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Top 5 Ways to Celebrate Burns Night in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Emily May

Let’s face it, January is one of the worst months of the year. With all the festivities of Christmas and New Year done and dusted, the continuing cold weather, and the prospect of going back to work on the horizon, there’s little to redeem it.

So, to brighten up your January, why not head up to Edinburgh or Glasgow on 25th to take part in Burns Night? An annual Scottish ritual celebrating the birthday of the country’s most famous poet (Robert Burns), Burns Night is the perfect way to ward off the post Christmas blues… and the perfect excuse to drink lots of whisky. Check out our handy guide to find out some of the best ways to celebrate the Bard of Ayrshire’s birthday two of Scotland's major cities. 


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Experience cultural fusion at Burns & Beyond festival

Did you know that in 2020, Burns Night and Chinese New Year both fall on 25 January? To celebrate the serendipitous collision, Burns & Beyond festival (an annual two-week festival, this year running between 21 January and 9 February) in Edinburgh has teamed up with Chinese New Year Festivals to produce a special programme of events offering unique opportunities for cultural exchange between Scottish and Chinese traditions. From an installation of 400 Chinese lanterns at St. Giles Cathedral to themed whisky, beer, and food tastings, exhibitions of Burns’ poems alongside Chinese calligraphy to bilingual ceilidhs, there’s a wide range of exciting and unusual activities for everyone to take part in. 

Put on your dancing shoes and ceilidh the night away

What better way to celebrate Burns’ birthday than to dance the night away in a pub he once frequented himself? Head over to The Counting House in Edinburgh’s Old Town on 25th to be entertained by the Annasach Ceilidh Band, who will be performing traditional Scottish music for you to jig to with your friends. If you’ve never been to a ceilidh before, don’t panic, as beginners are welcome and will be shown the steps to traditional set dances by a friendly dance caller. Ceilidhing is hungry work, so as part of the evening you’ll also be treated to an authentic Scottish supper of haggis, neeps and tatties (vegetarian options are also available), and of course, a complementary dram of Famous Grouse.

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Learn more about the man behind the mayhem

Want to find out more about why everyone is celebrating this Burns fella? Head over to Edinburgh Castle for “Burns for Beginners”. Showing at various times between 25-31 January, this light hearted performance will give you an introduction to Robert Burns’ life and work. The price of the show is included in the general castle admission, so it’s also the perfect opportunity to take a look around one of Edinburgh’s most famous landmarks.

Get a wee bit tipsy at an interactive whisky tasting

It wouldn’t be a Burns Night without a dram of whisky, or two, or three, or four… If you want to spend the 25 January tasting a multitude of fine scotch, head over to the Radisson RED hotel in Glasgow for an interactive whisky tasting session. Hosted by Scotch Whisky specialist Douglas Laing & Co, it's the perfect opportunity to learn more about one of Scotland’s finest delicacies… and get a wee bit tipsy in the process. (Don’t panic! There will be a Scottish themed tasting menu to help you line your stomach.)

Get creative at a Bum’s Night (no, it’s not a typo!)

Robert Burns was a renowned poet, so what better way to honour his memory by letting your juices flow at a Scottish themed life drawing class? Head over to The Buff Low Cafe in Glasgow on 25 January for “Bum’s Night”, where you will be provided with paper and pencils and tasked with depicting the self-confessed “true Scotsman” you see before whilst listening to a specially selected Scottish soundtrack. Tickets include all materials, one drink, a selection of hot and cold scottish snacks, and free entry to the Buff Club for those who wish to take the night into the wee hours! All money raised from the night will go towards St. Mary’s Hospice. 

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