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Bagpiper Booking Guide – 2019 Prices, Hiring Advice and FAQs

Bagpiper in kilt

Are you curious about hiring a bagpiper for a wedding or private event but don’t know where to start? We’ve compiled answers to the questions we hear most often, complete with tips from some of our top bagpipers.

If you’ve already chosen to book a bagpiper and you’re looking for options, you can either:

  1. Contrast costs and contact over 100 brilliant bagpipers available in the UK
  2. Contact our expert bookings team to discuss your requirements: [email protected]

Outline:

  1. The Basics
  2. Tunes / Repertoire
  3. Booking
Tony Hurst piping
Tony Hurst, one of Encore’s most booked bagpipers—available to hire for your wedding, corporate event, or birthday party

The Basics

In which parts of the wedding ceremony can a bagpiper play?

Bagpipers will normally play outside the church or registry office as the guests and bride arrive for the wedding day, and then again outside after the ceremony. Wedding pipers can also play at the reception—generally providing wedding entertainment for about twenty minutes to get the crowd dancing and then a DJ will take over.

What can the bagpiper do at a Burns’ Night?

A bagpiper will make your Burns Night an affair to remember! The piper can play your guests in and pipe the haggis in and out of the dining room. Some pipers can also address the haggis. (For Non-Scots, click here to find out what’s involved in a Burns supper!)

Can bagpipers play outside?

Bagpipers can play outside, but weather can make a big difference to the quality of the sound when playing the bagpipes. A good piper will be able to tune their pipes correctly even in poor weather, but constantly changing conditions can make this a difficult task for even the most experienced pipers.

In rainy conditions, pipers will wear a cape over their uniform to protect it; however, this will cover up the tartan.

A good guideline for weather is that if you wouldn’t want to stand in it, neither would your piper.

Matthew McRae piping
Encore bagpiper, Matthew McRae, providing beautiful music for a procession

What will the bagpiper wear?

There are two traditional uniforms that a piper can wear: No. 1 and No. 2 dress.

No. 1 dress is the traditional highland dress normally reserved for weddings, funerals, and other formal ceremonies. The client can request No. 1 dress, but it is important to note that not every piper will own this attire as it’s quite expensive.

All pipers will own No. 2 dress, which can be used for any occasion. Pipers will look just as smart as those in No. 1 dress, with some clients preferring it to the full regalia. No. 2 dress comprises a kilt with a jacket, tie, socks, gillie brogues, and a glengarry (hat).

Some pipers list a few different tartans on their profiles so the clients can pick a specific tartan for their piper to wear. However, this tends to be limited to No. 2 dress as very few pipers will have more than one plaid (the length of tartan that wraps around the body and drapes over the left shoulder).

Some pipers may also be willing to hire a specific tartan when requested by the client—however the cost of this would be charged to the client.

Can the bagpiper play with a snare drummer?

Absolutely! A drummer will add an even more special flavour to your event. Another option is to hire a mini band which usually consists of several pipers, 1-2 snare drummers and a bass drummer all in the same kilts. This will look and sound spectacular.

Andy the Piper with wedding couple
Andy the Piper, in No. 1 highland dress, alongside a happy wedding couple

Bagpipe Tunes / Repertoire

What are the most popular songs for bagpipes?

Bagpipe music is normally either from Scotland or Ireland, as that’s where the music was written! Some of the most popular are:

  • Scotland the Brave
  • Highland Cathedral
  • All Those Endearing Young Charms
  • Amazing Grace
  • Highland Wedding
  • Flower of Scotland
  • The Skye Boat Song

If you’re intrigued by the music of highland pipers, and thinking of having a bagpiper play at your wedding, take a look at some of the best wedding songs for bagpipes. And, while you’re at it, why not take a look at our excellent wedding bagpipers available to book.

Where can I listen to bagpipers?

Go to Encore’s bagpiper page and listen to different pipers’ audio/video clips. You can even filter by location to find bagpipers near you!

Matthew McRae, performing Highland Cathedral in a traditional Highland outfit

Booking a Bagpiper

How far in advance should I book?

We advise booking as soon as possible, especially if you have specific musical requests, or are hosting a special event. That said, we handle last-minute bookings all the time at Encore and can easily find you a bagpiper at short notice.

If you’ve come to this point of the article, and you’ve realised that you’re actually looking for a different kind of musician for your wedding, take a peak at our wedding page, to see all the great musicians available to book for your wedding.

What’s the typical price for a bagpiper?

Between £160–£250 for an hour of playing, depending on a number of factors (experience, distance, duration of performance, time of year). Each bagpiper will tailor a quote individually to your event.

Remember that a cheaper quote doesn’t necessarily mean a better deal for you. Make sure to listen to each bagpiper, look for reviews and testimonials and find out their level of experience. It’s worth paying for a good bagpiper who will create a haunting, unforgettable atmosphere.

Kenneth McBride, with pipe band
Pipe bands are certainly a statement, and they look fantastic too! Pipe major, and Encore bagpiper, Kenneth McBride, is available to book as a soloist, or in a band.

How do I handle contracts and payment?

The easiest way to handle contracts and payment is to book through Encore. We are one of the top providers of bagpipers in the UK—in fact, we recently booked bagpipers for each leg of Rod Stewart’s UK-wide tour! Our bookings process is extremely straightforward, and once you have confirmed a booking with your bagpiper, contracts and payments will be handled painlessly and effortlessly by our secure payments system.

Hopefully this guide answers all of your questions! If you have more questions about bagpipers, email us at [email protected] and we’d be more than happy to help.

Alternatively, to make your bagpiper hire super simple, just click below to browse all the bagpipers on Encore (and, fingers crossed, find the perfect bagpiper for your event!):

Browse all Bagpipers →

James McAulay

Encore Co-Founder & CEO. Cellist, pianist, singer and aspiring guitarist.

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