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Host the perfect Burns Night gathering

January 21, 2016Tags: Scotland

Monday 25th January is Burns Night, the annual celebration of Scotland’s most famous poet, and a great source of national pride for those north of the border. It’s likely that many Burns suppers will be taking place this weekend, not just in Scotland but across the UK. If you’re planning on hosting a Burns supper, here’s our quick guide...

1. The Food

Haggis, neaps and tatties are the traditional fare of course. If you don’t fancy getting wrist deep on offal, there are plenty of great ready-made options in supermarkets these days. Then again, if you prefer the do-it-yourself approach, this Homemade Haggis Kit from notonthehighstreet.com makes it easy, with 3 bungs and an easy to follow recipe.

Haggis

For pudding, the traditional Scottish dessert cranachan can be made by mixing oats, whipped double cream, honey, whisky and fruit.

2. The Drink

It has to be Scotch whisky, and if you can find a well-stocked pub, it’s a good opportunity to educate yourself on Scotland’s five distinctive whisky producing regions. Visit Scotland has a helpful interactive map here.

Whisky

If you’re new to Scotch whisky, you can’t go far wrong with these World Whisky Award winners for 2015:

Best Campbeltown Single MaltLongrow Red (11 Years Old)
Best Highland Single MaltGlenmorangie Extremely Rare (18 Years Old)
Best Islands Single MaltLedaig (10 Years Old)
Best Islay Single MaltArdbeg Kidalton
Best Lowland Single MaltHighland Harvest Organic Single Malt Sauternes Wood
Best Speyside Single MaltBenriach (16 Years Old)

 

3. The Music

Not everyone has a set of bagpipes in the loft, so how about creating a playlist of great Scottish pop hits instead? The Proclaimers and Runrig probably spring to mind immediately, but try thinking outside the box. Scotland has a rich tradition of great pop and indie bands including Belle & Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand, Orange Juice, Biffy Cliro, Simple Minds, Chvrches, Primal Scream, Travis, Texas, Aztec Camera, Del Amitiri, Lulu (for the dads) and your mum’s favourite – The Bay City Rollers!!

4. A bit of poetry

Well, you are supposed to be celebrating the life and works of a poet after all. It’s tradition at a Burns supper to have a master of ceremonies – someone to keep everything in order once the Glenmorangie takes effect – and it’s their responsibility to give at least one poetry reading in their very best Scots dialect.

Burns’ ‘Address to a Haggis’ is always a popular choice before the meal is served. Here's the first verse to get you started...

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

5. Dancing

It wouldn’t be a true Scottish knees up without a bit of ceilidh dancing. The Gay Gordons, The Dashing White Sergeant and Strip The Willow are all popular and easy dances and there are some great introductory videos here from Visit Scotland. Have a drink, throw yourself into it, and don’t worry too much about making a fool of yourself!


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