Whether you know every word to famous poet Robert Burns’ “Auld Lang Syne” or you’re yet to try the culinary delicacy that is haggis, chances are you’ve heard of Burns Night. It takes place every year on 25th January, Burns’ birthday, and commemorates the life of bard (poet) Robert Burns, who made a great contribution to Scottish culture. The evening tends to centre on the entrance of the haggis (sausage prepared in a sheep’s stomach) on a platter while bagpipes play in the background and “Address to a Haggis”, a poem written by Burns, is read out.
Despite not being a Bank Holiday in the UK, it’s an excellent opportunity to take some time off and celebrate in a top UK destination. Read on for some ideas.
Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway
This should, of course, be one of the first choices for your Burns Night dinner. Food lovers will be rewarded with traditional haggis, neeps and tatties, and plenty of music and whiskey will be on offer. While there you can learn more about the life and times of Robert Burns, and while inScotlandhead over to Edinburgh for special Burns cupcakes complete with whiskey custard and an edible scroll with Burns’ poetry.
London’s most famous department store is going all out for the poets birthday, with a special evening including a tutored whiskey tasting. You’ll spend your evening celebrating Burns’ life as you indulge in a traditional Burns Night dinner, including the traditional haggis.
Ceilidh Club, London
The home of Scottish Country Dancing is an excellent place to celebrate the event- it’s one of the highlights of their year and they go all out to make sure there are celebrations aplenty. They have 5 nights of Burns night ceilidhs which are held at theHammersmithTown Halland include haggis, neeps and tatties served in a buffet style, with the traditional piping in of the haggis and the recital of the Address to the Haggis on display.
Make an Indian Burns Supper
Make supper like award-winning chef Tony Singh, who last year celebrated both Burns and the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, a leader of Indian culture. To mark the event Tony came up with a fusion menu of Indian and Scottish flavours, including Cock-a-leekie kebab, haggis with neeps and tattie tikki, and clootie samosa. Have a go at adapting your own version of the popular Scottish dish.
Take a bagpipe lesson in Edinburgh
There are many qualified bagpipe tutors in the Scottish city, and learning a tune on the bagpipes in time for Burns Night may be the perfect way to celebrate the occasion. If you’re with friends you can usually organise a group lesson and all learn to play the magnificent instrument together.
Although these are some ideas, there are many more places celebrating Robert Burns’ birthday, including the striking Pump Rooms in Bath, Lurgan Library in Northern Ireland and a musical performance at the Royal Welsh College.
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies,
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!
Jon Stainer is Creative Director at StagWeb.