Not content with simply seeing the new year in on Hogmanay (31 December), Scots – and indeed Scotland fans around the world – love a party on Burns Night (25 January), too.
Burns Night is traditionally the time each year when Scotland’s Bard, Robert Burns, is celebrated on the anniversary of his birth. The occasion is usually marked with music, perhaps a ceilidh dance, a plate of haggis, neeps and tatties and a dram of whisky.
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 host to many Burns Night events in January, including the biggest Burns celebratory festival, Dumfries’ Big Burns Supper.
Ever wanted to host a Burns supper but not sure how? Read on for full details.
Burns Night events in 2023
Big Burns Supper
(13, 14, 20 and 21 January along with two family-friendly events on 15 and 22 January 2023)
Now in its 12th ‘edition’ The Big Burns Supper festival in Dumfries has unveiled a new format for its 2023 edition. It will be the first in-person edition that has been able to run in the town since 2020. There will be four one-off Le Haggis evening events at Loreburn Hall. They will be headlined by Craig Charles, Skerryvore, Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 and The Bootleg Beatles.
For more information see bigburnssupper.com
19 January – 5 February 2023
Celtic Connections, the home of world-class music and one-off collaborations, has announced a host of new acts to be added to the dynamic bill for its celebratory 30th edition this January. The internationally renowned event will mark its 30th festival with an ambitious and eclectic programme of music that will be showcased between Thursday 19th January – Sunday 5th February 2023.
Thousands of musicians will perform at venues across the city over the course of the 18-day event, with concerts and performances spanning traditional folk, roots, Americana, jazz, soul and world music. The line-up of acts includes post-punk indie rockers The Twilight Sad, Scottish composer and performer Anna Meredith, as well as Malian singer and guitarist Vieux Farka Touré who presents his new album Ali at the city’s Tramway venue.
For more information and to book, visit www.celticconnections.com
Edinburgh (various venues),
26 – 29 January 2023
Burns&Beyond 2023 presents the very best in traditional and contemporary art and culture from across Scotland… and Beyond! More events and performances to be announced soon. This year’s event sees the return of The Twilight Sad – Stripped Back, and a very special show Kinnaris Quintet & Friends featuring guests Julie Fowlis & Karine Polwart. Tickets for both shows are on sale via www.burnsandbeyond.com
The Real Mary King’s Close
Edinburgh, 25, 27 and 28 January – tours starting at 4pm 2023
The Real Mary King’s Close has partnered with Wedgwood The Restaurant to create an unforgettable Burns Night package filled with poetry, history, Scotch whisky and delightful dishes.
Guests will start with a one-hour guided tour of The Real Mary King’s Close, where they will get to explore the uniquely preserved streets and spaces underneath Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile. They will learn about the city’s hidden history, listen to a recital of Burns’ poetry and raise a glass to Scotland’s favourite son. The tour will be followed with an exquisite three-course menu at Wedgwood The Restaurant, the multi-award-winning Scottish restaurant located on The Royal Mile.
(Price: £79pp for the tour & dinner, over 18s only). Find out more information at www.realmarykingsclose.com/event/burns-night-2023/
Burns – The Musical
Edinburgh Playhouse, 20 – 21 January 2023
(Friday 1930; Saturday, 1430 & 1930)
Burns. A reimagination of the life of the Scottish ‘People’s Poet’, Robert Burns.
Robert Burns is alive and well and living in the modern world! A genius with weakness? Yes. A womaniser, yes, but a cheat, no. Gifted, passionate and flawed, this farmer’s son wants to make his father proud but is pulled between a life of duty and the calling of his creative destiny.
When his musical masterpiece written for ‘The King of Pop’ thrills the world, the fame Robert earns burns brightly…his new social media virality shining on both the light and the dark of his deeds, ultimately sparking a return to his roots to reach his salvation.
Hilarious, harrowing and heart-warming, Burns gives theatre-goers an inside view to the man to raise a glass to – for auld lang syne! Written by Scottish composer, musician and playwright Tish Tindall, this musical is an evolution of a Burns project now over 30 years in the making, first premiering in Hollywood as the Michael Jackson and David Gest collaboration Red Red Rose.
Tickets from £30.00. Book online at www.atgtickets.com/shows/burns/edinburgh-playhouse/
Burns Night at The Fife Arms
Saturday, 28 January
Guests can enjoy an evening of poems, pipers and puddings at The Fife Arms’ annual Burns Night celebration. This event will include Scotland’s Makar, Kathleen Jamie. There is no place more atmospheric than The Fife Arms to mark this uniquely Scottish event (Price from £1,145, based on two people staying. The offer includes two-night stay, breakfast in the Clunie dining room, a formal Burns Dinner with an Address to the Haggis and evening entertainment including traditional readings and musical performances). Book online at thefifearms.com/whats-on/burns-night-2023/
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.co