Robert Burns's cottage in Alloway
Robert Burns's cottage in Alloway

Alloway to host Robert Burns festival this summer

Live music, performances and events will mark the anniversary of the first Burns Supper.

The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and cottage is hosting a five-day festival this summer to mark the 220th anniversary of the first Burns Supper.

The Burns Two Twenty Festival in Alloway will feature day and evening activities for Burns enthusiasts of all ages, including a range of free events and will begin on July 21, the anniversary of the first ever Burns supper.

The festival is run by the National Trust for Scotland, who care for the museum and cottage and other landmarks linked to the poet in Alloway, including the Auld Kirk, Burns Monument and iconic Brig o’ Doon.

The festival will include an exciting outdoor and craft programme, then the same smallholding area transformed in the evening for a Summer Supper, pub night with interactive games and a comedy evening with Des Clarke.

While Burns Suppers are today observed on the poet’s birthday on January 25, the first ever supper was held on the fifth anniversary of his death on July 21 1801 by friends in the cottage where he was born and the festival will mark this anniversary.

Robert Burns’s cottage in Alloway

Events manager at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Lauren McKenzie, said: ‘We have been keen to put on an event at the cottage site, particularly since we weren’t really able to properly mark the completion of the new thatched roof last year due to Covid restrictions.

‘This will be the first time that we have been able to really hold an event there and mark a significant anniversary, the 220th anniversary of the first Burns Supper.

‘The festival begins on July 21 with the Summer Supper, held within a marquee in the smallholding on the site of the Cottage, where the first Burns supper took place. We will have a top table of speakers and the traditional recitals but not in quite as formal a delivery and format as your usual Burns night – we certainly hope it won’t be a dark, dreich night that we normally have in January!

‘The marquee will be situated in the smallholding and have open sides, so you will very much be in the land where the Burns family farmed. We are really able to bring in that view of the cottage and the whole surrounding landscape and take advantage of it.’

Lauren added: ‘The marquee will also host the Burns Heid Inn night, which is a nod to the cottage’s long and interesting history. The cottage was an ale house for over 80 years and was visited by famous people including the poet, John Keats. On Friday July 23 we are hosting a pub night, supplying local craft beers by the Ayrshire Brewing Company who have produced themed beers based on Burns, his life and stories.’

Family events are an integral part of Two Twenty Festival with staff running a range of classes and activities which are completely free to attend. But, like all festival events, advance booking is essential.

The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

Lauren continued: ‘The festival will have something for everyone and during the day we will have outdoor classes and activities, different craft sessions and things for people to do. Every day will be different, and you must book into these sessions which last for an hour and a half.

‘This allows us to clean and sanitise between bookings and we will be running at a reduced capacity to ensure that social distancing is followed. The first session of each day will be a relaxed session with no background noise and further reduced capacity to cater to those with additional support needs.

‘The whole festival is really exciting for us. Just to have that buzz around the site will be great. But pre-booking is essential. We need to prepare and monitor capacity and if you do come on the day there are no guarantees. You really need to book in advance.’

The Two Twenty Festival at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum comes in the midst of the National Trust for Scotland’s ongoing campaign, I love this place, which celebrates the personal connections people have with the properties and places the charity cares for as we emerge from lockdown. The campaign urges people to support the National Trust for Scotland and help protect the places we all love by becoming a member at

To book and find out more information on the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and cottage, visit: