Burnsing it up
From tightrope-walking Tam O’Shanters to roller derbies for Rabbie, Kirstin Innes rounds up the best Burns Night events around
The man of the moment is not, as you might mistakenly be thinking, Barack Obama (guh! We’re so over that inauguration shizzle!), but a 250 year old womanising ploughman from Ayrshire. Here’s our guide to the best ways to mark Burns Night.
Why not start things off by getting to know the fella himself a little bit better? Edinburgh’s Writers’ Museum has a collection of Rabbie’s intimate correspondence on show until well into April, for free. We imagine that this is rather like the 18th century equivalent of reading Russell Brand’s inbox, because we’re sordid like that. Also in Edinburgh over Burns Weekend: Burns Midwinter Magic at the National Library, in which the te POOKa collective of circus performers and musicians are bringing the Burns exhibit to life by becoming the characters of ‘Tam O’Shanter’ on the 24th. On the 25th, the National Museum of Scotland are celebrating both Burns Night and Homecoming with a huge day of Scottish-themed events and a reading by writer Matthew Fitt.
Over in Glasgow, Burns an’ his Land at the Mitchell Library is a day of poetry, music and ‘a look at South Glasgow farmland’. Whether this be by guided tour or really long telescope, it doesn’t say. Alternatively, why not just soak up the atmosphere at George Square, where Burns Illuminated, a set of light projections and sound installations will be telling the ploughman poet’s tale all over City Chambers from the 23rd, culminating in a performance on the 25th with the likes of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Michelle McManus. Yes, actual Michelle McManus! Prefer your celebs rather more on the starry side? Join Karen Dunbar and Hollywood’s David Hayman for the Oran Mor Burns Supper, under Alasdair Gray’s spectacularly painted Auditorium.
If all this getting out and doing things sounds a little bit too social, you could always stay at home with your haggis. Make sure you let the world know you’re doing it, though: part of the celebrations Homecoming have launched include the World Famous Burns Supper project, complete with downloadable packs and poetry. See www.burnsupper2009.com for details, and if you’ve left it too late to pick up some neeps, there’s also a handy guide to public suppers to attend.
Finally, the prize for Best Burns Night Event Ever goes to Auld Reekie Roller Girls, who will be holding a Burns themed all-women roller derby at Meadowbank on the 24th. In fishnet tights. With Burnsian ‘jeerleaders’. Followed by a ‘Scots-tastic, sweaty, stinking, glamorous and sophisticated after-party’ at Studio 24. We think we’re in love.