From student theater on College Walk to late night breakfast in Barnard Hall, Columbia has a number of annual traditions that you won't want to miss.
Homecoming, Oct. 25 at 1:30 p.m.
Though Columbians don’t have a reputation for being die-hard athletics fans, Homecoming is the one game each year when students are most likely to cheer on the Light Blue. This year, the Lions will face off against Dartmouth, and students will start their day early with pregames on campus before heading to Baker Field for tailgating and the big game.
Alfred Joyce Kilmer Memorial Bad Poetry Contest
This event is held every fall by the Philolexian Society. Contestants show up in 501 Havemeyer to face off and see who can write the worst poem. Dishonorable mentions from last year include a tribute to Trader Joe’s called “Quinoazymandias” and “In Memory of Jean Grey (Again).”
Annual Tree Lighting and Yule Log Ceremony
Columbia celebrates the holiday season by lighting up the trees that line College Walk. Students, faculty, and administrators gather on Low Plaza in December for a tree lighting ceremony, complete with hot chocolate, cider, and other treats. Students then head into John Jay for the Yule Log Ceremony.
XMAS! is a student-created musical about the holiday season that takes place the last week of classes of the fall semester. It features an original score and lyrics, as well as music from student musicians. Last year’s installment featured Santa Claus running a sweatshop and fighting against an elf rebellion, and two years ago the show followed a girl trying to deliver gifts before the apocalypse.
Orgo Night, Dec. 11 and May 7
Not without its critics, Orgo Night takes place at 11:59 p.m. on the first day of exams each semester (which used to be the day of the organic chemistry final) in Butler 209. Members of the Columbia University Marching Band enter playing “Roar, Lion, Roar” and tell jokes about campus happenings, interspersed with songs like CeeLo Green’s “Fuck You” and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from “Mulan.” If you go, arrive early, since space is usually tight.
Midnight Breakfast, Dec. 11 and May 7
Barnard administrators serve up breakfast treats to stressed-out students in LeFrak Gymnasium on the last night before finals each semester. Students can head over after Orgo Night for free food, pop music, and some fun before the onslaught of exams.
Athena Film Festival, Feb. 5-8, 2015
Not every campus can say that it houses a film festival every winter, but thanks to Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies, lecture halls become movie theaters, which have screened Academy Award nominees and winners like “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and last year’s “Frozen.”
KCST spring show
It’s doubtful you’ll feel more Ivy League than when you’re watching King’s Crown Shakespeare Troupe’s spring show. Performed outdoors all over campus, the production regularly features a massive cast (everyone who auditions gets at least a small role) and great acting by your peers—all illuminated by little more than lamplight. Last year’s production of “The Tempest” capitalized on the campus’ symmetry by dividing the play’s two plotlines, with the two progressing along opposite sides of campus and meeting up occasionally. Past productions have included “Cymbeline” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Bacchanal + Holi
These two events serve as the cornerstone of spring semester. On the morning of Bacchanal—typically the second Saturday in April—the Hindu Students Organization holds a large celebration of Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, on Ancel Plaza. Several hundred pounds of paint powder will make their way into your hair and onto your clothes. Later in the day, you’ll gather with a few thousand of your closest friends to watch an act you probably complained about. But Bacchanal is still a ton of fun—if we’re lucky, it falls on one of the year’s first warm spring days.
Like XMAS!, the Varsity Show is entirely student-directed, -produced, -written, and -scored, among other things, and is one of the biggest theater events of the spring semester. The show’s focus is on campus issues and characters, and it typically lampoons the news and events of the past year. Last year’s show, “Morningside Nights,” focused on the havoc wreaked by University President Lee Bollinger’s fictional nephew and the efforts led by one girl to bring the campus together and fight the curfew he imposes—all with the hope of getting to write a Senior Wisdom piece for Bwog.