Stretching back over 150 years, the prestigious May Ball events are deeply engrained in the history of the world-renowned University of Cambridge. We were once again chosen to provide full technical production for St John’s College May Ball. We were tasked by the Ball Committee to bring their exciting vision to life, providing all lighting, sound, projection mapping, power, staging and rigging to the 5.5-hectare site


With the theme for this year’s celebration being ‘Tempus Fugit’, a Latin phrase meaning time flies, the stunning College courts were decked out to represent various eras through time. From the LED colour washed cloisters in the 60s flower power themed New Court to the Great Gatsby 1920s Second Court with it’s warm tungsten floods, we ensured guests were transported through the ages using complimentary lighting designs in each area.   

In a break from convention, this year we delivered stunning projection mapped content on to the side of St John’s Chapel rather than the tower, leaving guests in First Court captivated. All content was produced in-house by Hawthorn’s experts and began with a Victorian Botanical Gardens themed countdown sequence of the building growing and ageing into an overgrown greenhouse covered in blooming flowers and dandelions. The main show featuring spectacular 3D architecture manipulation, with the lighting throughout the court programmed to match the projected content, creating an astounding guest experience. 

Following the famous firework display, an epic laser show captured the futuristic theme of The Backs, which was uplit with sequence programmed LED lighting, giving guests a sci-fi style surprise that no one expected.

Entertainment for the Balls is always muchly anticipated, with Jigsaw and Blonde headlining this year’s festivities. With top entertainment on offer, we created a spectacular lighting design for the main stage, creating the perfect party atmosphere. 


“Can I take this opportunity to say what a pleasure it was working with Hawthorn this year. I honestly don't see how the ball would happen if you weren't an integral part of it, so thank you for everything you have done”

Joe Sharpe, St John’s May Ball Committee - Head of Logistics