Every year on January 25, Scottish people at home and abroad celebrate the life and works of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns. This year it will be no different, with numerous events taking place around the country to recite his famous works and celebrate his lasting legacy on Scottish culture.
Read on for your 2013 guide to Burns Night in Scotland:
Who was Robert Burns?
Born in Alloway on January 25 1759, Robert Burns lived to be just 37 years old when he passed away. However, in that short space of time he became Scotland’s most famous poet and lyricist, penning such works like ‘Auld Lang Syne‘, ‘Tam o’ Shanter‘ and ‘To a Mouse‘ to name just a few. His works have had a profound effect on future generations around the world. If you’re not too familiar with Scotland’s famous bard, take a look at the following animated video chronicling his life:
Video courtesy of Scotland.org
What happens during a Burns Supper?
A Burns Supper takes place on the evening of January the 25 and will feature a combination of Burns poetry recitals, traditional Scottish food such as cock-a-leekie soup, Haggis, neeps and tatties, whisky, dancing and much more. Burns Suppers can range from an informal gathering of your nearest and dearest, to a large, formal dinner spectacle. To learn more, try our page on Burns Suppers or check out the following resources that will help you host your own Burns Night:
- Traditional Scottish Recipes for Burns Night - from Edinburgh’s Michelin star chef Tom Kitchin
- Burns Night running order – including a Burns Night itinerary and videos from the BBC
- Address to a Haggis – Learn more about the famous poem and centrepiece of Burns Suppers
What’s on around Scotland for Burns Night?
If you’ve left it too late to plan your own Burns Supper, don’t stress as there are a number of ways you can take part in celebrations going on throughout Scotland. Below are seven events that are sure to be great fun! If you want to share your own event that’s not featured here, please tell us in the comments!
1. Big Burns Supper in Dumfries (25 – 27 January)
How can we start without mentioning the world’s biggest Burns Night celebration? The Big Burns Supper held in Dumfries is a massive festival comprised of Burns Suppers, poetry slams, live music performances and much more. If you want see how much fun everyone in attendance had in 2012, take a look at the video below:
2. Big Burns Night at Celtic Connections in Glasgow (25 January)
Celtic Connections are planning an impressive tribute to Rabbie at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Enjoy an impressive lineup of Scottish artists including Blazin’ Fiddles, Kathleen MacInnes and Dougie MacLean for a night of Celtic music and Burns songs and melodies. It should be a fantastic night, so book quickly as tickets won’t last!
3. Haggis Lich Nicht in Inverness (25 January)
Promising to be an evening of family fun and laughter, join revelers in the city centre of Inverness for an interactive event to celebrate poems and songs from The Bard. The evening will include an entertaining ’rounding up of the Haggis’ followed by a finale performance in Eden Court’s OneTouch Theatre.
4. Alloway 1759 in Ayrshire (23 – 27 January)
Step back in time at Alloway 1759, which takes place in and around Burns Cottage and the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. The streets will be lined with costumed characters and live performers to create a truely unique atmosphere. Enjoy a wide variety of events that includes haggis hurling, The Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra, Burns Childrens’ Party, Hoots Owls, and Willie Stewart singing songs of Burns.
5. Burns Unbound in Edinburgh and East Kilbride (25 – 27 January)
Ever aspired to be like Robert Burns? Release your inner bard in either Edinburgh (National Museum of Scotland) or East Kilbride (Museum of Rural Life) during a family friendly Burns themed weekend. There will be a full programme of entertainment, including storytelling for the kids, recitals of Burns’ poems and live music performances from award winning Scottish singer Amy Macdonald, Skerryvore and harpist Jennifer Port. Sounds like a great weekend out for the whole family!
In Aberdeen, Burns Night is celebrated with a traditional ceilidh at the Beach Ballroom on the 25 and 26 January. Meanwhile in Banchory, the Woodend Barn will be hosting a Burns Night with a subtle twist, as the revolutionary side of Burns is explored through a number of different mediums, including film, music and spoken word.
7. Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh (19 – 25 January)
During his life Robert Burns was known for his close links to whisky – when he was younger he worked as a customs officer (at a time where illegal distilling and smuggling was common) but he would later pay tribute to the famous drink in many of his songs and poems. So If you’re in Edinburgh this weekend, why not celebrate Burns’ close links to Whisky by taking a tour of Edinburgh’s famous Scotch Whisky Experience, where you’ll have the opportunity to try some historic drams – including a 25 year old Cutty Sark ‘Tam O Shanter’ edition available in their newly refurbished shop.
Impress your friends with some Burns Trivia!
Robert’s influence on future generations worldwide has been remarkable. When you’re meeting up with your family and friends on Burns Night why not share these 5 rare Burns facts:
- He was the first individual to appear on a commemorative bottle of Coca-Cola - a unique tribute to celebrate the Year of Homecoming Scotland 2009.
- The oldest existing statue of him isn’t in Scotland, or in the UK for that matter. It’s in Camperdown, a small town in the state of Victoria, Australia.
- Bob Dylan has said that the Burns poem ‘A Red, Red Rose’ is his greatest source of creative inspiration.
- One of his most famous works, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as being one of the top 3 most popular songs in the English language, along with ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’.
- Two of the America’s most famous authors, J.D. Salinger and John Steinbeck, have used Burns’ poems as inspiration for their classic novels ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and ‘Of Mice and Men’.
Additional Burns Resources
- Burns Night cocktails and whisky recommendations via New York Times
- ‘To a Mouse’ karaoke style video via National Museums Scotland
- VisitScotland Burns Section
- Burns iPhone App via Scotland.org
- Rhyme with Rabbie Burns via Scotland.org
Well we hope you have a great time on Burns Night. Please tell us what you’re getting up to on the evening to celebrate Scotland’s famous bard!