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Formal Dinners

Formal dinners, or ‘formals’, offer a great opportunity to dress up, put on your academic gown and socialise with students, staff and guests from college and beyond over good food. Students normally sit on long tables and there is a ‘High Table’ for College staff, invited guests, academics and Senior Common Room members. At the end of the meal, or over dessert, the Principal or other College Officer gives a speech, and afterwards students and high table guests mingle together over coffee and mints, or local cheese.

Sometimes formals are themed and the speech is by a guest speaker and linked with the theme. In 2023 for example, alumnus and Fairtrade pioneer Richard Adams spoke at our Fairtrade Formal, and student Izzy at the Love is Love Formal.

Our new “Once a Johnian” formals bring together alumni, students, guests and staff across the University to network and share experiences on a particular theme or area of work. On these formals there is no high table, everyone mixes together, and there may be a seminar or panel discussion as part of the programme.

Unlike most other colleges, St John’s formals are free, all you need to bring along is wine or soft drinks.

Once or twice every term, we have a special, black-tie 'mega-formal' – tickets are normally £5 and include a sparkling drinks reception!

For a bit more detail on the dress code, check out this blog: Freshers: Formals.

St John’s normally hosts weekly formals during term-time, and although you may not be able to go every week, there are plenty of opportunities to attend this special feature of college life.