Bringing Burns Night to London

Burns Night in London

If you like drinking, eating and dancing, then you’ll love celebrating Burns Night on 25 January. This annual Scottish tradition celebrates poet and songwriter Robert Burns, who strongly endorsed food, fun and frivolity. Here are the five best ways to celebrate at home in London…

1. Go to a virtual ceilidh

We know it’s a bit different, but as long as you have access to the internet, a ceilidh is still ‘one of the best things to do in London’. Check out the Ceilidh Club for a virtual Burns Night in London to remember!

Get into the Scottish spirit by going to a traditional ceilidh – in your living room. Burns himself would probably argue there’s no better fun. You’ll take part in dances such as Strip the Willow, Dashing White Sergeant and the Gay Gordons. It’s a great chance to try something a bit different and spice up your Monday night with more than just a haggis. Remember to don your best tartan and prepare to be amazed by the live music that makes these occasions so special.

2. Host a Burns Supper

Over Teams, Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp – or with your family and flatmates, no Burns Night is complete without a Burns Supper. Haggis, the national dish of Scotland, is a staple of any Burns Night. It even inspired a poem by Burns (Address to a Haggis) and should always be eaten with ‘neeps and tatties’ (mashed parsnips and potatoes). It’s a meal that divides opinion – probably because of the (often unusual) ingredients – but today it’s possible to get various types alongside the traditional, including vegetarian or hot and spicy. If you want to make your own, you can find a range of recipes here.

3. Enjoy a dram

It is a solid tradition in Scotland for a dram (a wee drink) of whisky to accompany any special event, including birthdays, weddings, a particularly boring Wednesday… and, of course, Burns Night. It’s a drink for which Scotland is famed, and with more than 120 distilleries in the country, there’s plenty of brands to choose from. Do remember to drink responsibly – whisky is best enjoyed in moderation!

4. Indulge in poetry

Burns captured the nuances and traditions of Scottish life in the 18th century in his poems and lyrics, and was regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement. You may have heard of Auld Lang Syne, the popular song sung at Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve), or the love poem A Red, Red Rose. This Burns Night, try writing your own poem to a loved one, or recite a favourite at your Burns Night supper.

5. Wear tartan
A Scottish family name and ancestral heritage will often dictate which tartan you ought to wear; Burns probably wore one of black, white and brown check. Traditional Scottish clothing worn for a ceilidh, a wedding, or any formal event usually involves tartan, whether on a kilt, troos (trousers) or a scarf. So why not wear your favourite piece of tartan to mark Burns Night?