A ceilidh (pronounced 'kaylee') is a
traditional Gaelic gathering, involving music and dancing. It
promises lots of fun for the whole family, getting everyone up on
their feet regardless of how little rhythm they have!
- Book a local caller at least three months before your planned
date. Prices start at around £300 for a caller playing recorded
music, or live ceilidh bands charge an average of £435*. Suppliers
will need their own public liability insurance, and any electrical
equipment should be PAT tested.
- Book a venue. You will need enough floor space for people to
dance without feeling cramped (based on everyone standing with
their arms outstretched). The capacity of your venue may limit the
number of tickets you can sell, so factor this into your
- Consider what food and refreshments you will offer. Have an
interval on the night, allowing food to be served and giving people
a chance to mingle, before they get back up again for a boogie.
Baked potatoes, ploughman's or chilli are good options.
- Run a raffle, selling tickets on the door as people arrive.
Draw and announce the winners at the end of the interval. If you
don't have the time or resources to source prize donations, boost
profits by running a 100-square grid.
- Check which licences you need. Read our online licensing guidance or
verify requirements with your local authority. As a rule of thumb,
if featuring live or recorded music (where copyright applies), you
should obtain PPL and PRS for Music licences (your school should
already have these). If you're serving alcohol you will need a TEN,
unless your venue holds a premises licence. Since the Live Music
Bill came into effect in October 2012, a TEN is no longer required
for 'regulated entertainment' for amplified live or recorded music
an audience of 500.
- At least four weeks before the event, publicise with posters.
PTA Print Shop offers 10 x A3 posters for £9.95
(excl. p&p). Allow people to buy family tickets, as well as
Tips and advice for running a ceilidh event
- Reviews: Check reviews of local callers in order to gauge how
good they are or seek recommendations.
- Children: Make it a family event and encourage adults to bring
along their children, after all, they're usually first on the dance
- Tickets: Assess your costs (venue, band/caller, catering and
licences) versus the capacity of your chosen venue. Agree the
ticket price. Running a bar and offering food will allow you to
increase your ticket price, but if you want to keep things simple,
ask people to bring their own drinks and snacks.
- Interval: Have a half-time break, giving dancers a chance to
catch their breath, chat to friends and re-fuel.
- Variations: A ceilidh, barn dance and hoedown are similar, with
people dancing together either in couples or small groups. Some
dances involve individuals moving on to new partners as the dance
progresses, making this a great event for making new
friends! A ceilidh is associated with Scottish or Irish
(ceili) music, while a barn dance is based on English dancing.
Traditionally, a ceilidh would have other entertainment, such as
singing, interspersed with the dancing. A hoedown often has an
American feel, with checked shirts, cowboy hats and country-style
print-friendly PDF version of our step-by-step guide to running a
Ceilidh success story:
Nicky Waller, chair of Lower Park School PTA in Poynton,
Cheshire, said: 'We decided to hold a ceilidh to raise
funds, but also to provide families the opportunity to make new
friends at a price that was affordable. So tickets were offered at
£5 per family (2 adults and up to 3 children) or separately at £2
per adult and £1 per child for single parents. To establish
timings, we worked back from the time we thought the Key Stage 2
children/parents would want to finish up and then split the night
into sections - doors opened at 5.15pm, food at 6pm, round one of
dancing, a break to get drinks/snacks then round two of dancing,
finishing at 8pm. We wanted to offer a quality, good-value meal to
encourage families to have a night out together. We offered baked
potatoes with fillings (butter, cheese, baked beans or chilli),
pasta and tomato sauce and hot dogs. We set up a tuck shop (away
from the bar!), serving soft drinks, crisps and chocolate bars.
Year 6 children ran the tuck shop with a PTA supervisor. The night
was an amazing success, with many families staying longer than
intended. We raised £300 and have already run a successful barn
dance with the same format.'
The above is intended as guidance only. We
recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific
reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child
protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held
responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on
the guidance provided.
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