And so, the festive season comes to an end, and all around the world a time of peace and quiet commences… except in Scotland. Now comes the time when Scotland comes together to celebrate their most eminent poet, Robert Burns: an icon who has loomed large in Scottish culture and consciousness ever since his early death at the age of 37. Arguably his best-known work is the song Auld Lang Syne: a long-established feature of New Year celebrations in every corner of the world settled by the Scottish diaspora (so basically every corner of the world).
Whether you’re a lifelong Burnsian (genuinely a real thing, look it up), or a Burns Beginner, this list of events and experiences should have you donning your clan’s tartan and blessing the Haggis in no time!
1. The Ghosting of Rabbie Burns at The Gilded Balloon
Heartbroken author Emily Winters takes herself away to her aunt’s old cottage in Ayrshire to get over her cheating ex – as you do. As she celebrates Burns night alone, wishing that the right man would show up, she gets a visitation slightly different than what she’d hoped for – the ghost of Rabbie Burns (John Kielty) appears to give her some dating advice… and he knows what he’s talking about! For one night only on the 24th January, do not miss this hilarious comedy in the Gilded Balloon Basement of Rose Street – a mere five-minute walk from The Edinburgh Grand.
2. Burns Night Special at The Stand Comedy Club
Though the Stand Comedy Club encourages kilt-wearing to this event, they have thankfully promised not to check if anyone is a true Scotsman or not! With Jamie MacDonald, Gus Lymburn, Marjolein Robertson, Wayne Mazadza and hosted by Jay Lafferty, you are guaranteed to an evening of comedy with the twist of traditional Scottish fayre. Be sure to get your tickets early – this is a one night only affair on the 26th January. Tickets from £5.00.
3. Burns Night with Mary King’s Close at The Wedgewood
Following on from last year’s sell-out Burns supper, Mary King’s Close have once more partnered with Wedgwood the Restaurant to create an evening filled to the brim with Burn’s poetry, history, and the best locally sourced produce. Guests will be treated to a three-course meal and a recital of Burns poetry, before being escorted to The Real Mary King’s Close for a guided tour of the uniquely preserved streets and spaces underneath Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile. The evening will finish with a not-so-wee dram of whisky in the beautiful Burgh Courtroom, where guests can raise a glass to Scotland’s favourite son.
4. The Scottish Storytelling Centre
The Scottish Storytelling Centre on The Royal Mile have gone all out this year, offering a myriad of exciting events for all ages! I’m talking poetry readings, Ceilidh’s, Burns Brunch, Burns Supper – they have it all! Of course, our favourite of these has to be the Café Ceilidh! As musicians of the Scots Music Group serenade you, follow the guidance of the Ceilidh Caller, and sweep the willows with the best of them!
5. Burns for Beginners at Edinburgh Castle
Now, if you have read through this article and not understood any of the following phrases: “blessing the Haggis”, “sweep the willows” or “not-so-wee-dram”, then this is the event for you! Robert Burns, one of Scotland's literary greats, but what exactly was he on about? We’ve all got to start somewhere, and what better place to learn of the Bard’s best work that at Edinburgh Castle.