Ceilidh and Barn Dance FAQs

If you've never booked a Ceilidh band before you will have lots of questions. But don't worry - you're in safe hands. We've managed ceilidh band booking for hundreds and hundreds of events over the years and we've experienced most things. We have put together a list of the most common questions we are asked about Ceilidhs and Barn Dances.
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If you question isn’t answered below or you just want to know more, send us a message and we’ll get right back to you!

What is a Ceilidh?
A ceilidh (or barn dance) is a fun, energetic social folk dance comprising English, Irish, Scottish and Celtic music, that is perfect for weddings, parties, fundraising and other special occasions. With a team of top musicians, you’ll have an event to really remember. You don’t need any prior experience – a caller is usually on hand to run you through all the moves before the dance starts and then continue to remind you what to do once the dance has started.
Is a Ceilidh the same as a Barn Dance?
When thinking of a barn dance, may people will think of checked shirts, hay bales and cowboy hats. It’s true that barn dance is generally more associated with American music and a Ceilidh (or ‘Ceili’) is more associated with Irish or Scottish music. Sometime you’ll see eCeilidh used for an event where the music is going to be more English focussed.

In reality, there’s not a huge difference in the format and the music often crosses multiple geographic boundaries and ‘Ceilidh’ / ‘Barn Dance’ are often used interchangeably.

Can you provide a ceilidh band for my wedding / club / event / festival?
Certainly! We book bands for all sorts of events including wedding, birthdays, house parties, festivals (and every other type of event) nationwide. Our experienced, professional musicians never fail to delight, and beforehand we will simplify the booking process for you by explaining the range of available options and how everything will work on the day, for maximum peace of mind!
Can I have a disco or DJ with my ceilidh?
Of course! And that often works particularly well at a wedding ceilidh. Amongst our members we have award winning DJs with years of experience and we are happy to quote for a disco bolt-on. This is always more cost effective than a separate DJ / PA and saves a lot of hassle and space too!
What is the typical format of a ceilidh?
Total dancing time is usually between 2 to 3 hours, commonly with a break for refreshments halfway through. However, we’ll chat through your requirements at the time of booking and cater the music and timings exactly to your event. The band will play tunes at the start of the evening to get your guests in the mood for dancing and their feet tapping!
What sort of music is played?
Lively and fun traditional music from the British Isles and beyond. It’s not unusual to hear music from Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales alongside traditional tunes from France, Spain, Scandinavia and America. Most bands can tailor the music towards your preferred direction whilst some others may be specialist in their particular field.

If you are looking for a particular type of band, you can browse our ceilidh bands by style

Do I need to know the dances in advance?

Of course not! The band will provide an expert caller who will run you through the moves before the dance starts. The caller will continue to remind you what to do once the dance has started so that you won’t be confused. If you want to know about the dances beforehand, we have a growing database of ceilidh dances including their descriptions and videos.

Will the band bring a PA system?
Yes, unless you specifically request an acoustic set- which wouldn’t be recommended for dancing – the ceilidh band will bring their own PA system to amplify the musicians and caller. It may be possible to arrange an early set-up, should you wish to use a microphone for speeches. All Ceilidh Network bands are covered by current public liability insurance and all equipment is PAT tested for electrical safety.
How do you Pronounce Ceilidh
‘Ceilidh’ or ‘Cèilidh’ or’Ceili’ or ‘Céilí.’ is pronouced kay-lee. We often see visitors arriving at the site using wild variations of the spelling such as kayleigh, kaylee, caylee and so on.

The Wikipedia page helps to explain where the term came from: “The term is derived from the Old Irish céle meaning “companion”. It later became céilidhe and céilidh, which means “visit” in Gaelic. In Scottish Gaelic reformed spelling it is spelled cèilidh  and in Irish reformed spelling as céilí.

You can hear the word pronounced by different accents on this ceilidh pronounciation page

Can I request specific dances
That’s usually no problem! We’ll tailor the dances to the event in terms of difficulty and regional variations but if you have a specific dance (or dances) you want included, just let us know in advance so we can make sure the caller includes this in their set for the evening.

Oft-requested dances include Strip The Willow or Drops of Brandy and The Dashing White Sergeant. You can browse a collection of Ceilidh Dances on the Ceilidh Network Country Dance Database

First Light Ceilidh Band

First Light Ceilidh Band

TTB Ceilidh Band

TTB Ceilidh Band

Passerida

Passerida

The Lonely Mister Punch

The Lonely Mister Punch

Brandon Village Ceilidh Project

Brandon Village Ceilidh Project

Rumpus

Rumpus

Melobo

Melobo

Rejigged Ceilidh Band

Rejigged Ceilidh Band

Freedom Fields Ceilidh Band

Freedom Fields Ceilidh Band

Top Ceilidh Band

Top Ceilidh Band

4 Feet First

4 Feet First

Hilltop Ceilidh Band

Hilltop Ceilidh Band

Bear’s Den Dance Band

Bear’s Den Dance Band

Cambridge Ceilidh Collective

Cambridge Ceilidh Collective

Frog on a Bike

Frog on a Bike

HOVR

HOVR

Erin Brown & Barry Watson (Little Oak)

Erin Brown & Barry Watson (Little Oak)

Stumpy Oak

Stumpy Oak

Róisín Bán

Róisín Bán

Silver Street Ceilidh Band

Silver Street Ceilidh Band

Bowreed

Bowreed

FN Ceilidh Band

FN Ceilidh Band

Celtic Ceilidh Collective

Celtic Ceilidh Collective

BB Ceilidh Band

BB Ceilidh Band