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The birthday of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national bard, will not go unrecognised this year as a number of virtual events have been planned to celebrate the occasion.
Celebrated by people around the world, Burns Night takes place on Monday January 25 and is traditionally enjoyed with music and entertainment and a meal of haggis, neeps and tatties and a wee dram of whisky.
This year, owing to restrictions, those with a love for Scotland and the bard can still mark the big night by enjoying a host of virtual Burns celebrations and suppers, including: Dumfries’ famous Big Burns Supper – with comedy, music and entertainment – going digital for the first time; the National Trust for Scotland’s Big Burns Night In, streaming live from Robert Burns Cottage in Alloway; as well as haggis producer Macsween’s plans for the largest virtual Burns Supper.
Arran’s own Lamlash Burns Club, which is affiliated with the Robert Burns World Federation, has confirmed that it will be unable to host any event this year for obvious reasons but chairman Douglas Auld encouraged members and everyone else to celebrate in their own houses.
He also confirmed that 2022 would be a special anniversary dinner that would more than make up for the 2021 absence.
VisitScotland has compiled a list of events to enjoy and if anyone is planning a small celebration in their home a number of Burns Night resources can also be downloaded from the websites visitscotland.com/burns and scotland.org/burns
January 15 – February 2
The world-famous Celtic Connections is going digital for the first time. Across 19 days, including Burns Night – performances are available to view online with some of the biggest names on the Scottish music scene and beyond appearing on screens across the world as part of the winter festival.
Ticket prices vary across the dates and a full programme of events and details of how to book can be found at www.celticconnections.com
Burns Big Night In (with National Trust for Scotland)
January 23, 7pm – 8.30pm
This special virtual event will present music from Scottish folk band Talisk, a cocktail masterclass courtesy of The Glenlivet, some exclusive insights into the life of Robert Burns from the experts, plus some special guests who’ll bring the traditional Burns supper to life with recitation, including the world-famous Address To A Haggis.
Ticket prices from £18 per person. Further information and bookings can be made at www.nts.org.uk/stories/burns-big-night-in
Big Burns Supper
January 25, 7pm
Scotland’s largest contemporary Burns celebration Big Burns Supper goes digital for the first time in 2021.
Marking the festival’s 10th anniversary, Janey Godley’s Big Burns Supper dishes up a special broadcast connecting Scotland to the world with contributions from local, national and international artists to help celebrate Burns Night in a way that helps give everyone a much-needed lift and a laugh.
Broadcast free of charge across Big Burns Supper’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, the 75-minute digital broadcast welcomes back a cracking selection of artists including KT Tunstall, Dougie Maclean, Donovan, Tide Lines and Skerryvore, who have performed at the festival over the last 10 years.
Scots comic Janey Godley will host from her own living room as she prepares a Burns supper while introducing guests and festival friends throughout the evening.
Festival favourites Le Haggis will also be making an appearance providing burlesque, comedy and mayhem.
The event is free and further information can be found at //bigburnssupper.com/
Macsween Burns Supper
January 25, 7pm
Edinburgh-based haggis brand Macsween is aiming to bring (possibly) the largest virtual Burns Supper to homes across the globe. Teaming up with Scottish comedy actor Karen Dunbar, alongside Dr Rachel Barrie, master blender for Benriach distillery and described as the first lady of Scotch whisky, the event will be aired on Macsween’s Facebook page at 7pm.
The event will be broadcast on www.facebook.com/MacsweenHaggis, and anyone can join in the fun for free.
January 23 -25
Burns&Beyond with Johnnie Walker returns in 2021, celebrating the life and legacy of Robert Burns through traditional and contemporary art and culture from across Scotland and Beyond.
Set against a theme of love, hope and kindness, Burns&Beyond 2021 presents a free online programme of live music and poetry from Lucky Middlemass’s Tavern, curated by both Aidan O’Rourke (Lau) and arts collective Neu! Reekie!, a series of online performances to help everyone celebrate their very own Burns Night at home and an online celebration of the Burns Collection at the National Museum of Scotland. Following a sell-out appearance at last year’s festival, which helped to raise over £10,000 for charity, KT Tunstall returns with a special online Burns&Beyond performance of Ae Fond Kiss.
For the full programme visit www.burnsandbeyond.com
Burns Night Ceilidh with the Nest Collective
January 25, 8pm – 9:30pm, live on YouTube
Dust off those dancing shoes with a free live Ceilidh from the Nest Collective. Join in for a night bedecked in tartan and Tam o’ Shanters, with whisky flowing and floorboards shaking, all in celebration of Burns.
Host Sam Lee will guide viewers through the evening. Dance along at home to a live ceilidh band (with Covid-safe demonstration dancers), listen to contributions from special guest musicians, and enjoy the Burns ceremony itself.
The event is free and registration is at //thenestcollective.co.uk/events/burns-night-2021/
SBH Scotland – World’s Biggest Burns
January 25, 7pm
Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus (SBH) Scotland has joined forces with Grant’s Haggis and Endura to bring the world together for one special hour of big Burns and entertainment. The event will be broadcast on the organisation’s YouTube and Facebook channels. The celebration of Burns includes performances from comedians Janey Godley and Fred MacAuley as well as the world’s leading Robert Burns performer, Christ Tait, as well as Travis front man, Fran Healy.
This is a free event and registration is at www.sbhscotland.org.uk/content/burns/
Burns Feast delivered
January 25, 28, 7pm – 8.30pm
Celebrate Burns Night with Glasgow Distillery and Once Upon a Whisky. Guests who buy tickets for the online tastings can try five premium whiskies from the Glasgow Distillery Company (which are home delivered) and discover all the secrets behind the first whisky distillery in Glasgow in over 100 years.
Tickets are £35 and can be booked at https://onceuponawhisky.co.uk/guided-tours/online-whisky-tasting/
More information about Burns, his life, legacy, and exploring his story in Scotland can be found at www.visitscotland.com/burns