Enjoy Cèilidh Scottish Folk Dance and Music on Your St Andrews Trip

A cèilidh in full flow

A cèilidh in full flow

An area of outstanding natural beauty, St Andrews is a place which finds its way into your heart with just a single trip.

Friendly folk, breathtaking natural scenery and an abundance of wildlife make this part of Scotland a tiny slice of paradise.

But although it’s a very tranquil spot, with luxury accommodation and fine food, there’s much to see and do during your stay too!

If you’re active and on your feet, you can’t miss out on getting involved in one of the many cèilidhs which take place throughout the town.

A cèilidh is a great social occasion as well as the chance to enjoy some traditional music. If you’ve never partaken, here are the essential facts about one of the greatest Scottish dances.

What is a cèilidh?

Often referred to as a cèilidh dance, it’s a type of Scottish folk dancing which is performed purely for fun.

Unlike traditional Scottish country dancing which was customarily performed for the purposes of competition, a cèilidh is just an occasion to make merry.

A cèilidh band will play onstage, typically five members, including instruments such as the drum, fiddle and accordion. You may also find flutes or guitars included as well. There’s a caller on stage who shouts out the moves as the dance progresses.

Some of the most famous cèilidh dances include Strip the Willow, The Gay Gordons, The Dashing White Sergeant and The Military Twostep.

Although there is the occasional slower cèilidh dance, the vast majority are fast moving. Dancers twirl and whoop as they go through their steps; it’s an occasion to cast off your inhibitions and follow your feet!

 People having a great time at a cèilidh

People having a great time at a cèilidh

Who can do a cèilidh?

A cèilidh is an inclusive dance that’s suitable for anyone who is able-bodied, including older children.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never attended a cèilidh before as the caller will guide you through each of the steps.

Before each dance begins, once everyone has taken to the floor, the caller will slowly walk everyone through the steps so they know what’s coming up. Some of the dances involve weaving in and out, swinging your partner around or swapping positions so a practice run before the music starts is essential!

Once the caller is happy that everyone knows what they’re doing, the music will strike up and the dance will begin. The caller will carry on calling out each of the steps so you don’t have to worry about remembering them.

What’s so great about a cèilidh?

Unlike other types of dances, a cèilidh is first and foremost a social occasion and people are there to have fun.

If you get confused and forget the steps, don’t worry! Those around you who are more experienced will help point you in the right direction; you won’t be the only one who forgets which way to turn!

It doesn’t matter if it’s your first or 100th time doing a cèilidh, the people around you will be welcoming. All that’s required is a willingness to join in and have a go!

What should I wear?

A cèilidh is typically an evening event, held in a series of venues around St Andrews town centre. However, if you dress as if you were going out to a posh restaurant, you could be in for a shock!

The cèilidh dancing is fast and madcap; there’s no debating the fact that flat shoes and cool clothing will be needed. If you’re worried about getting cold after you stop dancing, layer what you wear so you can strip off a jacket or a cardigan when it’s time to hit the floor.

One special tip for the ladies: you will be jumping and bouncing around to the traditional Scottish beat, so to avoid any embarrassing mishaps, low cut tops are best avoided!


Attending a cèilidh in St Andrews will really give you a feel of what the town is all about. A type of dance attended by locals and visitors, a cèilidh is the essence of traditional Scotland, and an occasion that’s certain to leave your spirits soaring!

For a luxurious self catering stay during your time in St Andrews contact us at St Andrews Coachhouses 01334 477593  www.standrewscoachhouses.co.uk


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