Advice

HOW TO RUN A GREAT CEILIDH

Ceilidhs and barn dances are great social occasions for all ages. They can also be successful fund-raisers if that’s what you need. Over the years, we’ve played for weddings, college annual events, significant birthdays, village hall socials, sports clubs, yacht clubs, golf clubs, research and medical organisations, festivals, church events, harvest festivals, street parties, and all kinds of other events. Below is some advice based on our long experience.

Make sure you book us as early as possible – we have bookings up to a year in advance, but six months should be fine, and we may have spare dates or cancellations at short notice, so it’s always worth trying. We can suggest other bands too.

Photographs by Ed Thompson

Photographs by Ed Thompson

Think about the space. Village halls, school halls, church halls and community centres all make good venues. Barns are full of character but can be chilly unless it’s summer. Marquees can also work well, weather permitting. Whatever the venue, you need room for the band, for your guests to dance – imagine them in a circle, for example – and for them to sit, eat, drink and relax.

If you want to raise money it’s a good idea to organise the bar and food yourself -or you’ll be giving away your profit to a third party! Budget for the cost of the band (and food) on ticket sales – then profits can come from the bar, raffles, tombolas and so on. Sell tickets at the door or during the first half – be ruthless!

Make sure your date doesn’t clash with other local events so your ticket sales don’t suffer.

It’s a good idea to buy wine and beer on sale-or-return from a supermarket or off-licence, and you may be able to borrow glasses too. Organise a rota for people to run the bar. You can make a good profit if you charge pub prices. If you want to make it easier, you can always book a local pub to run an outside bar.

Don’t put the bar out of sight of the dancing: it separates drinkers from the main event, and can make it difficult to get people joining in. Locating the bar at the back of the hall works well.

Organise an hour’s break halfway through the ceilidh. You can have the meal, the raffle, any speeches, and so on, and still get a good stretch of dancing before and after. Around 9.30 is good for a ceilidh running from 8 to midnight.

Photographs by Ed Thompson

Photographs by Ed Thompson

WEDDINGS!
Are a different kind of occasion! Some points to think about:
You’ll need the band later in the day, often after the meal and speeches. Speeches always overrun, so don’t book the band too early.

We may be setting up and sound-checking while other parts of your big day are still in full swing. Plan for how this will work.

The bride and groom often start the ceilidh with their own dance, often a waltz. We can help plan for this, even learn a tune if your choice, if you give us plenty of notice.

Although you’ve had the big meal earlier, you’ll probably need a buffet halfway through the evening. This is good for us too!

Many weddings move from a ceilidh to a disco later in the evening. This is fine with us and can make a good, varied evening. We can easily take down our PA while the DJ gets going.

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