What is a strolling band?
A strolling band — also known as a roaming band, or acoustic wandering band—is a group of musicians that leave their cables and PA behind, allowing them to perform for their audience in a completely mobile way. Unlike other acoustic ensembles, like string ensembles, they can get on their feet and move around, going from the drinks reception to the dance floor with ease! They can range from duos to larger 10+ groups, such as marching bands, and play a variety of music, from pop to jazz, and everything in between. They can either take a leading role in the event’s entertainment itinerary, or function more as background music.
Booking a roaming band means that your live entertainment won’t even need a stage in order to dazzle and delight all the guests at your event. The simple setup, and fun, interactive spirit of wandering acoustic acts is part of what makes them so compelling—that, and you’ll be saving on sound system hire costs, all while making the band’s performance even more intimate and engaging.
There are many different types of roaming band out there, so summing them all up in one go is a tall order! This complete guide to booking a strolling band will go through all the types of roaming band available, the styles of music they can play, as well as practical information, like costs, set up requirements, and tips on booking.
What types of groups are there?
If a roaming band is simply a band that can perform acoustically, and walk around while doing it, you can see why there are so many different types to choose from within this category. Essentially, there are different types of roaming band for just about every instrument combination. Whether it’s a large ensemble of big brass instruments, or an equally large ensemble of little ukuleles, if you can play the instrument while walking, you can bet there’s a group of musicians that specialises in it!
Here are a few examples of the range of different roaming bands you can find on Encore:
- Acoustic roaming bands
- Brass bands
- Marching bands
- Ukulele bands
- Mariachi bands
- Bavarian oompah bands
- New Orleans street bands
- Wandering troubadours
- Barbershop groups
- Steel drum bands
Which events are strolling bands suitable for?
Typically, those looking to arrange a strolling band booking will fall into one of two categories. One: you are looking for entertainment for an event like a wedding, birthday party, or corporate event, but want something a little different to the normal band setup; something a bit more unique and distinctive. Second: you are putting on a themed-event, and the type of roaming band you’re looking for suits it perfectly. That could be an Oktober-themed event, where a roving oompah band would be ideal, soundtracking a Día de Muertos party with a mobile mariachi band, or a medieval fayre, where troubadours abound.
Whatever the occasion, there is bound to be a roaming band that will happily be a part of your event! Here is a little sample of the kind of events a roaming band would suit:
- Oktoberfest events
- Mexican themed events
- Medieval fayres
- Opening ceremonies
- Outdoor events / street parties
- Summer parties
- Christmas parties
- Corporate events
- Charity events
- Birthday parties
- Private parties
What music can strolling bands play?
Roaming bands will often have an extensive list of music, suited to their particular style—most bands will also include pop music alongside their other music, especially if they play traditional or folk music (oompah bands and mariachi bands for instance). For example, one of Encore’s most popular mariachi bands, Mariachi Ole, can perform a stunning version of Pharrell Williams’ Happy, alongside traditional folk songs
Like wedding bands and normal acoustic bands, roaming bands will let you choose songs from their song list if you particularly want to hear them played, and can even take some requests if given enough time to prepare. Again, most roaming bands can play a wide range of music, and will be able to perform interesting covers of songs outside their normal style.
To see some of Encore’s roaming bands playing music within, and outside, their style, take a look at the following examples:
How much does it cost to hire a strolling band?
The standard amount for a two hour performance (i.e., 2x 45 minute sets, with a short break between) for most roaming bands, similar to function bands for instance, is around £250–500 per person. Each group will fix their own pricing: some bands will charge for the amount of time they are required, and others will have a set fee for the type of event you would like them for. When you go through Encore’s enquiry form, we’ll show you a graph of expected rates to help you with making a decision on your budget.
Typical strolling band prices (for 2x 45 minute sets):
|3 piece band||£600-1600|
|5 piece band||£1000-2500|
|7 piece band||£1400-3500|
In order for the band to provide you with an exact quote, they will need to take a few factors into account. This includes the travel to and from your venue, the equipment they’ll need to bring (which will depend on the venue), and if there will be any long waits between their performance. For instance, if they are requested to perform in the afternoon, then later in the evening.
If you’d like to compare quotes for different roaming bands, the easiest way is to fill out our enquiry form. Once done, the available bands will have all the information they need to provide you with pretty accurate quote for your event. Their quote is only provided to you once they’ve calculated travel costs and their performance fee, making the decision process much easier with all the information gathered in one convenient place!
Set up details
How much space does a strolling band need?
The beauty of a roaming band is that the amount of space they need is definitely not fixed! Because they have the ability to roam around your venue easily, all that needs to be kept in mind is making sure there is enough space for them to manoeuvre around amongst the guests, and ensuring there are no tripping hazards (loose wires, etc.).
How long does a strolling band need to set up?
Unlike most ensembles, roaming bands tend not to have too much equipment to set up, other than their instruments. You can also take out the time needed for a sound check—as soon as their instruments are tuned, the music will be ready to be heard! Given this, around 15 minutes will usually be enough time for the band to get set up and prepared to play. Pack up is just as fast too!
How long can a strolling band play for?
Performance lengths vary for roaming bands, and it really depends on the type of event you have booked them for. For instance, while the usual length of most performances is 2 hours, some performances might be considerably shorter, for a wedding procession, or New Orleans street band flash performance, for instance. Unless the performance is shorter than 30 minutes, a roaming band’s performance will be split up into sets lasting 45 minutes to 1 hour long. After each set, the band will take a short break to re-tune, have a bit of water for the old vocal chords, and then get back into it!
Our strolling bands are happy to play their sets in a row (with a 15 minute breaks in between each set), or spread throughout the day (over the course of several hours). Make sure to let them know when filling out the enquiry form, or in your message to them, as it will likely affect their price.
What equipment do I need to provide for a strolling band?
For a roaming band, very little. The main thing is that venue where they will be walking around should be safe and dry. Musicians with wet or broken instruments will not be happy musicians at all! Refreshments and food is always appreciated, especially if you’ve booked the band for an extended period.
Can a strolling band play outside?
This is a roaming band’s bread and butter! While you should always give the band up front notice that your event is outdoors, and they will need to perform outside, they will likely be expecting this already. So long as there is cover nearby—especially in summer for the sun, and in winter from the cold, and always from the rain—getting the band to play outside will be totally fine. The band won’t need a power supply, so this makes the logistics of them playing outdoors super simple!
Can a strolling band take song requests?
Yes! If it’s on their song list, it’s just as easy as them adding it into their performance for you. However, if you do have a request that isn’t already included on their song list, it may take the band a little longer to prepare the part for their instruments when compared to a usual cover style band. This is because most often they will need to change the parts quite drastically to suit their particular style of music—this takes a little more preparation. For this reason, it will often mean the band has to charge a small fee to add extra songs to their list.
Booking a Strolling band on Encore
Does Encore have any strolling bands in my area?
We have over 40,000 professional musicians on our books at Encore, so we pride ourselves on being able to find you a local musician, wherever you are in the UK. Hiring a local band is a smart idea, as they won’t have to add extra travel expenses to their quote, meaning you’ll be seeing their best price (and keeping your expenses down while you’re at it). To make this possible, we have a location filter which you can use to narrow down your search to bands that are close to your venue. Booking an acoustic wandering band close by has never been so easy!
You can see our selection of strolling bands in your area here: strolling bands for hire.
If you happen to be looking at a band that are a bit further away, that’s OK too! Most of our bands are more than willing to travel, and can do so at a fair rate.
We have a friendly and knowledgeable team who are experts in booking live music, so feel free to call on 020 3111 1480 Monday–Friday, 10am–6pm, and we’ll be happy to help if you have any questions!
How far in advance should I book?
We advise arranging your roaming band booking as quick as you can, especially if you have more than a few requests. May to October is a particularly busy period for our bands, so if you would like a band to perform at your event, we recommend booking as soon as you have your venue organised.
That said, we regularly handle last-minute bookings at Encore—we can easily find a wedding band for you at short notice!
If you're looking for a strolling band for an event within the next few weeks, get in touch with our team! [email protected]. We’ll make sure you are paired with great strolling bands ASAP.
How do I handle contracts and payment?
The easiest way to handle contracts and payment is to book through Encore. Our bookings process is straightforward, and, once you have confirmed a booking with your chosen band, contracts and payments will be handled painlessly and effortlessly by our secure payment system.
You can learn more about the Encore booking process here or email [email protected].
Can you recommend me a great strolling band for my event?
The best way to make sure you find the best group for your event to match your event is to complete our enquiry form. You’ll receive tailored quotes from great strolling bands near you within a matter of moments.
If you’d prefer to go directly to our musicians and take a look at their profiles while you’re there, some of our most popular strolling bands are: