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Bagpiper Booking Guide – 2023 Prices, 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. Compare costs and contact over 100 brilliant bagpipers available in the UK
  2. Contact our expert bookings team to discuss your requirements: [email protected]

Browse all Bagpipers → 

Keep reading on and you’ll be an expert on bagpipers in no time!


  1. The Basics
    1. In which parts of the ceremony can a bagpiper play?
    2. What other events can a bagpiper play at?
    3. Can bagpipers play outside?
    4. What will the bagpiper wear?
    5. Can the bagpiper play with a snare drummer?
    6. What about Irish bagpipes?
  2. Tunes / Repertoire
    1. What are the most popular tunes for bagpipes?
    2. Where can I listen to bagpipers?
  3. Booking
    1. How far in advance should I book?
    2. How much does it cost to hire a bagpiper?
    3. How do I handle contracts and payment?
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 day can a bagpiper play?

Professional bagpipers for weddings will normally play outside the church or registry office as the bride, groom and guests arrive for the big day, and then again outside after the ceremony. Wedding bagpipers 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 other events can a bagpiper play at?

Traditional Scottish Bagpipes 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!)

A bagpiper at a funeral can add a special touch to a cremation or burial. The piper can lead the hearse, play as mourners arrive and at certain points during the service.

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, provides beautiful music for a procession
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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

What about Irish bagpipes?

If you’re looking for an Irish piper to play at your event, they will probably play the Uilleann Pipes. These can be recognised by their wider range of notes and sweeter tone. To book an Irish bagpiper for your event, have a look at these Uilleann Pipers available to book on Encore.

Bagpipe Tunes / Repertoire

What are the most popular tunes 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 bagpipe wedding songs. And, while you’re at it, why not take a look at our list of excellent wedding bagpipers available to book now.

Tony Hurst, performing Scotland The Brave

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 peek at our wedding page, to see all the great musicians available to book for your wedding.

How much does it cost to hire a bagpiper?

For most events it costs £160–£300 to hire a bagpiper, depending on a number of factors (experience, distance, duration of the performance, time of year). Here are the typical prices for different performance durations (including breaks):

  • 1 hour of playing: £160-£230
  • 2 hours of playing: £200-£270
  • Over 2 hours of playing: £230-£300+

Each bagpiper will tailor a quote individually to your event, but 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 bagpiper players for hire 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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