As we creep closer to Burns’ Night, it’s time to dust off your tartan, brush up on your poetry recitals and plan that all important haggis.
What a wave of good fortune that Burns’ Night falls on a Sunday: it’s a chance to really make the most of the festivities and gather your friends to celebrate the great Robbie Burns in style.
It’s been a year so let’s brush up on our knowledge of the 18th Century namesake. Robert Burns is the bonny bard of Scotland, known for poems written in Scots dialect and who has been heralded as one of the pioneers of the Romantic Movement. Robbie Burns’ life and works begun to be celebrated in the 19th Century and we continue to do so right across the country today, with full ceremonies to the haggis, poetry recitals and the bard’s favourite tipple – whisky.
As every Burns’ evening is different and can range from a formal black-tie event to a raucous knees-up, we’ve rounded up a little something for everyone’s need to help you on your way this January 25th.
Scotland: 19th-25th January If you’re full steam ahead to celebrate Burns’ Night the traditional Scottish way, there are few places that can out run The Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile in central Edinburgh. Celebrate the poet’s life in the home of the ‘guid auld Scotch drink’. Pick up a gold package tour and try the Robert Burns tasting tray which includes four whiskies produced by Scottish distilleries dating back to the 18th Century and the time of Robert Burns, and take a barrel ride through the production of Scotch whisky. Or take it a little steadier and sink into the Amber Restaurant and a four course meal. Start with Loch Etive trout and Finnan haddock wrapped in melt-in-the-mouth pastry before the traditional course of haggis, neeps, tatties and punchy whisky sauce. A course of specially selected Scottish cheeses matched to the perfect whisky follows, and the whole evening is rounded off with shortbread and coffee – a meal Robbie Burns would be envious of!
Tours: £24.50 per person
Amber Restaurant: from £17.95
Do it for charity
Bristol: 24th January Bristol Marriot Hotel have organised an evening of Scotch festivity to raise funds for The Prince’s Trust and celebrate the life and works of Robert Burns. In central Bristol’s stylish Marriot Hotel on College Green, just a hop and skip away from the city cathedral, the haggis will be released and revelry commence. There will be an authentic Ceilidh and bagpiper to keep the jig in your toes. Whisky on arrival will warm the cockles and the four-course meal features the likes of smoked Scottish salmon, haggis, neeps and tatties, and Scottish steak. It’s a black tie affair and the haggis will be ritually ‘piped’ to the table. This is a glamorous way to celebrate the famous poet and, as you dance the night away, it’s good to know that it’s all for a good cause.
Call 0117 925 5100 to book
Spend Burns’ Night at a spa
Midlothian: Saturday 24th January Why not make Burns’ Night more than one night? Dalhousie Castle is located in dramatic Midlothian countryside and the Aqueous Spa is a treat not to be missed for those staying at the castle. Soak your muscles in the hydro pool, take an invigorating tropical rain and cold fog shower and calm your mind in the tepidarium overlooking the River Esk, before commencing an evening of fine two-AA-rosette worthy Scottish fare. Burns’ Night Dinner is to be held in the atmospheric Castle Dungeon and six courses include oxtail terrine and salt-baked beetroot, fillet of Borders beef with turnip fondant and haggis dauphine, Isle of Mull Cheddar and spiced apple clafoutis. Sounds pretty inviting doesn’t it?
Six course meal £49.50 per person
It’s all about the flavour
Bristol: Saturday 24th January In a listed building down some cobbled streets in Bristol’s Old City Quarter is a treasure trove of premium spirits and exquisite food. Anyone familiar with Bristol has paid a visit to The Rummer to sample the extensive selection of rum, whisky and sensational cocktails. In fact the whisky menu at The Rummer is probably something Robbie Burns would write a poem about if he saw it. The restaurant at The Rummer also maintains a reputation for fine food and the Burns’ Night offering is no exception. Head chef Andrew Clatworthy has concocted a journey through Scottish flavours, featuring the likes of oatmeal posset with brandy, hot milk and nutmeg; fried mussels in porridge; and hairst bree on the five course tasting menu. If it’s a unique tasting experience you’re after, book a spot at The Rummer this Saturday.
Five course tasting menu £34 per person
Take me to the Moon
Sussex: Sunday 25th January A cosy nook on the outskirts of Chichester awaits revellers this Sunday. Don your best tartan and skip on down to The Blacksmith’s in Donnington see where local food expert and whisky connoisseur, Rosemary Moon will be dishing out drams and canapés. Whet your whistle on the selection of five Scotch whiskies perfectly paired with matching canapés. Each delicious morsel has an aptly Scottish spin: think smoked salmon blinis with horseradish cream, cranachan, smoked haddock and not forgetting the traditional haggis, neeps and tatties. As well as canapés, treats such as Gigha Whisky flavoured cheese and haggis crisps can be spied and tried throughout the evening. The wonderfully entertaining and totally loveable Rosemary Moon (author of no less than 19 cookery books) shares her whisky experience and love of great food in honour of our the great Scottish poet. It promises to be an awesome night out.
Five whiskies and five themed canapés £30 per person
The vegetarian haggis
London: Sunday 25th January The first thing that springs to mind at the mention of bonny Burns’ Night is haggis. This centre piece to the celebratory supper can be enough to put off anyone of the veggie persuasion. Thankfully vegetarians and vegans can still celebrate Burns’ Night in style at Regent’s Street restaurant, Tibits. Tibits originated in Switzerland and was launched with the help of Rolf and Marielle Hiltl, founders of the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world. Their wide variety of vegetarian food and popular vegan days means this veggie-friendly family business has taken our capital by storm. Tibits in London’s food quarter will be kicking up their heels on Burns’ Night and serving up vegetarian haggis, bashed neeps and chappit tatties.
Already got plans for the weekend?
St Albans: 27th January Let’s face it, much as we’d all love to believe that we are as organised as we’d planned to be in 2015, sometimes we miss the obvious. If you’ve already made plans for the weekend and it completely slipped your mind that it is Burns’ Night on Sunday, never fear, there’s an exceptional evening of whisky and foraged food in honour of the great poet a couple of nights later. The Foragers at The Verulam Arms specialise in local food, brought to the table by a group of expert foragers, so it makes for an unusual twist on the annual festivity. The four-course Scottish-themed meal includes and Irn Bru sorbet, a reading of Burns’ address to the haggis by a real Scottish lad and tartan attire is strongly encouraged. No Burns’ Night would be complete without a healthy slosh of whisky, and The Foragers have teamed up with Tomoka Spirits who will be providing guided whisky tastings over the evening.
Four-course meal and whisky tour £35 per person