So you want to hire a ceilidh band. You’re ready. You’ve made up your mind. This is what your event needs.

Great! Obviously, we love ceilidh bands here. We love ceilidh events. But hiring a ceilidh band is not a one-size fits all situation. Maybe your ceilidh band doesn’t fit your event. Maybe your event doesn’t fit your ceilidh band – literally. There are lots of things to take in to consideration. We’ll lay it all out here.

First, let’s think about what kind of band you want. A Ceilidh band could mean a few different things. Choosing the right kind of band depends on a few things.

Are your guests going to dance? While we might think of a ceilidh as a dancing event, and that’s certainly how the term is colloquially understood, it’s not your only option. If you think your guests might prefer to watch and listen, to clap and stomp along, instead of participating, they might enjoy a Scottish dance show. This is a particularly good option if your guests are less than familiar with Scottish traditions.

This performance could be somewhat traditional, with a three-or-four piece ceilidh band, some professional Ceilidh dancers, and a Ceilidh Caller to explain to the guests what is happening. It could incorporate traditional Highland Dancers, either solo or in a group. Or it could be more of a show. Our band Tartanium are a 10-piece rock/pop/ceilidh fusion group featuring Bagpipes, also with the option for the Tartanium dancers.

Check out Tartanium and our Scottish Dancers:

If your guests will dance, consider whether they would prefer to dance to traditional or more contemporary music.

A Traditional Ceilidh Band is usually led by the accordion or fiddle with snare and high hat drums, and with either second accordion or keyboards to make up a 3 or 4 piece band. It looks a little something like this:

A Rocking ceilidh band, like our Reel Time Ceilidh Band or Scraggly Cats. Many modern bands who are putting a contemporary twist on the Scottish tradition of ceilidh dancing, mixing bagpipes, electric guitar and drums, along with modern synthesis of pop and rock anthems. This is fun for the younger, hip or uninitiated crowd. 

This is our rocking Reel Time Ceilidh Band:

As well as the size and volume of the band, you should think about the kind of music you want. Meaning, do you want a really energetic, fervent, wild time? If so, people will be dancing faster, moving around more. So you should make sure your guests are comfortable with a more physical event. If they aren’t, discuss keeping things relatively calm with the band. Dancing can be fun at any speed.

There are also some practical considerations to factor in when choosing your band. 

Do you have enough space? Is the stage big enough for the size of band that you want? Musicians can be pretty nimble, but drum kits and keyboards take up a lot of space. Ideally, you want a minimum stage space of about 5 metres by 5 metres. More, if you have a big band.

Your band almost definitely need a power supply. If you’ve chosen an events venue, you should be fine. If you’re having your ceilidh in a forest, you’ll need to come up with a plan for where the guitar amp plugs in.

Our bands like to be able to set up at least an hour before the event, so you should take that into consideraion. If you have other activities planned for your guests, see what you can do to allow them to continue uninterruped while the band set up. This may require your activities to take place in another location, like another nearby room.

When you’re happy you’ve got the right band for your guests and the right space for them to play in, it’s time to think about your guests.

There are a number of important things to take into account when planning your event to ensure they have the best ceilidh possible.

Guest concern number one: clothing and footwear.

It might be worth dropping a note to your guests before the event with some advice on dress code. Some things are obvious; if you’re dancing, you probably don’t want to be wearing a ball gown that trails on the floor. Your partner, or someone else, will inevitably step on it. Then you’ll fall. You’ll take someone with you. Dominos – everyone in a pile on the floor. 

If you’re dancing, and I mean really dancing, then you’re going to be warm. Make sure not to wear clothes that are too warm. A heavy wool suit could be an issue after a few dances in a warm, crowded room. You want to be comfortable to have the most fun. But you’re almost certainly going to be warm at some point. If you’re struggling with the heat, sit out a dance. Maybe dance every other dance. Get some air. Drink a cool drink.

And, finally, make sure your guests know what footwear NOT to bring. Ladies probably don’t want to be in eight-inch stilettos. Obviously, it can impact the wearer’s balance when spinning. But we should be just as concerned about the innocent bystanders and their poor toes.

Gents should avoid slidey, slippery loafers. Old, worn dress shoes will not do. Grip is important for balance, so the dancer doesn’t harm himself, but also so that the bigger lads don’t land on someone else’s wee mum.

Guest concern number 2: ability.

If your guests haven’t ceilidh danced before, or might have trouble for any reason, you should make sure your event has a Ceilidh Caller. All of our bands feature a Ceilidh Caller. This is the person who explains how to do the dances beforehand, often announcing a demonstration, and who keep the dancers on track while the music is playing by calling out instructions. Changes in direction, partners, reminders to stomp, spin, and hold hands. If your dancers aren’t confident, a Ceilidh Caller is essential.

Guest concern number 3: the venue.

It’s worth thinking about how much space is necessary for the amount of guests at your event. It’s difficult to dictate a measurement here, but try imagining everyone was to stick out their arms and spin around – would they hit each other? Try to find a venue with roughly that amount of space for each of your guests.

Also check out the floors, you don’t want your guests to slip and fall, so make sure the dance floor is suitable.

So those are a few things to think about. If you need more help planning your event or you want to hire a ceilidh band, get in touch with us.

If hiring a ceilidh band is only part of your event needs and you need more help, contact Reel Time Events.