A newbie’s guide to TBall

Abby Cleaver details the dos and don’ts in the run up to the long-awaited Trinity Ball

What is Trinity Ball?

Trinity Ball is the college’s very own mini-music festival, frequently remarked as Europe’s biggest private festival, with tickets available only to Trinity students, staff, alumni, and their fortunate plus-ones. Due to limited capacity and being the first Trinity Ball in two years due to COVID-19, tickets sold out in just about an hour. It is being held on the 22 April on Trinity’s campus; with the theme being Celtic Revival, attendees are promised an inspired art display, as well as an interesting lineup, with more than half the acts being emerging Irish artists and bands.

The basics: what to bring

On the morning of the 22 April everyone will be able to collect their tickets from Goldsmith Hall. You will need to bring your reference number that you should have received in an email when buying your tickets, and student ID or proof of student status (for example, an email that confirms you are/were a registered Trinity student), and you will then be given your physical tickets to be brought with you that night. If you are unable to make it to collect your tickets yourself, email [email protected] shortly beforehand to authorise someone else to collect your tickets on your behalf. Going to Trinity Ball itself, you will need to bring your physical ticket and photo ID (should you be asked to confirm that you are over-18). Remember that doors close strictly at 10.30pm, so make sure to be there on time. Drink is not allowed to be brought inside, and as people who have previously attended Trinity Ball will tell you, there are thorough searches performed on entry.

Decoding the dress code

The dress code for the ball, as always, is formal. We should expect to find a sea of tuxedos and cocktail dresses swarming campus this April, as flamboyant and creative or simple and elegant as you choose to lean towards. A common piece of advice I have been given for those wearing dresses is to opt for cocktail dresses over full-length evening dresses, considering it is more of a festival scene than a hotel reception ball… and that if you are brave enough to wear heels, definitely bring a second comfy option to change into. To share a nightmarish tip from a past attendee, make sure that whatever you choose to wear you will not regret wearing when you have to face a portaloo trip!

Food and drink

Food trucks will be located in front of the dining hall, selling an array of different food at market going rates, AKA potentially pricey, so it might be a good idea to eat well beforehand to avoid being stuck! A bar will be available, currently planned to be located in front of the 1937 Reading Room. Following the environmentally friendly trend being seen in festivals across Europe, drinks at Trinity Ball will be served in reusable cups, with everyone paying a small deposit of approximately 2-€3 at the start of the night. Should you lose your cup you will unfortunately have to pay for a new one, but the hope is that this will be something that attendees will take onboard quickly, especially as this is a switch we will be seeing the majority of festivals making in the near-future in a step-away from single-use plastics. Don’t worry – you will be able to switch your cup for a clean one, with the requirement that you hold onto your own cup to swap around for one, so changing drinks will not be an issue. At the end of the night you will be able to hand your cup in and get your deposit back, so make sure to hold onto it! Free water dispensers will be available around campus also. 

Staying safe

In the run up to Trinity Ball there will be a drug safety campaign in partnership with the HSE to help spread awareness about the dangers of drug misuse; not to encourage the taking of drugs, but instead an attempt to minimise harm and spread useful information in the interest of safety for those who choose to. Two respite spaces will be up all night, with their locations to soon be confirmed as the Trinity Ball map is finalised. Run by the St. John’s Ambulance Service, these will be great spaces to take a breather from the crowds and noise, sit down and have a glass of water, or to be looked after by professionals if needed. As well as the respite spaces, if you need a breather, there will be a beautiful art exhibition up in front square. Ambulance crews will be available in respite spaces for more serious professional help as needed.

Theme and inspired artwork

The theme of this year’s Trinity Ball is Celtic Revival, inspired by the strong return of a vibrant music scene in Ireland. The projectors outside the front gates, and ones found inside, will be projecting Celtic-related imagery and colourful visuals at the entrance of the ball. Speaking to Greg Arrowsmith on the artwork being submitted for display, he is delighted to report that the pieces they have received this year have been “incredible”; the artists having completely embraced and interpreted the theme in their own way, yielding amazing results and making the selection very difficult. The chosen artwork along with short descriptions attached to each are to be displayed in Front Square, available to be visited and admired all night. The successfully chosen artists are to earn (well-deserved) free tickets to the ball. The display will be up all night so make sure to stop by – this year’s art is not something to miss! 

Line-up and acts

After speaking to Arrowsmith about this year’s Celtic Revival theme, the pattern found in the line-up was a key inspiration point, showcasing a range of newly emerging or expanding Irish artists who have worked hard building up and releasing vast amounts of music over lockdown. American performer Tinie Tempah may be headlining, but the lineup is full to the brim of Irish acts to look out for, from the Irish independent electronic duo 49th & Main to our very own Luke O’Neill’s band, Metabolix. Artists such as Malaki and CMAT on the line-up serve to perfectly embody a changing music landscape in Ireland, having released the bulk of their work over the lockdowns, and rapidly expanding to wider audiences still as we get back closer to in-person normality. Just over half of this year’s official line-up are Irish bands or performers, with a promising hope to potentially accommodate a couple more Trinity acts in the in-the-works idea of a Trinity Tent. Should it work out, the tent would host acts such as the Trinitones for one half of the night before handing the space off to DUDJ in the second half, with, if possible, perhaps one or two Trinity-based acts given slots in between.

Additionally, this year’s Preball gave selected Trinity bands an amazing exposure opportunity in Whelan’s main room. Traditionally, with one slot on the main stage up for grabs, a Battle of the Bands type event is held to decide which Trinity Band gets the place. This year however, in order to avoid encouraging competition in a community that thrives on supporting each other, submissions of clips of the bands performing were accepted with a select few picked to play at Preball. Preball took place on Tuesday, April 5th, with tickets priced at €7. Showcasing talent right at our doorstep, these Trinity acts included Fizzy Orange, Gemma Cox, and Glass Gallery. The inclusion of these artists in Preball is a complete welcoming of the Celtic Revival theme, incorporating the growing scene of emerging musical talent in Dublin that we can find right here at Trinity.


Jedward, it’s in your hands! With the petition for Jedward to play at TBall rising in numbers, I had to ask Greg to comment on the possibility of a Jedward appearance this year. He is all for Jedward to make an appearance, and is completely open to giving the pair free tickets, or even a slot in the Trinity Tent should they want it. Unfortunately, the real question must turn towards the budget. In keeping the ticket prices the same as previous years, even with rising costs in putting on such an event post-lockdown, the budget is not there to pay for such an appearance. However, should they be interested in coming along for fun, the committee is completely up for accommodating them! So, Jedward fan base at Trinity, you shouldn’t give up on the possibility of JBall just yet…

First time T-Ballers’ tips and tricks

General tips and advice from our Ents Officer and previous attendees:

  • Try not to go too hard on pre-drinks! It is a long night so starting too strongly might not be the best idea for making the most of TBall. Pacing yourself will be key for this type of event, should you want to last the night mostly on your feet.
  • Trying to get a good meal in beforehand will help with this as aswell. Remember to stay hydrated – there will be free water stations around campus for this.
  • Dress in formal wear, but try to be comfortable too! Heel-wearers, bring a spare pair of shoes. Remember that Trinity Ball is outside, bring a jacket to not be left in the cold.
  • Do not be late to the gates, doors close at 10.30pm this year!
  • Finally, and very importantly, make sure you plan ahead for your trip home. Consider pre-booking a taxi, or booking a hostel/hotel room. Getting a taxi at 3am is hard enough on a regular night, and there will be a lot of people trying to get home at the same time, so avoid getting stuck with no way home!

You can email [email protected] for any queries you may have about the event/ticket collection.

Abby Cleaver

Abby Cleaver is the current life editor at Trinity News, having previously served as comment editor, and is a final year English literature and philosophy student.