Are you ready to celebrate Burns night?

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Pour the whisky, get the haggis in the oven, and grab some Scottish poetry. Burns night is upon us!

If your dry January resolve is waning, or if you never had any in the first place, make sure you celebrate Burns night on 25 January! 2017 is Scotland’s year of history, heritage and archaeology, so it’s the ideal time to discover some of the traditions and customs linked to famed Scottish poet Robert Burns.

How do you throw a Burns Supper (officially)?

Burns night supper

1. To start – everyone gathers, the host says a few words, everyone sits and the Selkirk Grace is said.

2. The meal – the starter is served, perhaps cock-a-leekie, the haggis is piped in, the host performs Address to a Haggis, everyone toasts the haggis and the main meal is served, followed by dessert, often Cranachan.

3. After the meal – the first Burns recital is performed, the Immortal Memory (the main tribute speech to Burns) is given, the second Burns recital is performed, then there’s a Toast to the Lassies, followed by a Reply to the Toast to the Lassies, before the final Burns recital is performed.

4. To end the night – the host gives a vote of thanks, everyone stands and sings Auld Lang Syne, crossing their arms and joining hands at the line ‘And there's a hand, my trusty fere!’.

How do you throw a Burns Supper (unofficially)?

Burns night party

In truth, you can follow as much or as little of this running order as you like.  You can even make your own additions– hold a quiz, add a ceilidh, include a treasure hunt – the most important thing is that everyone gets in the spirit and has a great night!

Master a few Burns quotes to wow your guests:

‘There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing.’


‘The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,

Gang aft agley.’


‘But to see her was to love her,

Love but her, and love forever.’


For further recipe inspiration, ideas on how to perfect your toast, plus more on the main man himself, check out VisitScotland’s handy Burns Night Guide

Visiting Scotland for Burns night?  Take part in these top Burns events:

Big Burns Supper, Dumfries & Galloway, 20 – 29 January 2017

The Big Burns Supper is the world’s biggest Burns Night celebration over ten days.  Highlights include the return of Le Haggis - an Interactive Haggis Hunt, performances from over 40 artists including the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Nicola Bendetti and Lulu and the Festival of Light project.

Burns Unbound, Edinburgh, 22 January 2017

Celebrate the poetry and legacy of Robert Burns at the National Museum of Scotland with a packed programme of creative activities and performances at Burns Unbound. Learn to ceilidh dance, get crafty and discover some braw Burns poetry!

Alloway 1759, Ayrshire, throughout January

Celebrate the Bard’s birthday in his birthplace of Alloway with a special programme of events taking place around Burns Cottage and surrounding landmarks at Alloway 1759.  Journey into Burns Alicht, a sparkling Burns birthplace tour featuring special illuminations bringing landmarks to life. And not forgetting the World Haggis Hurling Championships!

Some Robert Burns facts:

Robert Burns was born on 25 January 1759 in Alloway in Ayrshire

Despite his short life, he died at 37, Burns left a huge catalogue of poetry and songs that have been poured over, enjoyed and spoken aloud for over 200 years

Burns penned his first poem age 15

In his personal life, Burns dedicated hundreds of  lines of verse to women and went on to father 12 children, 9 to his wife Jean Armour

For all his fame, Burns never forgot his humble roots. His love for farming stayed with him throughout his life and his writing often dealt with issues affecting the poorer classes, notably highlighting the need for greater social equality

The first Burns supper was held in July 1801 when nine of Burns’ close friends got together to mark the fifth anniversary of their friend’s death. Taking place at Burns Cottage in Alloway, the night included a tasty meal (haggis, of course!), performances of Burns’ work and a speech in honour of the great Bard (now known as the Immortal Memory).

The night was such a resounding success they decided to hold it again (this time in honour of Rabbie’s Burns’ birthday), beginning the tradition we still enjoy to this day.

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