Formal Hall


Formal Halls happen at Downing on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Formal Halls are three-course candlelit dinners where students and fellows dine together in academic dress (gowns), and are a key part of any Cambridge College life. These are an excellent opportunity to relax, eat great food, and have a good time with friends in a spectacular setting.

Friday formals are particularly favoured by Downing graduates. On Fridays, sherry is served before dinner (from about 18:45) in the MCR Common Room. Afterwards, not only is port available in the Common Room, but the MCR bar will be open – a highlight of the Downing postgrad week.

The MCR Social Secretaries often arrange ‘swaps’ with other Colleges, to allow Downing members to go to formals at other Colleges (and for other Colleges to come to Downing!). Current students should keep an eye on their emails and the Downing MCR Events Facebook group for more information.

Information for Current Students

Most information about Formal Halls, including information on how to book, can be found on the College website. Formal Menus are often uploaded by the JCR to their homepage. A few extra tips are below:

  • Formals can be busy, particularly on Fridays, so if you want to guarantee being able to sit with a group of friends, please remember to turn up early to avoid disappointment.
  • If you would like to guarantee seating a group of people together for special occasion (e.g. a birthday) you can arrange to book a section of the table by emailing the Deputy Catering Manager, Jane Passey (jp303).
  • If you would like to purchase additional guest tickets beyond those allocated (e.g. for bringing lab groups to formals) then you need permission of the President ( before emailing Jane Passey to request tickets. Permission for larger groups will only be given on Wednesdays and Sundays, to help reduce demand on the Friday formal.
  • Finally, if you’re really planning on going all out, you can arrange to book a private formal in College by contacting the Internal Events Coordinator, Andy Lingham (arl42).