Scotland prepares for Burns Night

Simone Waters takes a look at how Scots are getting ready to celebrate Burns Night, from classic suppers to aerial acrobatics.

THERE’S more to Burns Night than haggis and whisky. Scots around the country are preparing to mark national poet Robert Burns’ birthday on 25 January in a wide variety of ways.

Notching up 12 years and counting, the Big Burns Supper at Loreburn Hall in Dumfries returns, but this time using its “Le Haggis” festival as a teaser ahead of the big day. Featuring an array of talent, the events begin this evening and continue tomorrow, next Friday, and next Saturday.

Circus performers, acrobats, and aerial artists will be accompanied by the sound of music created and performed by the band Ho-Ro and Dumfries Community Choir. There will also be shows featuring international cabaret artists and more musical acts, including The Bootleg Beatles tribute band. A more family-focused edition will also be presented on 15 and 22 January.

In a survey carried out by VisitScotland ahead of this year’s celebrations, Burns’ “To a Mouse” was selected as Scotland’s favourite poem in Scots. “It’s so important that our children still read Burns… and that language that is so rich and vibrant can’t be lost,” explained actor James Cosmo, who recorded the poem for the tourism body.

“It’s way too important. It’s what brings us together; it has a warmth and a beauty about it that can’t be replicated.”

Reciting another Burns poem, “Address to a Haggis”, is a common occurrence before the supper. However, if a night of no cooking is appealing then Dumfries’ Cairndale Hotel is hosting a traditional celebration tomorrow. The event promises music, poetry, and dancing in the town where the Bard himself spent his last years.

Also offering a dinner in honour of the poet is Troon restaurant The Rabbit. The menu is a love letter between Indian cookery and classic Scottish cuisine, with well-known chef Sagar Massey fusing the flavours during the two days before Burns Night.

On 25 January, he will be joined in the kitchen by Masterchef: The Professionals winner Derek Johnstone. Together, they plan to create “a one-of-a-kind dining experience for guests”. Johnstone also designed the menu for the Burns Supper that will be served in his “18 Restaurant” at the Rusacks Hotel in St Andrews, accompanied by Bowmore whisky.

Another cooking collaboration will be hosted in Aberdeen. Here, award-winning chef Glynn Purnell will join his peer, Kevin Dalgleish, at the latter’s restaurant, Amuse. Glynn is coming for the “Brummie Burns Supper” from his Michelin-starred eatery in Birmingham. Together they will serve a six-course meal, divided between the two chefs, and using premium Scottish seasonal produce. Glenfiddich will also be serving its whisky.

Read more news and reviews on Scottish Field’s culture pages.

Plus, don’t miss musician Phil Cunningham’s credo in the February issue of Scottish Field magazine.