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Christmas Comes to St Andrews: Christmas Ball 2019 Reviewed

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

“Why doesn’t it feel like Christmas this year?”

Growing up each year it seemed that the lead up to Christmas inevitably felt somewhat lacklustre, never living up to unrealistic expectations of jolliness and Christmas magic. It all would lead up to Christmas in the end and that feeling of inadequacy would be forgotten as time passed. This reviewer, and others he spoke to, was taken back to his missed childhood expectations and drawn to think “Why doesn’t Christmas Ball feel like Christmas Ball this year?”

Not to set a negative tone off the bat, it must be said that you do get your pounds-worth with a ticket to Christmas Ball. Although one could debate the empirical worth of a night at Kinkell Byre, Christmas Ball – priced at £38 – came through with complimentary prosecco, Janettas, chocolate fondue and performances by St Andrews finest acapella groups.

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I must say, I am not much of a man for acapella myself, however it was impossible not to appreciate the dulcet tones of the Other Guys, Hummingbirds, Accidentals and Alleycats floating throughout the different areas venue throughout the night. As far as Kinkell black tie events go, you would be hard pressed to find a better value or more beloved event.

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Christmas Ball just beat out Advent Ball to be the final ball of the decade, a fact they perhaps could have capitalised on more. The theme, “Christmas Around the World”, additionally felt a bit neglected. Apart from the iconic upside down Christmas trees and an abundance of fairy lights, the venue wasn’t decorated too dissimilarly from any other Kinkell black tie event. A far cry from the comprehensive designs of 2016s “Nightmare before Christmas” or even last years “Through the Looking Glass”, the 2019 event lagged a bit on the design fronts. The absence of characters to take pictures with in the grotto area, such as the Red Queen of 2018 and Jack Skellington and Mrs. Clause of 2016 was felt as well.

There was additionally a lack of diversity in food options. Last year, supplemental to the beloved complimentary Janettas and chocolate fountains, the ball boasted four food vendors. This year, food options was limited to just The Cheesy Toast Shack – which, don’t get me wrong, is superb and was up to the task with a Christmas toastie in accordance with the season.

As is St Andrews tradition, Christmas Ball was the fastest selling out event of the year, with tickets instantly being resold for up to three times their face value on Facebook pages. We all lament the ticket reselling culture, however those who were so eager to attend this ball that they dropped up to triple digits on tickets may lament it most of all as some tickets were resold for less than face value in the days immediately leading up to the ball. All I can say is that I’m thankful I never had to endure in person Christmas Ball ticket sales as others have in years past.

A definitive strength of the night was the music. Deftly complementing a packed venue, the event hosted various acapella, live music and DJ acts – keeping all attendants entertained throughout the night. St Andrews is exceptionally lucky to have such a wealth of talent in the arts, talents which were skilfully shown off throughout the evening, as was to be expected by such an established performing arts organisation such as the Mermaids.

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Christmas Ball is that final night of revelry before revision begins and once again St Andrews students forget what life is like outside of the library walls. First years, fourth years and post-graduates alike come together to spread Christmas cheer – 2019 being no exception to this. Before we all go our different ways for the break to enjoy our own “Christmases Around the World”, it was nice to enjoy one last classic St Andrews night.

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