An example Science Ceilidh dance adaptation of the traditional "Strip the Willow" explaining Photosynthesis (the Light Dependent Reaction). A fuller explanation is in the full video here


{Scots gaelic, pronounced "Kay-Lee"] 

A community gathering, Scottish Folk Dancing done for all occasions 




The Science Ceilidh is an award-winning educational project bringing people together through science and music.

Containing a mix of experienced scientists, science educators, musicians and folk dancers, the Science Ceilidh Band run events for communities, schools and festivals/conferences, having shared our favourite dances rejigged with a twist of science to over 12,000 dancers (updated January 2017) since our inception in April 2014.  From simulating your immune system with the Dashing White Blood Cell to swinging your partner DNA base-pairs in the Orcadian-Strip-the-Helix or learning about light in the Fluorescence Fling, we invite all people to come along and do a turn at our ceilidhs, and celebrate science through dance, poetry, storytelling, music and other arts! 

Loads of fun! Very lively & energetic....sparked discussion”

”Science works really well through ceilidh!
— Feedback from CRUK Ceilidh Oct 14

We collaborate closely with researchers, universities, community groups, science, music and art festivals to develop creative responses to science concepts: from representing cutting-edge research on cancer treatments to working the local High School Science Clubs to write a dance based on a heart anatomy. 

We have a long-terms schools programme visiting both primary and secondary schools across Scotland and beyond exploring the science of music including the senses, physics of sound, medical technology and new advances in neuroscience research along with music and creative dance.

We also are working closely with teachers to provide open-source, curriculum-linked resources to support and embed cross-curriculum learning with all educators. 

At our very heart, we bring the same energy, inclusiveness and participation of a traditional ceilidh to science!

If you want to get involved somehow, want us to visit your school, festival or event, or have any comments or ideas, get in touch! We are always interested in collaborating, and in 2017, will be especially focusing touring Shetland, Orkney, Western Hebrides as well as mainland Scotland.

For more up-to-date news click here or follow us! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why a Science Ceilidh?!

Everyone can get involved in Folk Music and Dance. As anyone who's tried a ceilidh before knows, you don't need to be a trained dancer to get involved and have a good time! This spirit is exactly what we are trying to bring to Science -  we believe science is culture, and you don't need to be a trained scientist to understand and get involved on some level. It just needs clear instructions and some creativity. 

70% of our Dancer Vounteers for the filming of our resources

70% of our Dancer Vounteers for the filming of our resources

We're particularly passionate about involving audiences who might not usually "do" science. By using music, dance and other arts as a vehicle for science engagement, often through community workshops or sharing our science-dances, we like to break stereotypes about science, using dance as the perfect ice-breaker to allow anyone to talk to scientists, and get people talking about the science behind every day life! 

There are some wonderful creative science-art collaborations around, but ceilidhs (and therefore, Science Ceilidhs) are arguably uniquely events where everyone can (should!) be actively involved, and not just spectators! 

Cheeky bit of filming with STV Edinburgh's Late Show

Cheeky bit of filming with STV Edinburgh's Late Show

Can people really learn about Science using Ceilidh dance?! 

As much as we enjoy our whimsical side and science puns, and often play at events where we are primarily there for entertainment rather than education, we take science engagement very seriously. Many of our dances have been written with scientists as a creative exercise in science communication, and our online resources have been carefully developed to help introduce and explain both fundamental and more cutting-edge science research in a simple, interesting way for all audiences and we also have a school visiting programme which engages directly on the neuroscience of music & movement. 

Are you guys a real ceilidh band? 

Preview of the filming! 

Preview of the filming! 

Yes! We have collectively been playing traditional folk music for years before the Science Ceilidh developed, and have played at Folk Festivals and events all around Europe. Lewis H also used to compete in Scottish Country Dancing and uses this experience in his calling and dance writing. 

How can people actually learn anything whilst dancing?

People are really bad at multitasking, and we don’t expect people to explicitly learn anything by coming to our ceilidhs. Our primary aim for the ceilidhs is to engage and bring new people who might not necessarily go to a science lecture, and break stereotypes about scientists, either by directly (or indirectly) hearing from (and dancing with) scientists through the science-themed dances, which are written assuming no prior knowledge to science but also to be good fun dances. If people leave our ceilidhs having had a good time, sore feet and the general impression that that the sciences (and scientists) aren't always boring and that if they can dance a ceilidh dance, they can potentially understand the fundamental concepts of science, then that is more than enough for us (and we will often evaluate this, so please let us know if not!).

Our more formal science “learning” is facilitated by finding out more about the dances with our online resources and videos, our schools programme which explicitly explores the neuroscience of music relevant for different age groups, and our community programme where we work with groups to explore science themes creatively and bridging the artificial gap between the arts and the scientists.  

Are all the band scientists?

Most of the team have science backgrounds, and all of the team are interested in science even though they work as professional musicians. Lewis H (fiddle, calling) works part-time in neuroscience and is a professional science communicator, Helen Le-Mar (flute) works part-time in a maths education company and has a background in geophysics, and Lewis W (fidde) has a background in chemistry. Gary R (guitar) works as a full-time musician and Fergus H (mandolin) has a background in cultural engagement in Scotland. Find out more of the team here.

Do you guys do conferences/weddings/birthdays/festivals

Yes! Even geeks get married/birthdays ;) More seriously, we very often play for conferences and special events, and very happy to play somewhere on the spectrum between traditional Scottish ceilidhs to more science-themed and/or geeky dances. Just get in touch, we're happy to help!

How can I get involved!?

Just get in touch