January may seem like a month of rest and relaxation after festive indulgences, but there are plenty of reasons to keep celebrating with Burns Night on 25 January.
Scots and visitors alike can toast Robert Burns’ legacy on the big night (the anniversary of his birth) and celebrate Scotland with a wee dram and a traditional Burns supper of haggis, neeps and tatties. There are also exciting events taking place across Scotland, including the Big Burns Supper festival in Dumfries (think cabaret acts, comedy and music alongside the haggis) as well as the world’s first Burns Supper drive-thru in South Ayrshire.
After enjoying the food, Scotland fans can then follow in the Bard’s footsteps 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, which was regularly frequented by Burns and is home to some fascinating memorabilia).
Finally, ever wanted to host a Burns supper but not sure how? Read on for full details.
Burns Night events in 2020
Big Burns Supper
Dumfries (various venues), 23 January – 2 February 2020
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 2020 includes music from Morcheeba, Newton Faulkner and Elephant Sessions; burlesque performers Le Haggis (who might have even made Burns himself blush); and critically acclaimed Band of Burns who will bring their unique take on the Bard’s works at Burns Night Live on 25 January. Brand-new for this year is the addition of two performances of Family Le Haggis, bringing all that is brilliant and bizarre from Dumfries’ favourite cabaret show but suitable for audiences of all ages.
For more information and to book online, go to http://bigburnssupper.com/ or call the Dumfries box office on 01381 271 820.
Burns’ HameToun Events
South Ayrshire (various venues), 23 - 27 January 2020
Celebrate the bard in his ‘hametoun’ with a celebration street party, Burns live music nights, Alloway birthday celebrations, the only Burns Supper in the world to take place in Burns Cottage, the winner of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award and a lot more.
Theworld’s first Burns Supper Drive Thru will take place at Newhailes House & Gardens in Edinburgh on 25 January. Visitors can order their meals on arrival and enjoy from the comfort of their own cars. A bit of poetry or a song can also be expected.
Various prices; for more information see www.burnsfestival.com. For more on the Burns Supper Drive Thru go to www.nts.org.uk/visit/events/burns-supper-drive-thru
Supper with Burns at the Scottish Storytelling Centre
Edinburgh, 23 & 24 January 2020
Enjoy a delicious three-course Scottish dinner – with the centre piece Haggis – and a generous helping of Burns’ stories and songs. Hosted by storytellers David Campbell and Ruth Kirkpatrick, with clarsach player Katie Harrigan. Also featuring Donald Smith’s rendition of Tam O'Shanter. Don’t forget to wear some tartan! There are other events such as Burns for Brunch on 25 January and a family ceilidh. Tickets are £30 for Supper with Burns. For more information see www.scottishstorytellingcentre.com
Travels with Burns
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
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