Burns&Beyond with Johnnie Walker returns with free digital offering this weekend
- Megan Forsyth
- 20 January 2021
Celebrate the life and legacy of Robert Burns from home with special performances by KT Tunstall, Ricky Ross, Kinnaris, Aidan Moffat and more
Although we aren't able to gather in-person to celebrate Burns Night this year, Edinburgh's Burns&Beyond has adapted its annual event into a digital format for 2021 to allow people to celebrate the life and legacy of Scotland's Ploughman Poet from their own home. Produced by Unique Events, Burns&Beyond with Johnnie Walker will begin the online festivities on Sat 23 Jan and continue throughout the weekend, culminating on Burns Night on Mon 25 Jan.
Every year, the birthday of Scotland's national poet is marked with celebrations of his life and cultural legacy at home and around the world. This year's series of free online Burns&Beyond events includes performances by some of Scotland's leading performers and musicians who will foster the festival theme of Love, Hope and Kindness – things which we all surely could benefit from right now.
At last year's festival in Edinburgh, KT Tunstall helped raise over £10,000 for charity with a sell-out performance at the Assembly Rooms as part of the Burns&Beyond Culture Trail. This year, the famed singer-songwriter from Fife returns with a special online performance of the Burns love song 'Ae Fond Kiss'. Renowned for her on-stage presence and energy, Tunstall's performance is sure to be a highlight of the festival once again.
Also not to be missed is the online recreation of Lucky Middlemass's Tavern, which will feature an online programme of live music curated by arts collective Neu! Reekie! and Aidan O'Rourke of acclaimed contemporary folk trio Lau. The performances will be free to view on the Burns&Beyond website from 5pm on Sat 23 Jan, however audiences are encouraged to donate to the festival's official charity, Tiny Changes, which aims to raise funds and awareness for the mental health of children and young people across Scotland.
The special Lucky Middlemass's Tavern performances were filmed on location in The Caves, the famed 18th century tavern where literary greats and Enlightenment figures including Robert Burns, David Hume, Adam Smith, Deacon Brodie, James Watt and Benjamin Franklin spent their evenings. The series will include collaborations and performances inside The Caves from Deacon Blue's Ricky Ross, folk singer Rachel Sermanni, Arab Strap's Aidan Moffat, piping legend Allan Macdonald, poet and author Kathleen Jamie, plus Aidan O'Rourke himself.
Known for offering a unique take on Burns Night each year, arts collective Neu! Reekie! are set to present a variety of performances of poetry, music and dance. Neu! Reekie! founders Michael Pedersen and Kevin Williamson will be joined by indie musician Withered Hand, punk-poet Billy Liar, dancer and performance artist Suzi Cunningham, and Scottish-Algerian poet Janette Ayachi, who notably won the Saltire Poetry Book of the Year Literary Award in 2019.
Those who are keen to learn more about Robert Burns can gain insight into the man's life by tuning into Burns&Beyond at the National Museum of Scotland. Curator Dr Calum Robertson will showcase and discuss historic Burns artefacts from the national collections, and the event will also feature music from Kinnaris and Burns poetry performed at the world-famous museum.
On Burns Night, Hame will provide ways for friends and family around the country and the world to connect from their homes. In place of its annual large in-person Burns Supper, this year the festival will provide a menu of words and music together with a free, online guide to celebrating your own Burns Supper at Hame, including a list of Edinburgh restaurants offering takeaway and Burns Suppers which can be delivered right to your door. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn from talented Scottish performers different ways to include elements of a traditional Burns Supper such as 'The Selkirk Grace', 'Address to the Haggis' and 'Toasts Tae the Lads & Lassies'.
Penny Dougherty and Alan Thomson, Directors of Unique Events, said: 'We believe that this year it is more important than ever to celebrate the words and music of our National Bard, and to bring some light into our lives after the dark days of 2020. Burns&Beyond 2021 highlights the deep and universal themes of Love, Hope, Honesty and Kindness which run through the work of Robert Burns, all of which resonate now more than ever. Once again Scotland is being asked to Stay Home and Save Lives and Burns Night 2021 is an opportunity for everyone to show kindness to each other while giving continued thanks to our frontline staff and key workers.'
With three days of special events and performances scheduled, Burns&Beyond with Johnnie Walker is set to be a memorable way to celebrate the life and legacy of Robert Burns from the comfort and safety of home.
Full details of the Burns&Beyond programme will be announced soon. For more information, visit burnsandbeyond.com.