Our top tips for Burns Night
Start the celebrations
The 25th of January is a date seared into most Scots’ minds; a day filled to the brim with tradition, celebration, tartan, haggis and whisky. It is of course Burns Night, an annual celebration held on the anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. We Scots love a party, and celebrating the life of Scotland’s National Bard makes for a fantastic end to an often long and dark January!
VisitScotland have put together a fantastic Robert Burns e-brochure with all you’ll ever need to know about holding your own Burns Supper and sounding like a world-renowned Rabbie Burns expert!
We thought we’d gather our personal top tips and favourite facts to help you host your perfect Burns Supper. Whether you’re having a relaxed night in with haggis and a few friends or heading to a black tie ball, you’re sure to have a wonderful time.
Did you know that Burns once visited the Borders town of Coldstream? In May 1787 he crossed the border into England and recited part of the ‘Cotter’s Saturday Night’ on the English side of the Coldstream Bridge. Robert Ainslie, a Borders local and good friend of Burns hailed from an estate near Duns. Who’d have thought it!
You’ll probably know that the essential ingredients for a successful Burns Supper are haggis, neeps and tatties (also known as turnips and potatoes), washed down with lots of whisky and Irn Bru - for the younger members of your party, of course! If you’re like me and have to admit you’ve never liked the taste of haggis, did you know there are plenty of vegetarian options out there? It’s just as tasty and I love this MacSween’s recipe.
Tradition plays a huge part of any Burns Supper but there is one tradition I like to add a little twist to – the Alternative Selkirk Grace. The second and third verses are a modern addition to the original first verse (which allows Angie to have her vegetarian haggis blessed)!
Some hae meat and canna eat
And some wad eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.
But some hate meat and girn and weep,
Resisting all coercion,
So bless the tatties, bless the neeps
And the vegetarian version.
Then filled wi' fruits o' field and vine
And feelin fairlie frisky,
The One who water turned to wine,
We'd ask to bless the whisky.
For those of you who don’t like your whisky neat, there are a myriad of options for making whisky-based cocktails. Try a Mac Daddy to start your Burns Night with a zesty twist!
- Dash of whisky bitters
- 1 strip orange zest
- 25ml/1fl oz Scotch whisky
- 25ml/1fl oz ginger liqueur
- Lemon zest (to garnish)
Place all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker along with a good handful of ice. Stir to mix well. Strain into a whisky tumbler over ice and garnish with the lemon zest. Serve... enjoy!
If you fancy trying to catch your own haggis you’ll need to head up into the hills, it’s well known that the Scottish Borders are a great place to catch a haggis or two. In fact, our friends at Born in the Borders are hosting plenty of haggis action this weekend with a haggis hunt and guess the weight of the haggis competition, plus their annual Duck Race down the burn and a performance by the Jedburgh Pipe Band - all washed down with tastings of their mighty fine Flower of Scotland ale! Alternatively all good butchers and most supermarkets will be stocking pre-prepared haggis at this time of year. Let us know if you’re staying with us and would like a recommendation for a tip top local butcher.