Scotland Celebrates Burns Night Home & Abroad

26 January 2016, 07:11

Hundreds of traditional Burns Suppers, poetry recitals, performances and parties have been held around the world to celebrate the birthday of Robert Burns.

Groups set up to honour his work organised readings of his poetry and songs in meetings as far away as America, Africa and the Middle East.on Monday - 257 years on from his birth.

British troops celebrated Burns Night in Cyprus, Afghanistan and Iraq, while Foreign Office events were being held in Malawi and Jerusalem.

In Scotland, what has been described as the first Burns Supper to be held in the poet's cottage in Alloway, Ayrshire, for more than two centuries was staged.

Tickets cost around £250 a head as the Burns Birthplace Museum used the event as a fundraiser to help save the monument.

The very first Burns Supper - including haggis, toasts to the poet and recitals of his work - was held by a group of his friends in his Alloway cottage in 1801, five years after his death.

Museum director David Hopes said: "We need £350,000 to restore it and are already making good inroads into that figure.

"But if we fail to raise the money the monument would have to close within 12 months.

"That is why events like this will be so important.''

The annual Big Burns Supper Festival started in Dumfries last week and a carnival was held on Sunday featuring hundreds of dancers, costumed performers, and colourful floats.

Social media users were asked to share selfies with a Burns-related item such as a statue, painting, book of poems or plate of haggis, neeps and tatties.

The images will be combined to create a huge mosaic picture of Burns and will be shared at

Anyone named Robert, Bobby or Rabbie Burns was offered a chance to join in the celebrations in shopping centre Silverburn with restaurant Cosmo giving away a free supper to anyone who shares their name with the Bard.

A free online course run by the University of Glasgow also got under way on Monday, with thousands of people from around the world registered to study Burns.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: ''Robert Burns's words are recognised around the world and his poetry, writing and songs continue to be enjoyed by millions.

''Burns Night is a great opportunity to celebrate Scotland's Bard and to enjoy Scotland's poetry, music and wider culture.''

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "More than 250 years after his birth, the work of Robert Burns still has the ability to move, thrill and inspire us.

"I am heartened to see how much his legacy is valued and enjoyed, particularly by young people, who come to his work with fresh eyes and ears.

"Burns' work tells us a lot about Scotland as a nation - how we see ourselves and how others see us. But his enduring global influence demonstrates that his genius transcends time and place.''

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "I'm from Ayrshire and Burns is Ayrshire's favourite son, but more than that, I think Burns is Scotland's greatest treasure.

"I am proud of many things about Scotland but probably the thing that makes me proudest of all is Robert Burns.

"Somebody from his background, who died as young as he did - to produce the timeless, beautiful, voluminous body of work he did was nothing short of awesome.''