How to celebrate Burns Night virtually in 2021Andrea Smith

Burns Night is Scotland’s national celebration marking the life and works of the country’s most famous poet, Robert Burns, but it will look different this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A range of virtual events will take place this year on January 25 as the country celebrates its national bard. Born in west Scotland near Ayr in 1759, he was a prolific poet, whose most famous work is the New Year’s Eve ballad, Auld Lang Syne. Every year, people usually come together for Burns Suppers, which are lively evening feasts that are filled with history and ritual. This takes place through music, song and poetry, as well as traditional local food and drink offerings like cock-a-leekie soup, haggis and Scotch whisky.

Legs and Scottish kilt-wearing men
This year’s Burns Night events are taking place virtually © Kichigin/Shutterstock

The online events on offer include a virtual Burns supper at 7pm on Facebook by popular haggis brand, Macsween. Guests include comedy actor Karen Dunbar and Dr Rachel Barrie, master blender for Benriach distillery. Then there’s Glasgow Distillery’s series of online tastings, which take place on 25 and 28 January. Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland is hosting a fundraising virtual Burns supper, with Travis frontman Fran Healy and comedians Bruce Fummey, Janey Godley and Fred MacAulay. The event is free to attend but donations are welcome, and information is available here.

How to drink whisky in Scotland

The Whisky Exchange is hosting an interactive virtual whisky quiz over Zoom from 6.30pm on January 25. The quiz is free to join but attendees must register here in advance. Beatson Cancer Charity is hosting a virtual event called The Bard and his Belles on its YouTube channel to raise funds to support patients and families. Hosted by Alison Walker, the evening includes music from the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and guest speakers Karen Dunbar, Hazel Irvine and Eric Davidson. Tickets are available here.

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