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When is Formal Hall?

Every Thursday and Friday during term.

What do I wear?

The dress code is smart but not black tie (unless indicated on the schedule). Academic gowns must be worn by all members of the University (including visitors from other Cambridge colleges). In the Porters' Lodge there are a few spare gowns that can be borrowed for the evening.

How do I book?

Please use the Formal Hall website booking system. You can use the booking system to indicate any dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian, halal, vegan or particular allergies). The booking deadline is strictly 12 noon on the Tuesday before a Thursday dinner, or 12 noon on the Wednesday before a Friday dinner.

What is the etiquette for Formal Hall?

All College members and guests who are members of the University should wear gowns for Formal Hall. Please do not use mobile phones or flash photography or get up and move around before the second grace has been said. It is particularly important that you try to avoid leaving the Hall unless in an emergency. This is partly because of the formal nature of the event but also because the kitchen staff are carrying hot food by the screens at the exit and we want to avoid the possibility of an accident occurring.

How much does it cost?

You can check current prices via the booking system. For 23/24 the cost for Lucy Cavendish students is £15.90 and for guests of students £19.08. The cost for others (Members of the Combination Room, Alumni and their guests, and guests of Fellows) is £28.50.

A glass of Sherry or alcohol-free option is included on arrival. Wine can be purchased at the Warburton Hall Bar during the sherry reception at £9.50 per bottle of wine (by debit card only), and it is not included in the meal price. We will provide jugs of tap water for the tables.

Drinks can not be purchased in the New café bar and brought over for Dinner. Personal drinks and wine are not allowed to be brought into halls for Dinner. These will be removed, and able to collect post dinner.

How do I pay?

Payment is taken from your Meals Funds at the time of booking. Funds can be topped up via the website through your formal hall account (click on the tab at the top that says “EPOS”). Please contact the Finance Office at if you have any problems with the payment.

Wine for dinner can be purchased at the Warburton Hall Bar during the sherry reception and paid for by Debit card.

I am a vegetarian / vegan / eat halal only/ coeliac...can you cater for my special diet?

Yes we can and are happy to do so but you must indicate this on the booking form as the kitchen staff require notice in advance. On arrival, you will collect your dinner place card which must be placed on your dinner setting when dinning so the Waiting staff know your Dietary needs.

If you have any questions regarding dietary needs, please contact the catering team directly at

What if I cannot log in to the Formal Hall booking website?

Those with a Raven Login should access the system using their Raven Login. Visitors without a Raven Login should use the Login option on the righthand side. Please contact the Finance Office at if you have any problems accessing the system.

Problems with booking?

If you are not able to access the internet, there is a communal PC in the Porters' Lodge that can be used. If you have tried this and are still having trouble please email Please note that this inbox is only checked at the following times each week: Monday afternoon at 4pm, Tuesday morning at 11am (for Thursday Formals) or Wednesday morning at 11am (for Friday Formals).

Can I bring guests?

Indeed! Members of the College are encouraged to bring guests and up to three guests can be booked online. Larger groups are also encouraged but these need to first be approved by the Steward. Please email to ensure that sufficient space is available. If you are bringing any special guests please email

Can I bring my supervisor?

Each student can invite one supervisor each year to their particular subject evening and since this is a way of thanking the supervisors for their help, the College is happy to pay on this occasion. Please contact to make the booking for you. Please liaise with your Director of Studies (DoS) and other students if you share supervisors and the DoS will make the invitation on behalf of the College.

Can I bring my child?

By popular vote it has unfortunately been decided that Formal Hall is not an appropriate occasion for children under the age of 16. However children of any age are very welcome to standard College lunch and supper.

I cannot make it any more, can I cancel?

You can cancel via the website until midday on the Tuesday before for a Thursday dinner or midday on the Wednesday before for a Friday dinner. After that time your payment cannot be refunded and dietary requirements or seating requests cannot be altered.

What's on the menu?

You can view the menu for the coming week via the booking system.

Seating arrangements

We generally have a seating plan which is displayed upstairs above the dining hall during pre-dinner drinks. It is also available via the booking system from 2pm on the day of the Formal Hall for information only (via the "Seating Plan for This week's Formal Hall" option on the blue banner). Please indicate in the 'additional information' section of the web booking form if you would like to sit with a particular person or group.

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Back to Formal Hall

What is a formal hall swap?

A formal hall swap is when one college hosts another for formal college dinner. For example: Lucy Cavendish visiting a college is a Swap-Out, Lucy Cavendish hosting a college is a Swap-In.

Who do we swap with?

Generally, Lucy Cavendish (being a mature college) swaps with other college MCR/Graduates members. Next academic year, with the changes in Admissions policy, this is likely to change too.

What is the schedule for a Swap-Out?

Pre-drinks, 3 (or more) food courses, Post-formal drinks and socialising at the host college bar. Every college is unique in the way they do formal hall. There is always an element of surprise!

What is the dress code for a Swap-Out?

Unless specified please assume the dress code is Cocktail/Lounge. It is important to respect ALL college dress codes. Casual wear is unacceptable. Gowns are essential unless you are told otherwise.

How do I sign up for a Swap-Out?

Wait for the ents email and then sign up via the doodle link/Google doc form with name and email/cam I.D.

Email reservations/responses will not be accepted. Signups are first come first served. A waiting list will be opened should the swap be oversubscribed. Once the doodle link/Google form has been deleted it means the dining list and waiting list are full.  

Can I reserve places for friends, family and/or non-Lucy Cavendish students?

No! Lucy Cavendish Swap-Outs are only for Lucy Cavendish students. Places are reserved by who signs up first. In the interest of fairness please do not sign up friends and family members whether they are Lucy Cavendish students or not.

How do I pay for my place?

Payment is the only way to secure your place on the swap out. Payment should be made within 7 days of your sign up. The method of payment will be sent to you in email.

Should the Ents officer need to “chase” for payment then your place will be allocated to someone else.  

 When do you need my full name and dietary options by?

  • Doodle link - As soon as you pay for your place you will receive an email. Please respond to the email by deadline so that your full name and dietary options can be sent to the hosts.
  • Google Docs form – as soon you sign up. Dietary options cannot be changed once submitted/emailed.

I signed up and paid for my ticket but need to cancel. What should I do?

Your place is paid for and the name card has been created so there are no refunds from Ents. You’re free to sell your place via the Lucy Cavendish College SU mailing list. If you find no Lucy Cavendish member is interested in the ticket try to sell to a member of the university see Cambridge formals marketplace on facebook. 

If I participate in a swap-out do I have to attend a Lucy Cavendish swap in?

This is entirely up to you. Your Swap-In attendance is encouraged as a will of good gesture to the college that hosted us.

How do I host my own swap-in?

Please contact: about hosting a group of more than three people at Lucy Cavendish College.

How do I host my own swap-out?

You are welcome to contact the social officer and/or dining officer at the college you wish to visit. The way to get their email is to visit their college MCR/JCR website. Or better yet, put your name forward to be the new Lucy Cavendish SU Ents Officer!