Formal (university)

Formal hall or formal meal is a meal held at some of the oldest universities in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland (as well as some other Commonwealth countries) at which students usually dress in formal attire and often gowns to dine. These are held commonly in the colleges and halls of Oxford,[1] Cambridge,[2] Dublin, Durham, St Andrews, Bristol, London, the Australian sandstone universities (Adelaide, Melbourne, Queensland, Sydney, Tasmania, Western Australia), and Toronto.

St John's College, Cambridge Formal Hall

In a number of red brick universities, some halls such as those at Bristol, Leeds and Exeter, also practise similar traditions in order to increase interaction between academics and students, and to enrich the students' overall learning experience. Colleges of some Australian red brick universities, including the Australian National University, Monash University, the University of New England, the University of New South Wales and the University of Southern Queensland, also hold gowned formal dinners.

The nature of 'formals' varies widely between the colleges and halls that hold them. In some colleges, formals may be held every night, and are simply a second sitting of hall at which gowns are worn and grace is read. In other colleges, formals may be special events to which guests from outside the college are frequently invited, often with themes and associated ents or "bops". In between these two extremes fall the great majority of colleges.

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