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It is fair to say that the move of Grad Ball from the Great Hall to Blackpool Tower has split students across campus. In our last issue, SCAN reported that tickets could cost up to £80 if you opt in to having food at the venue before the main event. The idea of introducing food to the event came from feedback from 2012 Grad Ball which suggested that the night had felt more like a more expensive extrav than a ball.
Many students had said they would like the event to have been more formal and that had food been provided, in the form of a sit down meal, the night would have felt more so. Similar feedback this year has shown that when students were asked: “Would you be interested in food at Grad Ball?” 74% of people, from a survey of 487 current students, said yes. It had also been commented that the Great Hall seemed a disenchanting venue as students sit exams there in the previous weeks and when asked this year if students would be happy with the Tower Ballroom as the venue for Grad Ball, 62% of students said yes.
A problem identified by the event organisers, with having the event in the Great Hall, was the splitting of entertainment areas. Both The Great Hall and the Nuffield Theatre are used to accommodate the evening acts, essentially splitting the event in two and jeopardising the atmosphere.
Many other factors came into the decision to move Grad Ball. The Great Hall costs around £7000 to hire for the night – plus the price of decorations, the running of two rooms and acts for these two rooms. The decision was made that something had to change. Grad Ball had to become that once in a lifetime “wow factor” event again. Many other venues were considered such as the Blackpool Winter Gardens which hosted Grad Ball up to 2004. This venue was deemed out of date and lacking in aesthetic appeal. The Tower Ballroom became the obvious choice with a recent £500,000 investment in 2011 being put into the restoration of the room and the area around it. It looks as spectacular today as it did when it opened in 1894 and so it needs very little decoration for Grad Ball.
The venue choice for this year’s Grad Ball has received a lot of positive feedback from students as they recognise the unique architecture and beauty of the Ballroom. The venue itself has hosted many prestigious events including the finals of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing from 2004 to 2011.
Libby Martin, LUSU Vice President (Events & Democracy), told SCAN: “Moving [Grad Ball] to such a prestigious venue is exciting in itself. It’s much more fitting for a ball, being one of the most beautiful places I have been to in Britain, but also houses so much more in terms of entertainment (watch this space) and the opportunity to celebrate for longer, if you wish, by making a weekend of it and visiting the many attractions in Blackpool. It also means that there could potentially be the option of a meal, something that was desired by attendees last year but is impossible in the Great Hall.”
SCAN cannot confirm yet exact ticket prices for the main event, but we have heard that they could cost between £35 and £40 with a Purple Card, an additional £7 for transport and a possible £36 if students opt in to the food option. We will bring you more on prices and details as we receive them.