How to celebrate Burns Night

From Edinburgh to London, the best places to mark Robert Burns’ birthday on 25 January

Image courtesy of South Place Hotel

On 25 January, Scots and Scots-at-heart will come together to mark the birthday of Robert Burns with haggis, ceilidhs, poetry and parties. Whether you’re travelling north or staying in the capital for the event, here’s our guide to the UK’s best celebrations.


Where better to celebrate Burns Night than in the birthplace of Scotland’s very own national poet? The Alloway 1759 festival honours the life of Robert Burns with a busy programme of events, including a celebratory supper at Burns Cottage on 25 January, complete with piper, toasts, recitations, music and speeches. There’s also Burns Alicht, an illuminated evening tour of the cottage and its surroundings, and the Burns Big Birthday Bash, a family day on Sunday 28 January that includes the much-anticipated World Haggis Hurling Competition.


Image courtesy of Ghillie Dhu

Ghillie Dhu, a traditional Scottish bar and restaurant in the heart of Edinburgh, will host its Rabbie Burns Experience (19 to 28 January), which includes the traditional presentation of the haggis to an accompaniment of piping and poetry, plus a four-course feast with Scottish classics such as oxtail soup and cranachan panna cotta. There’s family fun to be had at the National Museum of Scotland, whose day-long ‘Burns Unbound’ festival on 21 January combines craft activities with music and theatre.


Image: Rita Platts/courtesy of Dunstane Houses 

In the west end, the Dunstane Houses are hosting a celebration on Friday 26 January that includes a welcome whisky cocktail, a Scottish feast, poetry recitals and live folk music and dancing. There’s the option to attend the party only or to stay overnight in one of the two Victorian townhouses’ 35 boutique rooms, 16 of which have been newly refurbished.    


Image courtesy of Malmaison

Whisky-lovers should head to Malmaison Glasgow for an interactive whisky masterclass and three-course Scottish dinner on 25 January, while those who prefer lager may enjoy a jaunt to Wellpark Brewery for haggis, neeps and tatties accompanied by a pint of Tennents (there’s time to stop off for a dram, too). At the Lorne Hotel, the charitable organisation Gaia for Women is holding a Burns Supper to celebrate the poet’s love of women, with live music from the Scottish singer-songwriter Horse McDonald. 


Image courtesy of Fortnum & Mason

Head to Fortnum & Mason’s The Gallery restaurant for a four-course meal featuring Scottish smoked salmon, haggis, cranachan and Caledonian cheeses, all served with excellent wine and whisky; or visit Galvin Bistrot de Luxe for a six-course banquet – think Cullen skink, haggis and Ecclefechan tart – with the option of enjoying Glenmorangie whisky pairings. Boisdale’s four restaurants will serve traditional Burns Night dinners good enough to transport you to the Scottish Highlands, with dishes including Orkney salmon, Hebridean crab, red deer and dry-aged beef fillet. At South Place hotel diners can enjoy cock-a-leekie soup, traditional dressed haggis for two and cranachan cheesecake, plus optional paired beers. 

Image courtesy of Compass Box

Craft London’s Stevie Parle has teamed up with the Scotch whisky maker Compass Box to host a Burns Night celebration that will kick off with a welcome cocktail of Asyla whisky and grapefruit tonic, followed by a four-course feast including wood-grilled langoustines, haggis with whisky sauce, and a chocolate and salted caramel beignet.  



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