What Is Ceilidh?


Originally the word Ceilidh (kay-lee) descended from the Gaelic word for ‘gathering’ or ‘party’… However, these days when people think of a Ceilidh, they think of a fun filled night of wild dancing, good music and great company!

As for the rest: they all mean pretty much the same thing!

The beauty of a ceilidh or Barn Dance is that everyone can take part, young or old, experienced dancers to beginners and even those with two left feet!

Not all of your guests will be interested in the music played at a Disco and many people can often be nervous on the dance floor – but with a Ceilidh you’re walked through the steps so there’s nothing to be worried about! …and with Licence to Ceilidh’s unique combination of traditional tunes meet modern funky rhythm section, musically there’s something for everyone!

No experience is necessary! You and you’re guests will be under the watchful eye of the professional caller who’ll be with you every step of the way – walking you through the moves before each dance and continuing to call out helpful hints through out the rest of the dances (with Licence to Ceilidh our Callers come as standard when you book the band and with years of experience calling for us).

Having a Ceilidh is the perfect Icebreaker! Whatever the occasion, from team-building days, to Weddings and Birthdays, Corporate Functions or Student Nights!The emphasis is on having fun and being sociable!



This is our speciality and what we get the most call for…

Our caller usually starts with the classic Gay Gordons and makes sure as many guests who are capable of standing get involved! After this initial icebreaker, it’s often difficult to get even the most reluctant punters to sit down again!

The next is the Dashing White Sergeant – a favourite with the gentlemen as it calls for having one lady on each arm!

Later in the night we’ll be sure to do the famous Orcadian Strip the Willow! Everyone’s favourite – a raucous affair with lines of people stretching all the way down the room…

Those with a bit more experience often like to request the Eightsome Reel. This is the most complicated dance we offer, but a favourite with the Scots!

Then we round off the night with a good old fashioned Auld Lang Syne!

Other dances in our usual Scottish set-list include:

– Virginia Reel
– Military Two-Step
– Cumberland Reel
– Flying Scotsman
– Canadian Barndance
– Cumberland Square 8 (the one with the baskets)
– Circassian Circle
– St. Bernard’s Waltz

Please ask to see our sample dance list for a larger range of Scottish dances – if you can’t see your favourite dance, why not request it?

For a Scottish night our dress code is ladies in our famous tartan dresses and gents in modern style subtle tartan trews!



Licence to Ceilidh also perform for lots of Irish events!

For an Irish style Ceili we would include a few well known Irish dances like The Bridge of Athlone, The Seige of Ennis or Waves of Tory, mixed in with some general favourites and fun dances that are popular across all traditions.

We’ll also tailor the music we play for the dances to an Irish repertoire, including lots of well known Irish tunes to suit the feel of the evening… Creating a night of entertainment with strong Irish links, that’s still inclusive for all and suitable for any beginners!

We even tailor our uniform so the ladies wear our green style dresses with sashes and gents wear smart black suits with green ties instead of tartan trousers!

If you’d like to add that extra Irish touch we recommend adding an Irish Flute/Whistle player to the line-up and/or a Bodhran player (see our Larger Line-ups page for more info and ideas)

We’ve done repeat bookings for Irish nights for Co-operation Ireland, Vinopolis and more…

“Hi Ali, Just wanted to say a big thanks for the part you and the band played in our day on Thursday – we had a wonderful time and you were all brilliant. Will definitely recommend you to anyone that needs a ceilidh band in the future. Best wishes,”

Neil & Tris: Wedding: March 2016: London



Licence to Ceilidh also have a lot of experience doing English ceilidhs, for this we would tailor our set-list to the most English or general fun dances we do like the Cumberland Square Eight and the Circassian Circle.

Photos: Top Box: 1, 3, 4, Philippe Barnes. In Text: All Touch Photography

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