Everything you need to know about Burns Night

The 25 January is the day when Scots everywhere raise a glass to their national poet Robert Burns. Even if you’re not Scottish, it’s a good excuse to unashamedly wear some tartan and maybe have a dram of whisky. Here’s the lowdown on what to expect on Burns Night 2019 from Edinburgh to London.


What is Burns Night?

It’s an evening of revelry to celebrate the birth of Scottish bard Robert - or ‘Rabbie’ - Burns. The tradition started a few years after his death in 1796 when a bunch of his pals got together to remember him. Now Burns Night is celebrated every year. Most people mark it with a Burns Supper – think hearty Scottish grub and rousing speeches.

What’s involved?

Whisky, haggis and poetry readings mainly. A traditional Burns Supper starts with a Scotch broth or cock-a-leekie soup. It’s followed by a haggis served with neeps and tatties (turnips, swedes and potatoes). The haggis is ceremonially piped in by the diners with a standing slow handclap. After the meal, the Immortal Memory toast is made in tribute to the great man.

The evening ends with the singing of one of Burns’ most popular works, Auld Lang Syne.  Try remembering the rest of the verse when you’ve had a few drams. “Should auld acquaintance be forgot…”

What to wear...

Anything tartan basically. From kilts, waistcoats and tartan trousers to ties, socks, sashes and tights. A more formal Burns Night supper ceremony may require the full Highland get-up for men and a posh frock for the ladies. If you’re strutting your stuff on the dance floor, wear something comfy – and preferably something under your kilt.


Where to celebrate Burns Night Supper


Get ceilidh'd away at a Burns Night dinner

WhereRoyal Botanical Garden
When: 25 January

Celebrate in style at the Royal Botanic Gardens for this fabulous Burns Night dinner. Start the evening with a Hot Toddy, followed by a traditional Scottish three course dinner, address to the haggis and ceilidh band!

Red, Red Rose Street

Where: Rose Street
When: 22-27 January

Enjoy a week of theatre and comedy including the Rabbie Ramble trail which invites families to discover clues and Rabbie facts throughout Rose Street. A Rabbie Ramble Trail map will be available from Burns Bothy (Castle Street) with a wee prize for anyone who returns to show their answers. There’s also a free family Ceilidh too!

Book your travel to Edinburgh


Burns Night London 2019

When: 19, 25, 26, January & 2 February

Banish those winter blues with three hours of dancing, poetry, drinking and stuffing your face with haggisThe Ceilidh Club’s live band promises to keep you on your toes. In between the dancing, the haggis will be addressed (if you’re puzzled, Burns wrote a poem about it). At the end of the night everyone will link arms to belt out Auld Lang Syne.

An evening of Whisky tasting

Several Scottish bars in the capital will be hosting Burns events. Here's our top three choices:

  • Head to Soho whisky specialist Milroy’s for a wee dram or tasting flight (from £25 per person). There’ll be scotch from the Highlands, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown.
  • Boisdale will be going tartan crazy at its London restaurants. Book for an evening of the finest Scottish delicacies 
  • Black Rock whisky bar in Shoreditch is a unique and intimate venue and a great way to celebrate Burns Night with friends or that special someone.

Scottish street food

Where: Deeney's, east London

If you want to dip your toe in the Burns celebrations without going the whole hog, why not try some Scottish delicacies this January? Deeney’s in east London is serving up haggis, Cullen skink and more. Try the Hamish Macbeth - hot haggis, smoked bacon, cheddar, caramelised onion, mustard and rocket (£5-£7 per toastie).

Book your travel to London


Thanks to Visit Scotland for the images.