Burns Night and the best Burns Suppers in Edinburgh

Wander through Edinburgh towards the end of January and you’ll spot numerous adverts for Burns Suppers.

Writes Barry Stephen

Traditionally, they involve haggis, neeps and tatties (mashed swede and potatoes) being served alongside whisky used to toast the haggis and the memory of Robert Burns.

According to tradition, the haggis is piped into the dining room by a bagpiper dressed in full regalia.

The haggis is ceremonially cut while the Burn’s poem, Address to a Haggis, is being recited.

That work begins:

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,

Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin-race!

Scottish wildlife? A squirrel nibbling food in Princes Street Park in central Edinburgh.

Scottish wildlife? A squirrel nibbling food in Princes Street Park in central Edinburgh.

What is Burns Night?

Burns Night is annual commemoration of the life and works of Robert Burns. It is held on the anniversary of his birthday, the 25 January, and has become the occasion of social gatherings.

Burns Suppers are a reason for people to gather celebrate his work. The eating and drinking of traditional Scottish produce is an integral part of the evening.

The event is celebrated across the world by people of Scottish descent.

You could always head into a pub and raise a dram or two. This pub is named after a criminal hanged in Edinburgh in 1788.

You could always head into a pub and raise a dram or two. This pub on the Royal Mile is named after a criminal hanged in Edinburgh in 1788.

Who was Robert Burns?

Robert Burns was a Scotsman who lived from 1759 to 1796.

Also known as Robbie and Rabbie, Burns worked as a farmer then as an exciseman. His talent for writing poetry means he is celebrated as a literary figure. He wrote his poems in his local dialect and is widely acknowledged as Scotland’s national poet.

He was born in Alloway, a couple of miles south of Ayr, on Scotland’s west coast. The cottage in which he entered the world is now a museum, managed by the National Trust for Scotland. The Burns Cottage is a thatched property.

His poems were published in his lifetime and he became known as ‘the ploughman poet’.

Burns died in Dumfries aged just 37. The house in which he lived towards the end of his life, now known as the Burns House, is maintained as a free-to-visit museum.

Ian McIntyre’s biography, Robert Burns: A Life provides further background and context (£):

Which Burns’ poems might I know?

Thanks to renditions being sung as part of New Year’s Eve celebrations—the event known as Hogmanay in Scotland—Auld Lang Syne is one of Burns’ best-known poems.

In total the Bard of Ayrshire penned more than 200 poems, including Tam O’Shanter, To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest With the Plough and Address to the Deil.

You can find them all in Robert Burns, the Complete Poetical Works (£):

Burns Suppers in Edinburgh

Burns Suppers will be held in venues including:

The Pantry (1 North West Circus Place; tel. 0131 629 0206)

The Royal Yacht Britannia (Leith Docks; tel. 0131 555 5566) on 26 and 27 January 2018.

The Tower Restaurant (National Museum of Scotland; tel. 0131 225 3003).

A view of Edinburgh Castle in the centre of Edinburgh, Scotland.

A view of Edinburgh Castle in the centre of Edinburgh, Scotland. Will you be heading out to celebrate Burns Night?

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