Word of the Week - Hootenanny

Definition: Hootenanny

Noun: A social gathering or informal concert featuring folk singing and sometimes dancing.


An informal session at which folk singers and instrumentalists perform for their own enjoyment.


"Remember to bring your own instruments to our hootenanny tonight!"

"The annual New Year's hootenanny is always a big success!"


The word “hootenanny” was first heard in the 1930's when folk singers used the word to describe monthly music charity concerts that took place in Washington. The word was later used in the 1960's in New York to describe weekly parties, which featured famous folk singers of the time.

Modern Day Hootenannies

Students at our Edinburgh school this summer will certainly see plenty of hootenannies!  In August every year, Edinburgh hosts the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is an event that celebrates music, dance, comedy and drama. The festival takes place in venues and streets all over the city. There are always plenty of open mic nights and performances where audiences can join in!

For our students in Irvine, there is an annual one-day rockabilly festival held at the Oak Canyon Ranch. For those interested in cars, this festival also has a vintage car show!

Famous hootenannies

“Hootenanny” is an annual New Year's Eve music show in the UK. It features a variety of live music from a wide range of artists. Famous guests that have featured on the show in include Amy Winehouse, Florence and the Machine and Jessie J.

Amy Winehouse in 2006 taking part in a famous hootenanny
Amy Winehouse in 2006 taking part in a famous hootenanny

The Californian band Weezer had a “Hootenanny” tour in 2008, which allowed fans to join in and play songs with the band.

Have you ever taken part in a hootenanny? If so, we'd love to hear your stories! Do you have a word for "hootenanny" where you're from?

Share this with your friends