How to celebrate Burns Night

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    Burns Night is celebrated in Scotland – and globally – around January 25 to commemorate the life of the poet Robert Burns, who was born that day in 1759.

    A traditional Burns Supper celebrates the poet and lyricist’s contribution to Scottish culture and features a host of traditions, which are all usually rounded off with a rendition of Burns’ most famous work, Auld Lang Syne.

    BUrns monument, scotland
    The Burns Monument, Kilmarnock, Strathclyde, Scotland Credit: VisitBritain/Britain on View

    The Burns Supper is an institution of Scottish life and can range from an informal gathering of friends to a huge, formal dinner with many traditional elements. Piping in the guests, the saying of The Selkirk Grace, piping in the haggis, address to the haggis and the toast to the haggis can all take place before the meal itself. It’s usual to wash down the supper of cock-a-leekie soup, haggis, neeps and tatties, clootie cumpling or typsy laird and a cheese board with lashing of wines and, of course, whisky.

    The evening’s festivities are punctuated with readings and performances of Burns’ poems and songs, along with traditions such as The Immortal Memory – a passionate speech on the life of Robert Burns, which concludes with the line: “To the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns!” ­– the toast to the lassies, the reply to the toast to the lassies. And, of course, there is the, possibly slightly squiffy, singing of Auld Lang Syne.

    It’s an insight into Scottish culture, as well as being one of the most raucous national celebrations. And, with celebrations up and down the country, there’s no excuse not to get a taste of the traditions.

    Burns Unbound, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, 22 January 2017, 11am-4pm

    A free mini-festival in honour of Burns Night and the bard, with celebrity hosts, performances and workshops centred around his life and work.

    Burns Cottage, Robert Burns, Scotland
    Burns Cottage, Robert Burns’ first home in Alloway, Strathclyde, Scotland. Credit: VisitBritain/Britain on View

    Burns Night with Prue Leith, Weston Park, Telford, Shropshire, 21 January 2017

    Join us for a very special Burns Night celebration with a weekend away hosted by Prue Leith. A customary Burns Night supper is the centrepiece of the weekend, with each course representing the finest Scottish produce. Dinner with Prue will be set in the historic Dining Room. Guests can then retire to the grandeur of the Victorian Library for a whisky by the fire before retiring for the evening in one of Weston’s beautiful bedrooms. Breakfast will be served the morning after, and the estate is free to explore at your leisure.

    Burns cottage, scotland, robert burns
    Plaque commemorating the birth of Robert Burns at Burns Cottage Credit: VisitBritain/Britain on View

    Burns Night at Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly, London, 25 January, 2017

    Fortnum’s will be honouring the Scottish Bard with an indulgent dinner in its Gallery Restaurant. The traditional four-course menu includes haggis, hand-made oatcakes and Scottish smoked salmon. The menu will be accompanied by wines and whiskies, and entertainment comes courtesy of a classic piper

    Burns Night, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Friday 20 January, 2017, 7.30pm

    The Royal Welsh College Burns Night has quickly established itself as an annual highlight of our calendar and truly offers a night to remember. Join the young musicians and actors of the College who lead our traditional celebration of Burns Night which includes a concert, Burns Supper (Haggis, neeps and tatties or vegetarian alternative and Cranachan dessert), whisky tasting and ceilidh with dance instruction.


    Big Burns Night, 20-29 January, 2017, across Dumfries

    The world’s biggest Burns night celebrations with 10 days of music, theatre, dance, comedy and more.

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