What is Ceilidh
and where dance it

Bagpiper in Edinburgh

Ceilidh (pronounced ˈkeɪli) is the traditional dance in Scotland. From Celtic origin, ceilidh started in Scotland and Ireland. The word means in Gaelic something like "meeting" or "social event". In its inception, ceilidh didn't need to be accompanied by music or dance. Oddly enough, the dance it's what has lasted until today.

This type of dance is very animated and can be seen today on special occasions such as weddings and other events, in addition to pubs that organise them. That's why we have many types of ceilidh. Depending on the event, we can have some with age restrictions, and others with dressing restrictions. It's not the same as a ceilidh dance organised by Edinburgh university or one by the upper-class of Edinburgh!

However, there are some common elements that you can find in any type of ceilidh, no matter how ceremonious the event is. For example, to play music there will always be violins, flutes, accordions and drums. Anyway, since a picture is worth a thousand words, here you have a video from the BBC showing you how to dance ceilidh!

Usually a "caller" organises people and the type of choreography. Well, enough information about ceilidh, let's move to where you can watch (or dance) it!

Where to see and dance ceilidh in Edinburgh

Ceilidh event with a band playing Scottish music and people dancing

Edinburgh Summerhall

Note: Celidh is suspended due to covid-19

Every Tuesday at the Summerhall the Edinburgh Ceilidh Club brings us the best ceilidh bands. Any person over 14 is welcome, no matter how experienced.


Stramash it's one of the most popular bars in Edinburgh. The pub used to be a former church, and inside hides a spacious pub with a stage and two floors.

Entry to Stramash is free, and they organise ceilidh events. Most people that join the dance aren't experts, and it's just people looking for a good time. That, along with the fact that the bar is in the city centre, probably makes Stramash the best place for tourists looking to experience ceilidh.