With Burns Night 2021 fast approaching, although looking a bit different this year, people can still mark the big night by enjoying a host of virtual Burns celebrations and suppers.

January 25 is known worldwide as Burns Night - the birthday of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national bard – traditionally celebrated with a meal of haggis, turnip (‘neeps’) and potatoes (‘tatties’), and a wee dram of whisky. 

Some of these events include Dumfries’ famous Big Burns Supper - with comedy, music and entertainment – going digital for the first time, the National Trust for Scotland’s Big Burns Night In, streaming live from Robert Burns Cottage in Alloway and haggis producer Macsween’s plans for the largest virtual Burns Supper.

Irvine Times: Photo credit: VisitScotland / Paul TomkinsPhoto credit: VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

What’s more, many companies – including Mac & Wild – are offering deliveries of everything needed to have the perfect Scottish celebration at home.

So if you have ever wanted to host a Burns supper - albeit on a smaller scale for 2021 - but are not sure how, then check out some of the ideas below.

Celtic Connections

January 15 - February 2 2021

The world-famous Celtic Connections is going digital for the first time. Across 19 days, including Burns Night - performances will be available to view online with some of the biggest names on the Scottish music scene and beyond appearing on screens across the world as part of the winter festival.

Ticket prices vary across the dates.

For the full programme of events and details of how to book, click here 

Burns Big Night In (with National Trust for Scotland)

Saturday, January 23 2021, 7-8.30pm 

This special virtual event will present music from Scottish folk band Talisk, a cocktail masterclass courtesy of The Glenlivet, some exclusive insights into the life of Robert Burns from the experts, plus some very special guests who’ll bring the traditional Burns Supper to life including the world-famous Address to the Haggis.

As an optional extra, revellers can order a ‘Box of Braw’ for two to be delivered to their home. Filled with treats and a few wee nips to set the evening off, courtesy of some of Scotland’s most iconic brands, the box also contains some exclusive Burns-related memorabilia including a print of Burns’ original Auld Lang Syne manuscript.

Ticket prices from £18 per person (extra cost for the Box of Braw). 

For more information and to book, click here

Big Burns Supper

January 25 2021, 7pm

Scotland’s largest contemporary Burns celebration Big Burns Supper goes digital for the first time in 2021. Marking the festival’s 10th anniversary, Janey Godley’s Big Burns Supper dishes up a very special broadcast connecting Scotland to the world with contributions from local, national and international artists to help celebrate Burns Night in a way that helps give everyone a much-needed lift and a laugh.  

Broadcast free of charge across Big Burns Supper’s Facebook and YouTube channels, the special 75-minute digital broadcast welcome back a cracking selection of artists including KT Tunstall, Dougie Maclean, Donovan, Tide Lines and Skerryvore who have performed at the festival over the last ten years.

Scots comic Janey Godley will host from her own living room as she prepares a Burns supper while introducing guests and festival friends throughout the evening.

Festival favourites Le Haggis will also be making an appearance providing burlesque, comedy and mayhem.

The event is free. For more information, click here 

Macsween Burns Supper

January 25 2021, 7pm

Edinburgh-based haggis brand Macsween is aiming to bring (possibly) the largest virtual Burns Supper to homes across the globe.

Teaming up with Scottish comedy actor Karen Dunbar, alongside Dr. Rachel Barrie, master blender for Benriach distillery and described as The First Lady of Scotch whisky’, the event will be aired on Macsween’s Facebook page at 7pm.

The event will be broadcast here, and anyone can join in the fun for free.

Burns&Beyond

January 23-25 2021

Burns&Beyond with Johnnie Walker returns in January 2021, celebrating the life and legacy of Robert Burns through traditional and contemporary art and culture from across Scotland and Beyond.

Set against a theme of Love, Hope and Kindness, Burns&Beyond 2021 presents a free online programme of live music and poetry from Lucky Middlemass’s Tavern, curated by both Aidan O’Rourke (Lau) and arts collective Neu! Reekie!, a series of online performances to help everyone celebrate their very own Burns Night at Hame and an online celebration of the Burns Collection at the National Museum of Scotland.

Following a sell-out appearance at last year’s festival which helped raise over £10,000 for charity, KT Tunstall returns with a special online Burns&Beyond performance of Ae Fond Kiss.

For the full programme, click here

Burns Night Ceilidh with the Nest Collective

January 25, 8-9.30pm, live on YouTube

Dust of those dancing shoes with a free live Ceilidh from the Nest Collective.

Join in for a night bedecked in tartan and Tam o’Shanters, with whisky flowing and floorboards shaking, all in celebration of Burns.

Host Sam Lee will guide viewers through the evening. Dance along at home to a live ceilidh band (with Covid-safe demonstration dancers), listen to contributions from special guest musicians, and enjoy the Burns ceremony itself.

The event is free so to register interest click here 

SBH Scotland – World's Biggest Burns

January 25 2021, 7pm

SBH (Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus) Scotland has joined forces with Grant’s Haggis and Endura to bring the world together for one special hour of big Burns and entertainment. 

The event will be broadcast on the organisation’s YouTube and Facebook channels and the celebration of Burns includes performances from comedians Janey Godley and Fred MacAuley as well as the world’s leading Robert Burns performer, Christ Tait, and Travis front man, Fran Healy.

This is a free event. To register interest, click here

Burns Night whisky tastings with Once upon a Whisky and the Glasgow Distillery Company

January 21, 25 and 28 2021, 7pm – 8.30pm

Celebrate Burns Night with Glasgow Distillery and Once Upon a Whisky.

Guests who buy tickets for the online tastings can try five premium whiskies from the Glasgow Distillery Company (which are home delivered) and discover all the secrets behind the first whisky distillery in Glasgow in over 100 years.

Tickets are £35 and can be booked by clicking here 

‘Burns Box’ and virtual poetry readings from Wedgwood the Restaurant

Edinburgh’s Wedgwood the Restaurant has launched a ‘Burns Box’, available UK nationwide, to celebrate Burns Night in lockdown.

The Scottish feast includes a copy of Robert Burns’ famous poem Address to a Haggis, a dram of whisky to toast Scotland’s national bard and a five-course Burns supper created by chef patron Paul Wedgwood.

The menu features Whisky and Douglas Fir cured salmon, Wild Highland heather moor grouse ham and a Chocolate and clootie dumpling brownie. 

Irvine Times: Photo credit: VisitScotland / Kenny LamPhoto credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

To finish off the experience Paul Wedgwood will be taking to Wedgwood’s social media on January 25 to pay tribute to the poet, reading the Address to a Haggis at 7:30pm with a wee dram of whisky.

The Burns Night box is priced at £140 for two people and includes free UK nationwide delivery. Additional wine selections from the Wedgwood wine cellar will also be available to order. 

Click here for more information

Mac & Wild’s Burns Night Taco Kit

Showcasing the incredible produce from the Highlands, Mac & Wild offers many of the essentials needed for the ideal Burns supper, delivered to the door.

From a Haggis recipe e-book, to wild venison and lamb haggis, a cocktail minibar and even a Burns Night Haggis taco kit, it’s a taste of Scotland at home.

Please click here for full details and to order

The World’s First Neep Tonic Water

Using neeps from an Aberdeenshire farm, Claire Rennie, founder of small-batch Scottish tonic water Walter Gregor’s has created the world’s first neep tonic water in time for toasting Burns.

Launched on January 13, the Scottish Neep Tonic is a limited edition and is only available on the Walter Gregor’s website for delivery in the month of January.

It is made on site in Aberdeenshire and contains only natural ingredients including carbonated Scottish water, Scottish neep infusion, quinine and sugar from British grown sugar beet.

All Walter Gregor’s tonics are available to buy here

Hosting a Burns Supper

To start, the host says a few words, everyone sits and the Selkirk Grace is said.

For the meal, the starter is served, the haggis is piped in (by a piper in a kilt naturally, or you can find a virtual piper!) and the host performs Address to a Haggis.

Everyone then toasts the haggis and the main meal is served, followed by dessert - with cranachan being a great option. 

Irvine Times: Photo credit: VisitScotland / Luigi Di PasqualePhoto credit: VisitScotland / Luigi Di Pasquale

After the meal, the first Burns recital is performed, the Immortal Memory (the main tribute speech to Burns) is given, the second Burns recital is performed, and then there’s a Toast to the Lassies, followed by a Reply to the Toast to the Lassies, before the final Burns recital is performed.

To end the night, the host gives a vote of thanks, everyone stands and sings Auld Lang Syne, crossing their arms and joining hands at the line ‘And there's a hand, my trusty fere!’

For more Burns night resources, including menus, activities for children, Zoom backgrounds and hosting tips, click here 

To find out more about Burns, his life, legacy and exploring his story in Scotland (when it is safe to travel), click here