As any Scot worth their tartan will tell you, Burns Night is an integral part of Scottish culture. Celebrated annually on 25 January, it honours their national poet, Robert Burns, who was born on that day in 1759.
Traditional celebrations involve feasting on haggis, drams of whisky, ceilidhs (Scottish or Irish social gatherings involving folk dancing and music) and recitations of the national bard’s work.
Joining in the festivities is fun for all, regardless of your heritage, particularly as the Scots know how to put on a party.
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And happily, Burns Night falls on a Friday this year, leaving plenty of time for sore heads to recover.
Those looking to revere Rabbie in the Big Smoke have plenty of chances to eat, drink and be merry. The Ceilidh Club in west London offers three hours of traditional Scottish dancing, plus a haggis, neeps and tatties buffet (vegan option available). If you’ve never ceilidh-danced before, don’t worry – there’s a “caller” to talk you through the steps. The event usually sells out, so act fast if you want to be part of the action.
Saturday 19, Friday 25 and Saturday 26 January, 1 and 2 February; entry £37.50
The Birmingham Whisky Club is a specialist tasting room in the city’s historic Jewellery Quarter. Ahead of Burns Night, the venue will host an evening of open mic poetry and spoken word, with one of the region’s most exciting spoken word performers, Ciarán Hodgers, headlining. Sip a dram or two and get inspired.
Wednesday 23 January, 7pm; pay what you can – all proceeds go to the performers
The stylish and secret city-centre bar The Milk Thistle is hosting a Burns Night celebration in conjunction with the Scotch whisky brand Chivas Regal. Renowned for its excellent selection of cocktails, The Milk Thistle will be celebrating with a three-course Scottish meal in its lavish dining room, including a flight of Chivas whiskies plus a tutored tasting from a whisky expert.
Friday 25 January, 7.30pm; tickets £45
The Britons Protection pub in Manchester is well-known for its extensive collection of more than 300 whiskies. On Burns Night, dram enthusiasts can gather in the bar’s dedicated whisky lounge to sip a selection in the poet’s honour, mopped up with a half-time supper of haggis, neeps and tatties.
Friday 25 January, 7pm; tickets £32 (contact the bar directly to purchase)
Those seeking a traditional Burns experience should head to Glamis Castle. Located in the Angus countryside in east Scotland, this imposing building has a fascinating history spanning 1,000 years. It was the childhood home of the Queen Mother and features in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Burns Night celebrations begin with the Address to a Haggis in the medieval crypt, followed by a three-course meal with wine and whisky in the regal Victorian dining room.
Friday 25 January, 7pm; tickets £45
West End art centre Òran Mór will be hosting a traditional Scottish celebration complete with piper, haggis and tatties. Upon arrival, guests will be led through the venue’s bell tower entrance where they will be greeted with a warming dram. A three-course meal follows in the grand auditorium, accompanied by live music.
Saturday 26 January, 7pm; tickets £45
As might be expected, Edinburgh is going all out for the 260th anniversary of Rabbie’s birth, with a six-day festival dedicated to all things Burns. Burns & Beyond kicks off with an event called Museum of the Moon at the city’s St Giles’ Cathedral, which features performances from Roddy Woomble, Rachel Sermanni and the St Giles’ Cathedral Choir. Family events include a free family Ceilidh and a Rabbie Ramble incorporating facts about the man himself. A Burns supper with poetry and a ceilidh, a culture trail and whisky tasting are some of the other events on offer.
Monday 21-Saturday 26 January; costs vary, check the website for details
Top ceilidh band Angels of the North will be keeping guests happy at the Life Science Museum, as part of a traditional dinner accompanied by a dram and plenty of dancing.
Friday 25 January, 7pm; tickets £32.50
Whisky evangelists The Whisky Lounge will be holding a series of whisky tasting events across the UK to celebrate Burns Night. In Liverpool, The Fly in the Loaf pub will host a night where guests can enjoy a selection of six handpicked whiskies, accompanied by a feast of haggis, neeps and tatties. Similar events are also happening in York and Sheffield.
Wednesday 23 January, 7pm; tickets £30
The Brighton Ceilidh Collective is hosting a “fun, not formal” Burns Night bash, which includes haggis, piper, poems and “wild ceilidh dancing”. Tickets are only available to buy until 15 January, so move quickly if you want to join the fun.
Friday 25 January, 8pm; tickets £20
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