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A ceilidh is a wonderful opportunity to get a group of people together to dance and enjoy themselves.  Ceilidh (pronounced “kay-lee”) is a Scottish Gaelic word.  Ceilidh dancing is usually done to a live band, playing folk tunes written specifically for dancing.  The Blue Hat Ceilidh Band play tunes from Scotland, England, Canada and New England, to give a lively and varied sound.


Ceilidh dances are usually danced in couples – two people dancing together – occasionally in groups of three people dancing together.  At events such as weddings and parties, it's common to dance mostly set dances, involving a number of couples dancing together in different formations.  This can be in a large circle (e.g. the Circassian Circle), in lines (such as the Bridge of Athlone, a popular Irish dance), or in square sets.  You might be familiar with the Dashing White Sergeant, a dance that is done in groups of three.   There are also many popular couple dances, where you only dance with the person you got up with, such as the Gay Gordons and the St. Bernard’s Waltz.

Ceilidh dancing is accessible to almost anyone.  Most popular ceilidh dances are great for children to participate in, providing they are able to tell their right from their left.  For smaller children, it’s often possible to make a group of three people – two adults and a child – to allow them to participate.  Some dances can be adapted for those with mobility issues and other disabilities, including wheelchair users so long as they have a good turning circle!  Robin, our caller, will be happy to advise which dances this will work best for, and he will adapt the dances to be suitable for anybody who wishes to dance wherever possible.

Ceilidhs can be held anywhere where there’s a large enough space for dancing.  Common venues include village/church halls, community centres and hotel or pub function rooms.  See our Frequently Asked Questions for more information about how to find a suitable venue.


A ceilidh dance can be a stand-alone event, in which case the dancing may last anywhere between 2 and 4 hours, or can be part of an evening of entertainment which may also include a meal, a disco, or other forms of entertainment.  This is common at weddings, where the ceilidh dance might happen in the earlier part of the evening, followed by a disco to finish the night off.

If you’ve never been to a ceilidh before and would like to find out what it’s all about, there are regular public ceilidhs held around the North East.  Contact us to find out where and when there’s a ceilidh near you, or you can find the Tyneside Ceilidh Nights online or on facebook.  Tyneside Ceilidh Nights hold monthly ceilidhs and always welcome new dancers.  It’s a great place to find out more about ceilidh dancing and give it a try.

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