On Feb. 8, more than 1,000 students and alumni will experience the fourth annual Harvard Masquerade Ball. They’ll come wearing suits and ties, formal dresses and heels; their faces hidden behind colorfully decorated masks.

Since its inauguration, the ball has quickly become one of the most popular graduate School events of the year — growing from 500 attendees in 2010 to 1,000 in 2013. Despite its larger venues, tickets continue to sell out rapidly and the waiting list grows. This year, the event will be held at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse in Boston, a waterfront venue with 88-foot glass walls and views of the Boston downtown. As in the past, the night will be filled with champagne, chocolate fountains, dancing, student entertainers, live opera, jazz, and rock music performances.

Sponsored by the Harvard Graduate Council (HGC), the official government of the 13 graduate and professional Schools, the Masquerade Ball was born as an effort to bring students together from across the University. Philip Harding, president of HGC and a Harvard Kennedy School student, came up with the idea after hearing President Drew Faust speak about the need to have One Harvard, rather than disparate Schools.

“The idea is to bring together students from all the graduate Schools for one amazing night,” Harding explains. “We want it to be beautiful, to be glamorous, but more than that, the whole reason behind it is to bring Harvard together. It’s the idea of One Harvard.”

The Masquerade Ball is run as a tight operation with a core team of about 60 students who plan and execute the event. Last year, the ball was held at the Harvard Club with tickets selling out in 20 minutes. (Tickets are divided proportionally among Schools to ensure that all are represented.) This year the same is expected, although details of ticket sales have yet to be disclosed.

— Elizabeth Anderson