music and tasting a variety of craft beers, cocktails and speciality ciders.

Sick of the balls? Yes, I know Durham has a lot of them. Fear not. Get yourself and some mates together to chill in your college bar and take part in the Pub Quiz. These occur a few times a term depending on the college.

I haven’t mentioned all the University events here but I hope you get a flavour of some of the social occasions Durham has to offer.



Freya Smellie

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