Celebrate Scotland this Burns Night 2021 with a twist!


25th January is a highlight of Scotland’s winter calendar- it is the day that Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns, is celebrated on his birthday with an evening of traditional food, drink and poetry. Although now is not the time to explore Scotland in person, there is nothing stopping Scotland fans from far and wide getting involved with the celebrations!

In 2021, you can either throw your very own Burns Supper, put a spin on the classic and whip up a delicious Burns brunch, attend virtual events and raise a toast to the Bard of Scotland both virtually and in real life!

Virtual events: On the evening of the 25th of January, you can join in on one of the excellent live virtual Burns celebrations and suppers taking place this year, including Dumfries’ famous Big Burns Supper – with comedy, music and entertainment. The National Trust for Scotland’s Big Burns Night In will stream live from Robert Burns Cottage in Alloway, with concert and a whisky tasting masterclass. You can also tune in to Celtic Connections, Scotland’s largest Winter music festival, to celebrate with the best of Scottish trad music (full list of events below).

Burns supper resources: A traditional Burns Supper consists of a meal of Haggis, Neeps (Swede or Turnip) and Tatties (potatoes), several spoken word performances and is often finished off with a wee dram of whisky. (For access to the Burns works indicated, see www.robertburns.org ). To start – the host says a few words, everyone sits, and the Selkirk Grace is said.

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it,

But we hae meat and we can eat,

Sae let the Lord be Thankit!

The meal – the starter is served, the haggis is piped in, the host performs Address to a Haggis, everyone toasts the haggis and the main meal is served, followed by dessert (cranachan is a great option.)

After the meal, the first Burns recital is performed, the Immortal Memory (the main tribute speech to Burns) is given, the second Burns recital is performed, and then there’s a Toast to the Lassies, followed by a Reply to the Toast to the Lassies, before the final Burns recital is performed.

To end the night – the host gives a vote of thanks, everyone stands and sings Auld Lang Syne, crossing their arms and joining hands at the line ‘And there’s a hand, my trusty fere!’.

In addition, get the virtual ceilidh-dancing experience at:   http://ceilidhexperience.visitscotland.com

For downloadable Burns Night resources visit visitscotland.com/burns  and scotland.org/burns  (see below)

Burns brunch

Turn the classic Burns Supper on its head and transform it into an exciting brunch. Swap the traditional Haggis, Neeps and Tatties for a delicious Sweet Chilli Haggis Protein Bowl and start the day like a real Highland Games champion. Find the inner poetry of a haggis and fried egg over rye bread or, if you’re not into Scotland’s national dish (WHY??), try some veggie haggis rolls with firecracker sauce. MacSween’s, a popular Haggis producer in Scotland, have a range of recipes, catering to a variety of dietary requirements on their website to help get anyone in the mood for haggis. https://www.macsween.co.uk/

Swap your brunch time mimosas for refreshing whisky cocktails such as a Peach highballGinger Spritz or why not try something stronger like a classic Old Fashioned made with Scottish single malt– that’s bound to knock your morning cup of coffee out of the park! Follow the link for more whisky cocktail inspiration: https://www.thespruceeats.com/great-scotch-cocktails-4154735

Raise a virtual toast to friends near and far

This year, we’re also asking Scots (by birth, ancestry, and inclination) and friends to join us in raising a virtual toast to one another from around the world on 25 January 2021.

We’re asking people to post their toast message on their own social channels at any time from Friday 22 January up until Burns Night ends on Monday 25 January 2021 and include #BurnsNightIn.

We want to celebrate the international reach and resonance of the Bard’s words and their continued ability to connect us and bring us together, even when times are challenging and Covid restrictions mean we can’t physically come together as we would do normally.

Whatever people want to post as their toast to be is entirely up to them and can be as simple or as creative as they like or can do in current times. Toasts can be in any format people desire to post them – video, photographs, images, lines of poetry, audio recordings!


List of Burns virtual events in 2021

Celtic Connections (15 January – 2 February 2021)

The world-famous Celtic Connections is going digital for the first time. Across 19 days, including Burns Night – performances will be 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.

Tickets prices vary across the dates.  For the full programme of events and details of how to book, visit www.celticconnections.com

Burns Big Night In (with National Trust for Scotland)

Sunday, 26 January 2021, 7pm-8pm GMT


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 very special guests who’ll bring the traditional Burns Supper to life including the world-famous Address to the Haggis.

Ticket prices from £18 per person.  For more information and to book, go to www.nts.org.uk/stories/burns-big-night-in


Big Burns Supper (26 January 2021, 7pm GMT)

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 very 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 and YouTube channels, the special 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 ten 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. For more information, please go to: http://bigburnssupper.com/


Macsween Burns Supper (26 January 2021, 7pm GMT)

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 and anyone can join in the fun for free.


Burns&Beyond (23 – 25 January 2021)

Burns&Beyond with Johnnie Walker returns in January 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 Hame 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 raise over £10,000 for charity, KT Tunstall returns with a special online Burns&Beyond performance of Ae Fond Kiss.

For the full programme, go to: www.burnsandbeyond.com


Burns Night Ceilidh with the Nest Collective

25 January, 8-9.30pm GMT, 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 to register interest go to: https://thenestcollective.co.uk/events/burns-night-2021/


SBH Scotland – World’s Biggest Burns

26 January 2021, 7pm GMT

SBH (Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus) 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. To register interest, please see www.sbhscotland.org.uk/content/burns/