College parties have been a thing since Plato and his pals tipped back their wineskins at the Academy in Athens. But at some point in the 20th century, college parties took on epic qualities that even Homer couldn't have cooked up. Nowadays, a $20,000 budget for a soiree on a state school campus doesn't seem unreasonable, and hosts continually try to out-party one another.
We thank the ingenuity of 20-somethings, Greek-lifers, and centuries of manboys for paving the way for these, the best college parties in the nation.
Nashville Absinthe Cocktails & the Hottest Chicken (Literally)
University of Wisconsin Madison Honestly, trying to pick one UW Madison party feels like a crime against the wildest midwesterners in collegedom. While the Mifflin Street Block Party holds the badass award for being turned from a Vietnam War protest into a 20,000-strong social hour, no Halloween party inspires adoration like Madison's Halloween party. We're talking upwards of 100,000 bodies clogging State Street for seven hours -- unheard of unless you're a warring nation. But no, there's no war, just guys dressed as the Breaking Bad dudes, and girls dressed as, I dunno, the same Breaking Bad dudes... but with Walt and Jesse in way skimpier jumpsuits.
University of Arizona The Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at Arizona takes the prize for most ambitious preparation. Keep in mind, this isn’t a university-organized event. Meaning, a bunch of college guys had the gumption to build what’s basically an outdoor club modeled after the Amazon. It takes weeks to prepare. We’re talking a massive tree house, a waterfall (the entrance for female attendees) leading to a swim-up bar, and a sprawling stage for DJs and live acts. This is the best possible example of overdoing it done right.
Ohio University Ohio U is already one of the top party schools in the country, and Palmerfest is widely considered the school’s best party. A block party on Palmer Street, this bash came into existence as students’ retaliation to the university canceling an event called Spring Fest in the ‘90s. Nothing sparks a healthy riot like a party created in the name of rebellion — especially since this one spawned offshoots on three nearby streets. Plus, there are horses — ridden by police sent in to break up unlawfulness and occasional arson.
Cornell University The Ivy League alma mater of The Office's high-birthed and nautically themed Andy Bernard annually gets shout-outs for Slope Day. And unlike the more riotous college parties, this one's condoned by the university, citing its roots as a school-wide fundraiser for Cornell's fancier athletic programs (namely, a Navy Ball for the rowing team). What that means if you don't give a sh*t about history: Big-ticket live bands, catered food and, of course, plenty of booze. In 2014, Ludacris and Matt and Kim performed here. Don't test Ivy Leaguers when it comes to shelling out serious dough for a seriously good time.
Penn State The one Penn State guy I know told me the first and only time he sh*t himself in his sleep was after State Patty's Day. So there's that.
This party is so crazy, the college decided to pay area bars not to sell alcohol... which resulted in arrests going down by 37 percent. Things originally started as an alternative to St. Patrick's day, as the traditional holiday fell during Spring Break, thus student's wouldn't have been able to celebrate together. And while it might look like absolute bedlam from a news chopper, it's really thousands of college kids, local and visiting, getting together for a night of beautiful, reckless tradition.
Indiana University Like the Tour De France and the Olympics, this is a big deal for its participants — in this case, cyclists from Greek organizations. But for everyone else, it’s an excuse to drink for the better part of a week, in all thematic manners. But the basics remain the same — a lot of beer, a lot of well-grade vodka, and a lot of difficult-to-navigate spandex.
University of Texas Austin It's overseen by UT fraternities, meaning there's a fleet of guys who weren't going to class anyway putting this one together. Think southern-style cooking (crawfish boils!), tons of music (past years' performances include Waka Flocka Flame and Juvenile — it's in the Texas entertainment capital of Austin, after all) and thousands upon thousands of coeds wearing neon. This is one of those parties where people regularly shout "Everything's bigger in Texas!" whenever there's a camera trained on them.
University of Georgia and University of Florida A massive party on the beach, driven by Greek life, loved and often rued by all, given its roots as a massive rivalry tailgating experience. We’ve learned Georgia and Florida aren’t working in tandem on this, so hang among your school colors and please don’t cheer for the Bulldogs amongst a bunch of Gators and vice versa. Even though it’s all in the name of college football, exactly how many revelers actually make it from the beach to the game for which they’re preparing is unknown.
University of Michigan Born from cannabis activism, the Hash Bash crowd, ascending on the greenery at the center of U Michigan’s campus, might look like trouble in the making... until you observe the docile eyes, the easy dispositions, and the canvas totes of its revelers. Fueled by another vice, this would be the making of car fires. But here, in Ann Arbor, the results are live music, comedy, poetry, guest speakers and vending, kicking off right at (sorry) high noon on a Saturday. If you’re looking to wild out aggressively, look elsewhere.
Tulane University Sure, they were given an easy base of operations — holding Mardi Gras celebrations during the actual Mardi Gras. Now imagine 13,000 college kids, and probably four or five visiting friends per student, all marauding around the French Quarter to celebrate the same thing: Ash Wednesday Eve. Nah just kidding, they’re drinking in the streets and trying to score beads.
The United States of America Any campus with a FIJI (Phi Gamma Delta) chapter also has the FIJI Islander party. Some just include leis and jungle juice, their ingredients and recipes as varied as the universities who host them. Some others, like the party monsters at UW Madison, include tens of thousands of pounds of sand to fill the basement and front yard, then build and install waterfalls, and find corporate sponsorships. If you go to college, go to this party. If you go to a top 10 party school, GO TO THIS PARTY.