So, you want to book some live music for your event, but you’ve seen it all before. You’ve danced to pop bands, meditated to string quartets, bopped to jazz trios, as well as everything in between. But, you want something new—so what kind of music will bring a fresh, interesting touch to your event?
Look no further than the traditional sound of Mexico: Mariachi! From their spirited performance style to their dazzling fashion-sense, a mariachi band should be your go-to if you’re after some special and interesting for your event!
In this handy guide, we’ve broken down everything you’ll need to know about booking a mariachi band:
What is a mariachi band?
Mariachi is a traditional musical style from Mexico (dating from the 18th century!). It comes with its own distinct instrumentation, repertoire, performance clothing, singing style, and dance forms. Mariachi bands typically range from 3 to 6 musicians.
They commonly include instruments like the trumpet, violin, accordion, guitar, and vocals. However, mariachi bands also incorporate traditional Mexican instruments—these instruments are essentially variations of the acoustic guitar (the vihuela, and guitarra de golpe) and bass guitar (guitarrón mexicano). These instruments give mariachi bands an unmistakable musical flavour; the sound of Mexico!
What do mariachi bands look like?
A striking feature of mariachi bands is their clothing—but where did it originate? Their uniform is known as the ‘traje de charro’, and is a Mexican variation of a horseman’s riding outfit (originally from Spain). Similarly, female mariachi bands will wear a variation of the traje, usually displaying colourful variants and folk dresses. Oh, and sombreros of course!
Which parts of my event should the mariachi band play for?
Mariachi bands thrive on audience interaction and are usually completely mobile. This is particularly useful for events like birthday parties, wedding receptions, and corporate events—their ability to roam about means they can make their way through the venue, entertaining and serenading your guests as they go. No need for a stage; they’ll bring the music with them.
How much space does the mariachi band need?
Considering mariachi bands aren’t typically confined to one space, it’s more important that there is sufficient room in the venue for them to circle around, providing music to your guests. Most mariachi bands include 3 to 4 musicians, so spacing the dinner tables and letting your venue know about the performance advance is key to success!
What equipment will I need to provide?
Unless your venue is quite large (think, 300+), you probably won’t need to provide any additional equipment. This is especially the case if you are planning on having the band playing and roaming around the venue—they’ll be up-close and personal for your guests,
Should I provide food?
Musicians will appreciate water and light refreshments upon arrival (especially if they’ve travelled a long way to perform for you!). Meals are always welcome, though generally not necessary unless your event is at dinnertime.
Can the mariachi band play outside?
Yes! You won’t even need to provide shade if it’s sunny; ‘sombra’ (the Spanish root of ‘sombrero) quite literally means ‘shade’.
What dress code can I expect?
You should expect the band to wear their traditional traje outfits—the elegant tailoring and colourful vestiary embellishments of these outfits will add a flash of wonder and beauty to any event!
Do mariachi bands need a PA system?
No—unless you would like the band to play on a stage to a large crowd. In this case, you might want to ask your venue ahead of time.
How long will the mariachi band play for?
Much like other types of bands, mariachi bands will play sets in 45–50 minute blocks, with a short 10–15 minute break. Typically, a 2 hour performance (2x 45 minute sets) will be ample for them to impress your guests and cover a majority of their song list.
How much setup time does a mariachi band need?
In order to tune and prepare their instruments for the performance, mariachi bands will usually need about 10–15 minutes to set up.
Do I need to provide parking?
The band will likely be driving to your event (along with their instruments), so please make provision for parking. Having to drive around looking for a parking space in a town you don’t know can be stressful, expensive, and may delay the performance.
What are the most popular pieces for mariachi bands?
Mariachi bands usually include a blend of traditional Mexican music, Latin pop/hits, and English/American pop (covers). It’s certainly worth taking a look at the band’s song list before your event. They can cater to whatever mix of these three styles you’d prefer—mariachi bands can just as easily perform a full set of traditional Mexican tunes as they can perform a set of mainly pop songs.
Keep in mind that English/American pop songs performed by a mariachi band will be given a distinct Mexican flavour—it’s certainly special to hear a mariachi band perform a reimagined version of ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’.
Popular Latin/Mexican requests:
- Despacito – Luis Fonsi
- Volare – The Gipsy Kings
- Quién será? (Sway) – Michael Bublé
- La Bamba – Traditional Mexican
Popular pop requests:
- Happy – Pharrell
- Shape of You – Ed Sheeran
- Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen
- Mambo No. 5 – Lou Bega
- Valerie – Amy Winehouse
Encore mariachi band, Mariachi Ole, perform a cover of Pharrell’s ‘Happy’
Can the mariachi band play my favourite song?
Good question! Modern mariachi bands are getting more adventurous with taking on a variety of musical styles/genres. So, if your favourite song isn’t already included on their songlist, make sure you ask them if they can learn/arrange it for you—their version of your favourite song might even end up sounding better than the original!
How far in advance should I book?
Mariachi bands aren’t too common in the UK yet (like they are in the US)—given this, if you’re interesting in booking a mariachi band, we advise booking as soon as possible.
However, we handle last-minute bookings all the time at Encore and should be able to find a fantastic mariachi band at short notice.
How much does a mariachi band cost?
Each mariachi band will set their own rates, but expect a fee of £600+ for two 45-minute sets, plus travel expenses if applicable (for a 3–4 piece band).
As always, be wary of musicians charging significantly less, as they may not have the skill to deliver a great performance.
Do I have to pay travel fees/porterage?
You may have to factor in travel costs if the band isn’t local. Most musicians have a set radius from their home (generally 15-20 miles) and charge extra for any travel outside that area.
The standard rate is £0.47 per mile, per person, so if the band needs to travel 50 miles each way, that’s an additional £47/person for 100 miles of travel. This amount is included as a rough guide—each band will set their own fees.
How do I handle contracts and payment?
The easiest way to handle contracts and payment is to book through Encore. Our bookings process is extremely straightforward, and once you have confirmed a booking with your chosen mariachi band, contracts and payments will be handled painlessly and effortlessly by our secure ‘Encore Pay’ payment system.
So—now that you’re an expert of the ins-and-outs of booking a mariachi band—feel free to email us at [email protected], or put through an enquiry via our homepage; we’d love to help you find the perfect mariachi band for your event!
(Featured image: Mariachi Loco—available to hire through Encore)