Burns Night is not far away, and a host of events are taking place over the coming week to mark the occasion.
Celebrated annually on Robert Burns’ birthday, 25 January, Burns Night gathers Scots and Scots-at-heart around the world to pay tribute to the great poet’s life and works.
This year, the event is being marked by a jam-packed programme of festivities across the country, and VisitScotland has highlighted some of the best.
Red, Red Rose Street Festival, 25-27 January, various venues, Edinburgh.
Red, Red Rose Street Festival returns to the city centre in January 2018 with an even bigger and better programme of events. Focused around Rose Street, the Burns celebrations will include a Burns Supper, two family ceilidhs, The Burns Comedy Club, Captivate Theatre’s musical of the life of Rabbie and animations and activities along the street over three days. Free workshops for all ages include instruction in Scottish Dancing, Burns Poetry and Making Speeches – just in time for the Burns festivities.
Price: Various. www.redredrosestreet.co.uk
Burns’ Cottage in Alloway
Big Burns Supper, until 28 January, various venues, Dumfries and Galloway.
Big Burns Supper is Scotland’s landmark Burns Night event which takes place in Dumfries and features a heady mixture of cabaret, comedy, music and entertainment in over 30 different venues as the town goes bonkers for 11 days of winter magic.
Price: From £10.00. www.bigburnssupper.com
Café Ceilidh: Burns Celebration, 23 January, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh.
Join the Scots Music Group for an afternoon session of traditional songs, music, poems and stories celebrating Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns. Held in the relaxed setting of the Storytelling Court.
Price: Free. www.tracscotland.org
Big Burns Stramash, 25–27 January, Eden Court, Inverness.
The Big Burns Stramash 2018 is all about young people; comprising of a variety of different events to suit those from toddlers to those who are very nearly grown-ups. This will get the national Year of Young People off to a bang in the Highlands
Price: From £10.00. www.eventscotland.org
Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns
Burns Unbound, 21 January, The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.
Celebrate the poetry and legacy of Robert Burns with a packed programme of creative activities and performances. Learn to ceilidh dance, enjoy live music and discover some braw Burns poetry.
Price: Free. www.nms.ac.uk
Burns Alicht, 27 January, Burns Cottage, Alloway.
The Robert Burns Museum will be open throughout the night for ticket holders to come and go anytime between 6pm and 11pm. There will be a programme of entertainment, food and drink on sale. The Robertson’s Room Bar will be open and there will be children’s crafts on offer.
Tours start at Burns Cottage and this special evening concludes with a finale burning of John Barleycorn to the sound of tribal drums. To celebrate Scotland’s Year of Young People a limited number of free tickets are available for this event for people aged eight-26.
Price: £5-£7. www.burnsfestival.com
The famous World Haggis Hurling Competition will be held at Burns Cottage
Meanwhile, the event is being marked by BBC Radio Scotland.
The first is The Death and Resurrection of Robert Burns, on Thursday, from 1.30–2pm.
Keara Murphy explores the strange afterlife of Robert Burns who was not allowed to rest peacefully in his grave for long and whose afterlife was more eventful than many people might think.
Phrenologists, spiritualists and worthy admirers all wanted a piece of the post-mortem Burns – sometimes literally. He was disinterred twice, including his skull being taken for a midnight walk to a plasterer’s workshop in the cause of phrenology.
Dr Megan Coyer of Glasgow University explains all, Professor David Price of Edinburgh University examines the plaster cast of the skull with us and BBC Scotland’s poet in residence Stuart Paterson contemplates the afterlife of Scotland’s bard with some verse of his own.
Investigating Burns’ alleged afterlife in 1850s Yorkshire, People’s Historian Dan Gray introduces us to the Keighley Spiritualists and the terrible poems they claimed they’d channelled from Rabbie himself. Had he really taken up temperance and lost his Scots tongue in Yorkshire? Clearly you can’t keep a good poet down – because as a séance favourite he pops up all over the place.
Later that evening, from 9.05–10.55pm, spend Burns Night with Jamie MacDougall in the company of two award-winning groups, live from the CCA Glasgow.
BBC Radio 2 Musician of the Year singer and harpist Rachel Newton performs with her trio that includes Lauren MacColl on fiddle and Mattie Foulds on percussion.
The night culminates in a dynamic set of tunes from Talisk Trio with concertina player Mohsen Amini – Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2016, fiddle player Hayley Keenan and guitarist Graeme Armstrong. A Burns Night without poetry from the Bard himself would be a sair fecht, so readings and musings on the night come from BBC Scotland’s poet in residence Stuart Paterson.