Burns Night the perfect time to visit Scotland and celebrate! He may be 260, but he’s not doing too shabby: Robert Burns - Scotland’s national bard - is celebrated every year on would have been his birthday, 25 January, and which is now known as Burns Night. Scots and visitors alike can toast his legacy and celebrate Scotland with a wee dram and a traditional Burns supper of haggis, neeps and tatties.
A traditional Burns Night supper of haggis, neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes)
After enjoying the food, Scotland fans can then follow in the Bard’s footsteps across Scotland, including his birthplace, Alloway in Ayrshire – home to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum – and Dumfries, which is home to places such as Ellisland Farm (built by Robert Burns as his home in 1788) and the Globe Inn pub (established in 1610 and regularly frequented by Burns and home to some fascinating memorabilia).
What’s more, Scotland plays hosts to many Burns Night events in January, including the biggest Burns celebratory festival, Dumfries’ Big Burns Supper (headlined by KT Tunstall in 2019), and the festival in his hometown, Burns an’ a’ that.
Finally, ever wanted to host a Burns supper but not sure how? Read on for full details.
Burns Night events in 2019
Big Burns Supper
Dumfries (various venues), 24 January – 3 February 2019
A Burns supper with a twist, the world’s biggest contemporary Burns celebration runs for 11 days at the end of January in the vibrant capital of South Scotland, Dumfries. The festival takes place in venues, bars, art galleries, museums and has an 800 capacity Spiegeltent which includes a strong roster of international names taking place.
The line-up for 2019 includes KT Tunstall, burlesque performers Le Haggis (that might have even made Burns himself blush), comedy from Ed Byrne and Hardeep Singh Kohli, the Bootleg Beatles and award-winning singer songwriter, Hazel O’Connor. And yes, there will be haggis, too.
For more information and to book online, go to http://bigburnssupper.com/ or call the Dumfries box office on 01387 271 820.
Burns and Beyond
Edinburgh (various venues), 22 – 27 January 2019
A brand new festival celebrating Scottish culture from Burns to the present day. Highlights of events include Museum of the Moon at the iconic St Giles Cathedral on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile: a new touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram which is a fusion of lunar imagery, moonlight and surround sound. Measuring seven metres in diameter and featuring detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface. Also featured in Burns and Beyond is Red Red Rose Street, a week of celebrations in the city centre that includes a Burns Supper, a free family Ceilidh and Burns Club comedy nights.
Museum of the Moon is free to attend. For more information on other events in the programme and tickets, please visit www.burnsandbeyond.com
Royal Yacht Britannia, Burns Supper
Edinburgh, 25 & 26 January, 2019
To get into the spirit of Burns Night, the Royal Yacht Britannia is hosting a ticketed traditional Burns supper aboard the famous ship.
With two dates available, Friday, 25 January and Saturday, 26 January, 2019, guests will be welcomed aboard by Britannia's piper to experience an unforgettable Scottish evening. A delicious four-course menu will be served in the State Dining Room by Britannia's butlers. Featuring the very best Scottish ingredients, dinner will be prepared by Executive Chef Mark Alston and his team in the original Royal Galleys. Traditional Scottish music will be played throughout dinner by Britannia's musicians and, the highlight of the evening, the Address to a Haggis will be followed by a Whisky Tasting in the State Drawing Room.
Tickets are priced £205 per person. For more information and to book, go to: www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk
Burns an’ a’ that Festival - Burns Hame Toun
Alloway, South Ayrshire (various venues), throughout January 2019
Celebrating its eighteenth anniversary in 2019, the festival celebrates Burns in a month-long celebration that includes the brand new Burns Hame Toun, The Robert Burns Humanitarian Awards, Burns Birthday Celebrations (at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum), the world's first Burns Supper Drive Thru plus the only Burns supper in the world to take place in Burns Cottage, where it all began.
For more information, and to book tickets, please visit www.burnsfestival.com
Locations with a Burns connection are fascinating and certainly worth visiting on a trip to Scotland, including the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, South Ayrshire. There is also an opportunity to visit the home of Souter Johnnie, who was immortalised in a famous Burns poem, in Kirkoswald. Other Burns attractions in Ayrshire include the Bachelors' Club in Tarbolton, the 17th century thatched cottage where Burns established his debating club, and the Burns House Museum in Mauchline where Robert Burns lived and worked between 1784 and 1788.
Burns enthusiasts, or anyone simply interested in seeing a beautiful corner of Scotland, can take a trip to Dumfries & Galloway. Burns’ former home Ellisland Farm is now a museum where some of his original writings and possessions are on display.
A welcome sight for those in search of warmth and comfort (and perhaps a whisky), the Globe Inn in Dumfries is notable in that it is one of the country’s oldest hostelries and used to be frequented by Burns himself. It is rumoured that anyone who dares sit in Burns’ old chair (which is still at the bar) is challenged to recite a line of his poetry and buy everyone a drink at the bar.
Whilst in Dumfries, visitors can also spend an afternoon at Burns’ final home, Robert Burns House, on the aptly named Burns Street. Discover the famous Kilmarnock and Edinburgh editions of Burns’ work and take a look around the study where he wrote some of his best-loved poems. The Burns Mausoleum, the final resting place for Burns, his widow Jean, and five of their children, is also only a short walk away in St Michael’s Kirkyard.
Robert Burns’ connections with Scotland’s capital have long been celebrated. On 28 November 1786 when Robert Burns arrived in Edinburgh its gates were flung open to him. He stayed in Baxter's Close in a house which has been demolished and is now Deacon Brodie’s Tavern on the Royal Mile.
Also based on the city’s Royal Mile, the Writers’ Museum has a permanent Robert Burns collection which is recognised to have national significance. Displayed in the museum is a collection of portraits of Burns along with the writing desk from his Dumfries home at which he wrote some of his best-known work. Whilst in Edinburgh, fans of Burns will be able to see one of the most famous portraits at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery - Alexander Nasmyth's portrait of Robert Burns.
Hosting a Burns Supper
Along with haggis (a vegetarian option is also available, see Macsween haggis www.macsween.co.uk), neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes), here are the instructions for a perfect gathering on 25 January.
(For access to the Burns works indicated, see www.robertburns.org).
To start – everyone gathers, the host says a few words, everyone sits and the Selkirk Grace is said.
The meal – the starter is served, the haggis is piped in (by a piper in a kilt naturally), the host performs Address to a Haggis, everyone toasts the haggis and the main meal is served, followed by dessert (cranachan is a great option.)
After the meal, the first Burns recital is performed, the Immortal Memory (the main tribute speech to Burns) is given, the second Burns recital is performed, and then there’s a Toast to the Lassies, followed by a Reply to the Toast to the Lassies, before the final Burns recital is performed.
To end the night – the host gives a vote of thanks, everyone stands and sings Auld Lang Syne, crossing their arms and joining hands at the line ‘And there's a hand, my trusty fere!’.
For more information on Robert Burns, Scotland and Burns Night, visit www.visitscotland.com/burns
For more information on self-catering accommodation in Scotland in which to host a Burns Night supper go to www.visitscotland.com