Castle has three balls across the academic year. Ladies Night in November, Halfway Hall in February and culminating in the June Ball in the last Tuesday of the Easter term. Each is its own unique experience with no two balls being the same, and all having their own special significance to each year group.
Ladies’ Night is the first ball of the academic year for students of University College. Held in Michaelmas Term, this themed ball is predominantly focused at first years, their first Castle Ball during their time at Durham, and for finalists for whom the ball signifies the beginning of their final cycle in the College, however, second years and MCR students are also welcome to attend.
Following a champagne reception, the ball includes a three course sit down meal in Durham Castle’s Great Hall, professional photography, elegant rooms filled with beautiful decorations, and live dancing and entertainment throughout the night.
Ladies’ Night is very much a University College tradition. Its title, ‘Ladies’ Night’, refers to the practice of female students inviting their dates for the night. Traditionally many of the Castle’s rooms which are usually under lock and key also open for the event to house different entertainment for the guests.
Previous themes include ‘Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales’ and ‘Murder Mystery Masquerade’.
Halfway Hall falls in Epiphany term at the midway point of a 3 year degree, and is thus aimed largely at Second Year Students. It has further significance as the vast majority of Second Years live out, and so serves as a special occassion for them all to gather once more in the halls they called home the year before.
Like Ladies’ Night, Halfway Hall includes a sit down meal and live entertainment in addition to decorations reflecting the ball’s theme. Fewer rooms in the Castle are open for this ball as entertainment is focused predominantly in The Great Hall, The Undercroft Bar, and The West Courtyard.
Previous themes include ‘Marie Antoinette: Let Them Eat Cake’ and ‘Hogwarts’.
The June Ball is the largest of University College’s annual balls. The ball hosts around 900 undergraduates, postgraduates and teaching staff during the 12-hour white-tie event.
The June Ball is renowned across the country having featured in Tatler’s Bystander, The Guardian’s ‘Top 100 things to do before you die’, and Mastercard’s ‘Top Events Money Can’t Buy’.
The ball is the culmination of many years of hard academic study and is very much a Castle tradition, enshrined in our Standing Orders as one of the defining features of our time in Castle. The theme remains a closely guarded secret until guests arrive on the night. Previous themes have included ‘All the World’s a Stage’, ‘The Zodiac’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
The night begins with a champagne drinks reception, when the eagerly anticipated theme is finally revealed. Guests then begin a four course meal situated in the stunning surroundings of Palace Green, located directly between the greatest Norman building in England – Durham Cathedral – and the Castle. After dinner, the fireworks display greets guests entering the courtyard, after which they explore the ball, losing themselves amongst the grounds, halls, corridors, chapels and various magnificently themed rooms of the Castle. The night culminates with a survivors’ photograph and a celebratory breakfast.
Past June Balls:
The June Ball 2016 – Theme: A Night at the Museum
The June Ball 2015 – Theme: All The World’s A Stage
The June Ball 2014 – Theme: The Zodiac
If you would like to know more about the planning and preparation for any of these Balls, please find further information on the Ents Committee and the June Ball Committee. Or if you would like to get involved, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (Alicia Green, Social Chair 2016/2017)