Festival report: Burns&Beyond Culture Trail, Edinburgh, Sat 25 Jan
- Megan Forsyth
- 30 January 2020
Second year of the festival's centrepiece event proves to be a memorable way to celebrate Burns Night
Now in its sophomore year, the Burns&Beyond festival celebrates the life and legacy of Robert Burns in fine fashion. The festival's centrepiece event, the Burns&Beyond Culture Trail, takes place at various venues throughout Edinburgh's Old Town and New Town, with culture trailers getting four hours to make their way between nine atmospheric venues, taking in a variety of music and comedy performances, as well as special events along the way.
Several acts perform multiple short sets throughout the night, allowing participants to experience as much of the festival as possible. Starting the trail over in Old Town inside the stunning Greyfriars Kirk, a sublime set by Blue Rose Code (Edinburgh-born songwriter Ross Wilson) is the perfect way to begin the night. Venturing onwards down to the Royal Mile, St Giles' Cathedral provides the most peaceful stop on the trail, housing a gorgeous canopy installation of over 400 Chinese lanterns and surrounded by large scrolls of Robert Burns' most famous poems.
The biggest show of the night is KT Tunstall's slot at the Assembly Rooms Music Hall. The Scottish icon plays four high-energy sets throughout the night, treating fans to new songs and singalong-inducing favourites like 'Black Horse and the Cherry Tree' and 'Suddenly I See'. She even throws in some surprising covers, everything from the White Stripes' 'Seven Nation Army' to the Bangles 'Walk Like an Egyptian'. Sharing the spotlight with some up-and-comers, Tunstall also invites psych-pop musician Pictish Trail and young Orkney singer-songwriter Alannah Moar onstage to perform with her.
Just across the hall, the Assembly Rooms Ballroom is dubbed as Lucky Middlemass' Tavern for the night and features moving sets by spoken word and folk stars including Lost Map Records' Rozi Plain, Irish-Scottish folk ensemble Kinnaris Quintet and poet Nadine Aisha Jassat. After all, it wouldn't be Burns Night without some poetry and folk music.
Also in New Town, Gilded Balloon on Rose Street serves as the home for a number of comedy events throughout the night, compèred by local funnyman Gareth Waugh, with stand-up acts including Christopher MacArthur-Boyd and Marjolein Robertson. The Johnnie Walker whisky tastings at Merchants' Hall are another highlight of the night. Brand ambassador Nigel Robertson hosts nine informative tastings, with the chance to sample four different kinds of Johnnie Walker whisky and raise a wee dram to Robert Burns himself.
A memorable way to celebrate Burns Night, the Culture Trail offered a look inside some of Edinburgh's most beautiful venues, showcasing some of Scotland's finest talent along the way.
Burns&Beyond events run until Sun 9 Feb. For more information, visit burnsandbeyond.com