What are Ceilidh Bands?
Ceilidh bands (sometimes also misspelt as caleigh, kaylee or kayleigh band) perform the cheery melodies of Scottish and Irish (ceili) Gaelic folk music, guaranteed to make your feet tap and get everyone up dancing!
Consisting of small groups of musicians or large ensembles, they always feature a range of instruments, such as fiddles, accordions, pipes, guitar, piano, and drums, and can be amplified or acoustic.
Traditionally, they include a ‘caller’ to teach or remind your guests of the dance routines, calling out reminders as each song progresses, ensuring you keep up with each move for the various dances.
From slow waltzes to a stomping, fast-paced ‘strip the willow’, a ceilidh is the best fun you can have in an evening’s entertainment, as well as a fantastic workout!
Read more .... "What is a ceilidh band and what do they do?"
Also see our traditional Irish and folk bands here.
What music will they play?
They usually perform a range of jaunty, lively and uplifting traditional Scottish dance music, Irish ceili & traditional English folk music music, intermingled with slower waltzes (allowing you to catch your breath a bit!). They’re likely to play any of a range of traditional tunes, including:
- Boston Two-Step
- Broon’s Reel
- Canadian Barn Dance
- Circassian Circle
- Dashing White Sergeant
- Eightsome Reel
- Eva Three-Step
- Gay Gordons
- Haymakers Jig
- Highland Schottische
- Hullighan’s Jig
- Military Two-Step
- Polka Medley
- Pride of Erin Waltz
- Scottish Waltz
- Siege of Ennis
- St Bernard’s Waltz
- Strip the Willow
- Swedish Masquerade
- The Bluebell Polka
- The Flying Scotsman
- The Stack of Barley
- The Walls of Limerick
The repertoire for each of our bands is listed on their profile page.
Popular types of band
1. Scottish and Irish Bands
Formed of anything from 2 to 8 and more members, Scottish and Irish bands incorporate a variety of traditional instruments, usually acoustic. The music they play will range from slow waltzes to fast polkas and everything in-between. They often feature a ‘caller’ who will help get your guests through each dance with lots of gusto.
2. Ceilidh-Pop Crossover Bands (or Ceilidh–Traditional–Rock Crossover Bands)
Again, with any number of members and occasionally performing with a ‘caller’, there are several bands who perform crossover music – playing traditional Celtic ceilidh music and also offering a range of classic and contemporary rock and pop in a ceilidh style, giving your party a brilliant, fun twist. Rock and pop music covered will include tunes from artists such as Frank Sinatra, Van Morrison, The Beatles, and The Proclaimers. Many of these bands will also offer a range of other Celtic music, such as Whisky In The Jar, Flower o’ Scotland and Auld Lang Syne.
Where in the UK do Alive's bands perform?
Our artists perform for private events internationally and nation-wide, most frequently in:
Most popular counties:
Most popular cities:
Is a Ceilidh suitable for my event?
A ceilidh is usually the main evening entertainment at events, offering an engaging and fantastically fun night. They’re perfect for occasions such as:
If you’re planning a wedding, a live band can provide lively entertainment for the evening reception, and can start the party by performing for the bride and groom’s first dance, before all the guests take to the floor. Often bands can welcome or ‘pipe in’ the happy couple, to their wedding breakfast, if required too.
Ceilidhs are a common way to celebrate any occasion, and an excellent choice for a Hogmanay celebration, a private or corporate Burn’s supper or a Saint Patrick’s Day party where a big, lively event is called for.
At events where people are meeting each other for the first time, such as weddings and mixers, ceilidhs are fantastic ice breakers. They can include large or small groups of people and each dance is cyclical and very easy to pick up, so your guests can get into the swing and enjoy themselves within a few short bars.
If you want everyone on the dancefloor and to feel involved at your event, then a ceilidh – no matter how big or small – will really get you and your guests moving.
Space considerations at your event
The amount of space needed for your band will depend on the line-up you choose. It goes without saying that a ceilidh duo will need far less space than a 5-piece or an 8-piece band. If you’re limited for space at your venue, you can add or remove musicians from most bands in the Alive Network stable.
Of course, you will need plenty of room to swing your partner around on the dancefloor! A ceilidh can take place in a local village hall or a grand ballroom, depending on the number of guests who will be burling around, but it’s certainly wise to allow plenty of space for the dancing, fun and frivolities that a ceilidh will unleash!
For approximate requirements, see ‘How much space will a ceilidh band need?’, below.
Volume considerations - How loud are they?
The line-up of your chosen band, whether they play acoustically or with amplification, and the acoustics of your venue will impact the band’s volume at your event. A ceilidh – and the whooping of your guests! – can be loud and lively, somewhere in the region of 80–110 dB, so if you have your heart set on a ceilidh, do bear this in mind when you’re looking at venues. Some venues will be constrained by volume restrictions and sound limiters, so we recommend you ask your venue about their setup. For more information on sound limiters, visit our guide to sound limiters here
How much do they cost?
This table outlines the general prices of Alive Network's ceilidh bands:
|Type of Artist
||£300 - £1,065
||£666 - £1,330
||£540 - £1,920
|5-piece bands and larger
||£790 - £1,265
Adding or removing instrumentalists from your band will have implications on cost. You can reduce costs further by choosing a band who are based close to your chosen venue, since their travel costs will be minimised. The location of each band is shown on their profile pages, and your Entertainment Coordinator can help by recommending a range of fantastic ceilidh musicians near your venue. You don’t need to limit yourself to local bands, however – your perfect ceilidh wedding band may be willing to travel at minimal cost!
Who are the top 10 Ceilidh artists in the UK right now?
This list is made up of our most entertaining UK-based bands that we recommend, based on a mixture of their popularity, high performance quality and originality:
How long will they play for?
Ceilidh groups normally perform two 60-minute sets, with many offering three 40-minute sets, or the option to play for longer. Generally, two sets work best but the band can advise on what format keeps the atmosphere lively and the dancefloor full.
Some bands also offer the option to finish after midnight, if your event calls for it.
How much space will they need?
This table gives an approximate guide to how much performance space various format bands will need:
|Type of Band
||Average Performance Space Required
||3 × 2 metres
||3 × 3 metres
||4 × 3 metres
|5- and 6-piece band
||5 × 3 metres
|7-piece band and larger
||5/6 × 4 metres
These rough measurements will vary, depending on the number of musicians and the type of instruments in the band you select. Your Entertainment Coordinator can discuss the options with you further.
How long will it take for the band to set up?
Providing they can park close to your venue’s performance area, it can take around 60 – 90 minutes for a band to unload, set up and perform a vital sound check.
Following the ceilidh, the band usually takes around 30 – 60 minutes to pack away and load out.
What equipment will they need?
Wedding Ceilidh bands usually need the following:
- parking provision, with easy access to the venue
- refreshments – soft drinks and hot food, depending how long you’ve booked them for
- good lighting – particularly if they’re playing in a marquee
- a dedicated, suitably-sized, safe, dry, and flat performance area
- if they’ve agreed to perform outside, your musicians will need shelter from the sun, wind and rain!
- a sturdy, armless chair for each musician
- a minimum of four 13 amp power sockets, depending on the line-up and whether they’re fully amplified or acoustic
- a secure, lockable changing room
Most of Alive Network’s bands can provide their own microphones, and PA sound system or amplifiers.
If your event will have 200+ guests, you may need to hire a separate PA sound system. Your dedicated Entertainment Coordinator can discuss the requirements for your short-listed bands.
For a more comprehensive ceilidh band booking guide please read ‘Booking a ceilidh – Everything you’ll ever need to know’.
If you have any other queries, simply visit our FAQ page.
Alternatively, our dedicated expert entertainment coordinators are on-hand to help. Simply call 0845 108 5500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.