Formal Halls

Greetings from the Queens’ MCR Steward! If you enjoy good food, then you have made the right decision by choosing Queens’ as your college. Queens’ has an excellent reputation among Cambridge colleges for providing an amazing dining experience and I hope you will make the most of it during your time here! Below you will find everything you need to know to enjoy Queens’ dining to the fullest. If you have any questions, please contact the Steward on mcr-steward@queens.cam.ac.uk.

UpayChilli (Cashless Payment System)

First off, booking and payment for Formal Hall dinners is done online via UpayChilli. Using this site will make college life a lot easier! You can put money onto your University Card, which allows you to pay for meals in the buttery, pay for food and beverages in the Queens’ Café during daytime, pay for food and drinks in QBar in the evenings, and, of course book and pay for your Formal Hall Tickets. How to set up your UpayChilli account:

  1. Follow the instructions given on the website.
  2. The Company ID for Queens’ College is 32.
  3. Your User ID can be found on the back of your University Card in the bottom left hand corner, before the forward slash (e.g. xy1234t).

For more details, see here

On to the dining events:

Formal Hall

Formals are three-course dinners rather similar to your matriculation dinner. They cost £10.00 for you and £11.60 for your guest(s).

Dates

MCR-only dinners are held every Tuesday or Thursday during term-time (alternating). They are our very own private dinners and are wonderful to go to on a regular basis – or even just every now and then to celebrate a birthday or to invite some friends. There are also Formal Halls on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Although it says these are “JCR Formal Halls”, as a graduate student you are very welcome to attend!

Place and Time

Cripps Hall (Dining Hall), Queens’ College. The doors are closed at 19.30 (be sure to be there on time – otherwise you won’t be let in!).

Dress Code

The dress code is suit and ties for the gentlemen and an appropriate equivalent for the ladies (no jeans, sneakers or t-shirts allowed!). Gowns are mandatory for Queens’ members.

Drinks

Water as well as coffee and tea is served. You may bring up to one bottle of wine per person, for which no corkage fee is required. For MCR formals, pre-dinner sherry is served at 19:00 in the Woodville Room (or sometimes QBar) by the Woodville Steward. At MCR Formals, port is served at the end of your dinner.

Booking

You can book tickets for yourself and up to three guests on UpayChilli. Bookings open one month prior to the event and close at lunchtime of the weekday before the dinner.

Group Bookings

If you would like to invite a larger group than four people, contact the MCR Steward.

Vacation Formal Hall

Vacation Formals are the same as Formal Halls, apart from taking place during out of term-time and in the Old Hall. There are usually one to four vacation formals per term break.

Guest Night

Guest nights are slightly fancier formal halls; they are the perfect opportunity to invite up to two family members or friends to enjoy a lovely dinner in the beautiful Old Hall. They usually cost around 20£.

Dates

They happen two or three times per term. Exact dates will be advertised. In Lent Term, two Guest Nights are dedicated to the Scottish poet Robert Burns (Burns Nights).

Place and Time

At 19:30, Old Hall, with pre-drinks being served at 19:00 in the Woodville Room.

Dress Code

Black Tie and gowns for Queens’ members. If guests do not have a dinner jacket (tuxedo), they are also welcome to bring other dark formal attire to wear for the dinner.

Drinks

Like at Formal Halls, you are asked to bring your own wine. Port is served at the end.

Booking

As seats are limited, an application form will be sent out and tickets will be assigned with a random ballot. Those who are assigned their tickets pay via UpayChilli. Preference is given to those students who have not attended a Guest Night before.

Feast

Feasts are simply the HIGHLIGHT of each term where you will enjoy the best food Queens’ has to offer. They are very elegant, graduate-only dinners in the Old Hall to commemorate important people in College history. After a champagne reception and a group photo, you will enjoy a five-course meal in Old Hall and a cocktail party at the end of the night. Feasts usually cost around 40£.

Dates

Once per term. In Michaelmas Term, the Woodville Feast honours Elizabeth Woodville, one of the two queens who founded our college. In Lent Term, the Boar’s Feast commemorates King Richard III. The Machin Feast in Easter Term is held in honour of Kenneth Ewart Machin, a fellow at Queens’ who was Senior Tutor as well as Senior Treasurer of the MCR for many years. In Easter Term there is also the Barbels and Boar Feast (named after the animals depicted on our coat of arms and the badge), which is free and only open for those Graduate students who are about to finish their course and their studies at the college.

Place and Time

Old Hall. They usually start at 18.45 in the Old Kitchens for pre-drinks.

Dress Code

Black Tie. No gowns are worn.

Drinks

Are included for each of the courses, as well as claret and port after dinner. Additionally, there are pre- and post-drinks in the Old Kitchens.

Booking

An online application is sent out and the winners of a random ballot pay their tickets via UpayChilli. Preference is given to those students who have not attended a Feast before.

Midtable Dinner

These are regular Formal Halls to which you are specially invited by your Graduate Tutor. They are a lovely opportunity to get to know your tutor better as well as to interact with other fellows and graduates of the college. You will be seated with your tutor at a special table (the “mid-table”) in- between the High Table (for the fellows) and the regular tables (for the students).

Dates and Booking

You will receive an invitation from your Graduate Tutor, who will take care that you can attend at least once per term.

Place and Time

Both pre- and post-dinner drinks are usually at 7.15 in the SCR (Senior Combination Room).

Dress Code

Formal academic dress with gowns.

Drinks

Wine and water is provided during dinner and claret and coffee is served in the SCR.

Formal Exchanges

In addition to formal dinners in our own hall, members of Queens’ MCR have an opportunity to experience dining in other colleges in our termly formal exchanges, organised by the two MCR Formal Exchange officers. Several times per term we’ll visit a graduate formal hall in another college, and in turn host guests from other MCRs at one of our own formal dinners. Formal swaps are always a fun occasion, and a great way to explore the atmosphere of other Cambridge colleges, and meet students from outside the Queens’ community. Some of these formal swaps are “superhalls” with a specific theme, special menus and guests from multiple different colleges. For questions, get in contact with the Formal Exchange officers on mcr-exchanges@queens.cam.ac.uk.

Dates and Booking

Throughout the term, often one every other week. The events will be advertised a few weeks in advance via email to the MCR mailing list. Tickets are usually very limited for these events, especially for more highly sought after colleges. A tiered allocation system is however used to ensure that tickets are distributed fairly throughout the year.

Dress Code and Drinks

Dependent on the formal/college that is being attended. Details will be communicated via emails from the formal exchange officers.

Cambridge - Christ's College - 1479
Formal Hall of Christ College
Cambridge - Gonville and Caius College - 0948
Formal Hall of Gonville & Caius College

Group Bookings

Please follow these steps to make a group booking:

  1. Contact the appropriate Steward (JCR or MCR depending on the desired event) several weeks in advance to get permission to book a group.
  2. Submit a permission form to the Dean several weeks in advance (this is a separate permission and does not entitle any rights to book for a group without the Steward’s final decision). Forms are available at the catering office.
  3. Book and pay with Andrew Wilson at the catering office only when both permissions are confirmed. Bring dietary requirements for the entire group.
  4. Come to the event one hour in advance to request catering staff to separate a table for your group. Bring a sign to put on the table.

Bookings lacking permission from the Dean or the Steward can be cancelled at any point.

Tips for successful bookings:

  • Please include the number of guests, event, and current number of bookings if available on Upay in your request.
  • Permission is subject to availability. You have good chances of getting permission for mid-term formals, lower chances for the first and last formal of each term. Group bookings are not possible for vacation formals.
  • Sometimes we are unable to confirm a booking until 1 week prior to the event. Please keep this in mind to avoid making unrealistic invitations too early, and contact the Steward in due time.
  • No group bookings are accepted for Guest Nights or Feasts.
  • Formals on Tuesdays are your best shot.
  • Because port and sherry are not provided by catering but come from the MCR budget, we cannot provide spirits for your group.
  • It is more difficult to secure a booking for groups exceeding 20 guests.
  • If your group has no affiliation with the university (like groups from your old school, etc.) this request should be sent to the Conference office.
  • If your group is smaller than expected, you can always try to reduce the number of tickets before making a payment at least 48 hours in advance.
  • You can also reserve a table for normal meals, such as brunch, breakfast, etc.

That’s everything you need to know in a nutshell. Bon appétit!