Burns Night


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.

Burns Day Celebration

An exciting programme of events in this double celebration for the 250th anniversary of the birth of Rabbie Burns and the start of the National Year of Homecoming, including a performance and workshops by Scottish writer Matthew Fitt. Events take place all day. No booking necessary.

Burns 'an his Land 250

An afternoon of illustrated poetry readings, live music and a look at South Glasgow farms to celebrate 250 years of the bawdy bard.

Burns Midwinter Magic

See the library's Robert Burns exhibition come to life with te POOKA (a collection of Edinburgh-based circus performers, artists and musicians) becoming the characters of 'Tam O'Shanter'.

The Bard at the Writers' Museum

Get to know Rabbie Burns with this collection of intimate correspondence. The poet was a prolific letter-writer; the display focuses on the letters written to eight of his many correspondents and reveal the various facets of his personality, as well as his thoughts on his country and its history.

Fishnet Burns Night

And 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. 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.

Burns Illuminated

The likes of Michelle McManus and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers perform in support of a gigantic narrative, sound and light projection telling the life story of Robert Burns.

Burns Night at Oran Mor

A mixed night of music from The Sirens of Titan Choir, comedy from Karen Dunbar and Jonathan Watson performing 'The Immortal Memory' to celebrate the anniversary of Burns' birth, complete with a traditional Burns supper.