What is Burns Night and where can you can celebrate the holiday in London? Read on to find out.
It makes sense to start this article by giving you a brief overview of the Scottish holiday known as Burns Night. Beloved by the Scots, this festival celebrates the life and work of the Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796). The event falls on his birthday, January 25, and is steeped in history and tradition. After centuries of being celebrated in bonnie Scotland, the celebration has slowly made its way across the border and is now enjoyed by the English as well.
London has some of the best parties in the world and Burns Night is no different. Traditionally, Burns Night would start with a supper and continue with poetry readings and bagpipe music, and was a ritualistic event in terms of which foods were served and which poems were recited. You are even meant to sing to haggis in the famous “Address to a Haggis.”
However, for the younger generation, much of this de rigueur is dispensed with in favor of casual celebration. And, of course, the star of any Burns Night show is copious bottles of the legendary Buckfast, a caffeinated, fortified wine that could get you drunk just by looking at it.
So, where can you go to have a truly fantastic Burns Night experience? Here are a few of the best places to celebrate Burns Night in London.
1. Burns Night in the Wigwam – Queen of Hoxton, Shoreditch
On the rooftop of this beloved Shoreditch bar stands a tent filled with Burns Night revelers. This free event is tremendous fun, so you’ve got nothing to lose by popping in. Expect to find neeps, tatties and haggis – traditional Scottish fare – music, poetry and plenty of booze. When you’re ready to move on, it’s just a hop skip and a jump to dozens of other pulsing pubs in London’s premier nightlife zone. 1-5 Curtain Rd
2. Dinner at the Boisdale – The Boisdale
If you’re looking for a traditional way to spend Burns Night, head over to one of the Boisdale restaurants. The Mayfair and Bishopsgate branches will be celebrating on January 24, while the Canary Wharf restaurant has Burns Night festivities happening on both the 24 and 25. The night consists of plenty of food and live music, followed by a DJ later on. Various venues across London
3. Burns Night Whiskey Tasting – Rotunda, King’s Cross
What could be more Scottish than dozens of different types of whiskey sipped in honor of one of the nation’s finest poets? Rotunda in King’s Cross will host a whiskey tasting. Throughout the evening sample a plethora of delicious whiskeys paired with wonderful Scottish fare for a boozy and therefore thoroughly Scottish experience. 90 York Way
4. Burns Night Remixed – EartH (Evolutionary Arts Hackney), Dalston
If you’ve got no time for the traditional celebrations associated with Burns Night and would rather do something a little more modern, head to EartH in Dalston. You’ll be partying until the early hours at this trendy rave venue in edgy East London. There will be Scottish food on offer with some bagpipe remixes thrown in for good measure. But for the most part, it’s an awesome opportunity to make merry and boogie down. 11-17 Stoke Newington Rd
5. Ceilidh Club – Porchester Town Hall, Bayswater
For a proper knees-up Burns Night experience you need to partake in a ceilidh — a traditional Scottish dance that involves a lot of spinning around and skipping. It sounds weird, it looks weird and it is without a doubt the most fun you will have all year. The Ceilidh Club will be taking over the Porchester Town Hall for Burns Night this year so you can make your address to a haggis in the fanciest of settings before dusting off your dancing shoes and hitting the dancefloor. The festivities occur on January 31 and February 1. 45 Porchester Rd