Enjoy Burns Night with a visit to the land of the Scottish bard
Scotland is stunning at any time of the year but raising a dram there on Burns Night offers a special kind of celebration. Mark the anniversary of Robert Burns birth, one of the most celebrated Scots, with a trip you’ll never forget.
“Some hae meat and canna eat, / And some wad eat that want it, / But we hae meat and we can eat, / And sae the Lord be thankit.”
What is Burns Night?
Born in Ayrshire in 1759, Robert Burns – also known as Rabbie Burns – is Scotland's national bard. Affectionately known as 'the Ploughman Poet', his verses stand as a fitting testament to Scotland's proud literary history.
Burns Night is a celebration of the man, his life, and his work. On 25 January – Burn’s birthday - Scots and Scots-at-heart gather around the world to pay tribute to the great poet, enjoying night of verse, song, haggis and whisky, with fun and laughter along the way. And there’s no better place to experience it other than in Scotland itself.
How Burns Night came to be
This long-standing tradition first began back in July 1801 at Burns Cottage in Alloway. There, nine of Robert Burn’s closest friends got together to make the fifth anniversary of his death. They performed some of his finest work, make a speech in his honour (known as the Immortal Memory), ate a delicious meal of haggis, and enjoyed a whiskey or two along the way. The evening was such a resounding success that they planned another – this time in honour of his birthday. Thus, the tradition now enjoyed by people in Scotland and all over the world began.
Today, the holiday is marked by festivities across Scotland and the entire Scottish nation rises to the occasion. From Burns suppers in restaurants and pubs, to whisky tastings, poetry recitals and singsongs wherever you go, you’ll be sure to receive a warm welcome – whether you can sing or not.
What to expect at a Burns Night Supper
One of the best ways to celebrate Burns Night is to enjoy a traditional ‘Burns Night Supper’. Depending on where in Scotland you eat, you’ll experience something a little bit different, but generally, the format passed down for many years follows a similar vein.
To begin the evening, everyone gathers, the host thanks them for attending and the ‘Selkirk Grace’ is said. Next comes the meal. After the starter, the haggis arrives, accompanied by bagpipes and a recital of the famous Burns Night haggis poem ‘Address to a Haggis’. After toasting the haggis, the main meal is served, and then dessert.
Then there are recitals, remembering Burns’ wonderful work. Firstly, a singer or musician performs a Burns song or poem. Then comes the ‘Immortal Memory’, a captivating speech celebrating his life. More Burns poetry or singing entertainment follows. Next comes the humorous highlight of the night; a ‘Toast to the Lassies’ based on a selected Burns quote praising the role of women in the world today. Then there are final recitals of more Burns songs and poetry before the ‘Reply to the Toast to the Lassies’ – with the ladies offering their reply to the earlier speech. The night ends after several toasts of whisky with everyone linking hands and arms for a rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Apparently, Robert Burns himself wasn’t adverse to a party, so the main aim across the evening is to enjoy and have fun!
A Scottish Celebration
Sadly, Robert Burns died at the relatively young age of 37. But his memory, works and spirit live on in a land that’s fiercely proud of his heritage and contribution to Scotland.
If you’re keen to experience Burns Night in the land of the great man’s birth, then there are many events happening all across Scotland. Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perthshire, Aberdeen and Dumfries and the South of Scotland all have festivities planned, from music festivals, art and performances to highland dancing, whiskey tasting and more. Book a 3-Day Edinburgh Tour from London via train to find yourself well and truly entering into the spirit of the festivities.
Burns and Scotland, anytime.
The essence of Robert Burns lives in Scotland across the year, not just on Burns Night.
Enjoy memorable trip in any season to the Highlands, dive into the deep history of Scotland, like taking a tour of Culloden with the Private Scottish Highlands Full-Day Tour, or experience a vibrant Edinburgh in August during the Fringe festival and the Military Tattoo.
Whenever you decide to visit, Scotland has so much to offer the inquisitive, the curious, the culture vulture, the adventurer, and the lover of nature. Its heritage runs deep, and the passion of its people runs even deeper.
Read more: What to drink on Burns Night
Read more: How to make delicious vegan haggis
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