Run a ceilidh
A traditional Gaelic gathering, involving music and
dancing, promises lots of fun for the whole family. Plus, it gets
everyone up on their feet regardless of how little rhythm they may
- Book a local caller at least three months before your planned
date. Prices start at around £300 for a caller playing recorded
music, or an average of £435* for a live ceilidh band. They
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 - baked
potatoes, ploughman's or chilli are good options - and have an
interval for food to be served and to give people a
chance to mingle before they get back up again for a boogie.
- 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 raffle prizes, boost
profits by running a quick game. Need ideas? Read our online
feature on interval games.
- Check which licences you need. Read our licensing guidance online or verify
requirements with your local authority. As a rule of thumb, if
you're featuring live or recorded music (where copyright applies),
you should obtain a PRS for Music licence (your venue may already
have this). You may also need a PPL licence. If 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 as long as the music is unamplified and the
audience does not exceed 200 people.
- At least four weeks before the event, publicise with posters.
Charity Print Shop offers 10 x A3 posters for
£9.95 (excl. p&p). Offer family tickets, as well as individual
Ceilidh tips and advice
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 floor!
Tickets: Assess your costs (venue, band/caller,
catering and licences) and the capacity of your chosen venue, and
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
Variations: Ceilidhs, barn dances and
hoedowns are similar, with people dancing together in pairs or
small groups. Some dances involve changing partners as the dance
progresses, making this a great event for meeting new friends!
Ceilidhs are associated with Scottish or Irish (ceili) music, while
barn dances are based on English dancing. Traditionally, a ceilidh
would have other entertainment, such as singing, interspersed with
the dancing. Hoedowns often have an American theme, with checked
shirts, cowboy hats and country-style music.
Ceilidh success story:
Sam Reed, treasurer, Friends of Garras Community Primary
Cornwall: 'Last autumn our PTA decided to
hold a soiree with live music, food, auction and bar. Music was
provided by a local Ceilidh band, who were excellent at getting
both young and old onto the dance floor. We sold pasties provided
by a local supplier, and soup and cakes which were donated by
parents. We had a licensed bar, with beer from a local brewery
supplied at a hefty discount. The main financial success of the
night was a silent auction, with prizes donated by local
businesses, artists and parents. We decorated the hall with
bunting, fairy lights and foliage, which all helped to add to the
ambiance. We charged £5 for adults and children were free. We made
a profit of over £1,100, which is fantastic for a tiny school and
pre-school with just over 50 pupils! The event started at 5pm and
finished at 8.30pm, and volunteers had finished clearing up by
10pm. All in all it was a great night and we have decided to make
it a biennial event.'
Download a step-by-step guide to running a
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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