• passing torch

    As part of a more recently created tradition, members of the Class of 1971 will “pass the torch” for the lighting of the bonfire to the Class of 2021.

    Homecoming Events to Bring Together Generations of Alumni and Students

    Friday, September 22, 2017
    News Type

As summer turns to fall in the Upper Valley, preparations are underway for the 2017 Dartmouth Night and Homecoming Weekend. This year’s event, which brings together alumni, family, and friends from around the globe, will take place October 6-7.

First held in 1895, Dartmouth Night was introduced by President William Jewett Tucker to give the College a day to invite alumni back to their alma mater and to celebrate their achievements. In 2017, the celebration continues. This year’s Dartmouth Alumni Award winners and Wearers of the Green will be recognized at events throughout the weekend.

The College will also host tours, an admissions workshop, athletic competitions, and two engaging lectures with members of Dartmouth’s distinguished faculty: President Emeritus James Wright ’64a; and Dean of the Thayer School of Engineering Joe Helble, who will be joined by a panel of faculty and alumni entrepreneurs.

Throughout the weekend join classmates for mini-reunions, and on Friday evening, join the whole Dartmouth community for a pre-parade celebration with seasonal food and drink at the DARToberfest tent.

Treasured Traditions

Students and alumni will have the chance to enjoy treasured traditions dating back to the 1800s, including the annual parade and bonfire.

Alumni of all ages are invited to march with their classmates in the parade through Hanover. This year’s parade will reverse its 2016 route. It will begin on Crosby Street and run west on Wheelock to Main Street, where it will turn north to circle the Dartmouth Green, ending at Rollins Chapel. The Hopkins Center plaza will be an excellent place to view the parade.

This year’s bonfire, constructed by the Class of 2021, will include additional fencing to help ensure the safety of everyone on the Green.

“We’re always excited to welcome home alumni and their families in celebration of this Dartmouth event,” says Martha J. Beattie ’76, vice president for alumni relations. “The bonfire is a tradition passed down through generations of students. Many people across campus work each year to carefully plan for this event so that it will remain at the core of our Dartmouth Night experience.”

As part of a more recently created tradition, members of the Class of 1971 will literally “pass the torch” for the lighting of the bonfire to the Class of 2021 to recognize the bond between the current undergraduate classes and the returning 50-year reunion classes.

For alumni who can’t make the trip to Hanover, the Dartmouth Alumni Facebook page will livestream the bonfire beginning at 8:30 p.m. Now anyone can feel the glow from afar.

See the full schedule for all our weekend events.

Fun Fire Facts

  • Bonfires at Dartmouth date back to 1888, when students built a fire to celebrate a baseball victory, and were continued for home athletic events. The first bonfire was criticized in an editorial in The Dartmouth because it "disturbed the slumber of a peaceful town."
  • In 1904, the Sixth Earl of Dartmouth visited campus for Dartmouth Night to lay the cornerstone for the rebuilt Dartmouth Hall, which had burned down the previous winter. Students built a bonfire to celebrate the visiting Earl, and formed a parade in their pajamas. The Earl led the parade around the fire, beginning the tradition of circling bonfires. 
  • Radio broadcasts were created for clubs that couldn't make it back to listen to the speeches. The clubs would send telegrams to Hanover to be read at the ceremony. 
  • Dartmouth Night was cancelled from 1969-1973 because of Vietnam War tensions. It was also canceled in 1954 and 1963 because of stormy weather.