Save the date: A guide to the year’s best events

Sarah John looks at the best events of the next academic year.

welly ball
Photo: Raphael Benros


Dust off those ball gowns and tuxedos, incoming Freshers, because hailed as one of the unofficial rites of passage of every St Andrews Fresher is the Kate Kennedy Club Opening Ball. Held around a month after the commencement of the term, the Opening Ball serves as a preview for the many more balls to follow throughout the year. Balls being the epitome of St Andrews culture, it would be a serious faux-pas to give this one a rain check. One of the biggest Kate Kennedy Club events of the year, you will no doubt look back upon your first year as a St Andrews fresher and fondly remember dancing the night away, dizzy on champagne at Lower College Lawn.


They are the photos you see in St Andrews brochures, on the university website, and even on Daily Mail. The famed Raisin Weekend takes place at the end of October, when academic families spend Saturday and Sunday engaged in numerous drunken, and hopefully legal, shenanigans. Characterised by a chain of binge-drinking events, it is not uncommon to see students roaming Market Street in an intoxicated stupor, chasing after the next item on a scavenger hunt crafted by sadistic academic parents. On Sunday, hundreds of students, dressed up in the most absurd costumes their parents could muster, gather in Lower College Lawn to take part in the United Kingdom’s biggest fancy-dress foam fight, which culminates the festivities. Arguably the highlight of first year, while the occasion itself is not to be forgone it does beg the question: if you can recall everything you did on Raisin Weekend, did you truly experience Raisin Weekend?

Later in the month, as Halloween approaches and students find yet another excuse to wear their scariest or sexiest costumes, you may find yourself with a plethora of spooky events to attend. By far the best is House of Horror, the hair-raising, haunted mansion-themed night out that has been recently resurrected from the grave. Having taken place at Kinkell Byre—a converted barn—it is sure to promise you a frighteningly good time.


Christmas arrives early in St Andrews, with the Mermaids’ Annual Christmas Ball. The event never fails to disappoint, year after year, and continues to be showered with praise. The previous year, guests were supplied with crêpes, ice cream, and other goodies, along with magical Yuletide photo ops at Santa’s Grotto. The last major ball of the year before Martinmas Semester draws to a close, if you would like to squeeze in one final hurrah before the looming exam diet and celebrate the holidays early with your uni family, Christmas Ball is the place to be. A word of advice: Christmas Ball tickets are notorious for selling out absurdly fast, so keep tabs on ticket sales, or else you will find yourself at the mercy of ticket scalpers.


Following the craze of Refresher’s Week in late January, February in St Andrews brings with it the rise of haute couture and all things vogue. Fashion show season commences with two of the most prestigious student-run fashion shows in the UK—the St Andrews Charity Fashion Show, and Don’t Walk. Both alike in dignity, these two shows enjoy coverage by Tatler year after year, as the magazine strives to capture the blood-pumping glamour and glitz of the St Andrews high fashion scene. While it is not uncommon for the average St Andrews student to make an appearance at every fashion show held in this town, for those who find that endeavour a bit unreasonable, it is highly recommended you attend at least one. Fashion shows comprise of a significant part of the lifestyle of this small yet somehow cosmopolitan, fashion-forward town, and you would not want to miss out on one of the hottest, trendiest events of the year.


Whether or not you choose to acknowledge it, St Andrews has an image to uphold. Formal attire, posh sports, champagne-guzzling, and other urbane frivolities all merge together in what is perhaps the most characteristically “St Andrews” event of the year: The Charity Polo Tournament. Teams from all across the UK are summoned for a day of chukkas out on the scenic fields of Errol Park Estate in Perthshire. The polo tournament boasts the utmost panache and sophistication, and is a welcome excuse for students to pop bottles upon bottles of Bouvet and day-drink to their hearts desire. If equestrian sports, a chance to dress up, and bottles of bubbly are all part of what makes an event for you, then the Charity Polo Tournament will be a fantastic penultimate hurrah of the year.


May Ball never fails to bring a sensational year at St Andrews to an end with a bang. Here The Kate Kennedy Club never disappoints with the last big blowout of the year, providing all the flair, elegance, grandeur and pure enjoyment that their events are known for. Ball gowns and bow ties paired with champagne and peaches-and-cream colour schemes make for a ritzy, tasteful night of merriment. May Balls of years past have set up an assortment of carnival rides as well, just to add to the fun. In any case, what better way to finish up a year at St Andrews with one last ball?

Closely connected to May Ball is the May Dip, an annual, early-morning event where students rise at the crack of dawn to plunge into the ice-cold waters of the North Sea while the sun peeks over the horizon. Often, students will have been up all night hopping from house party to house party, and so the crowds at beach are not early risers, but rather drunken hordes of skinny dippers seeking to wash away their academic sins and obtain luck for their upcoming exams. This self-baptising is another St Andrews tradition that you will be sorry to miss out on, and who else other than a St Andrews student would be able to boast drunkenly splashing through a freezing Scottish sea while the sun rises behind you?


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