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We’ve rounded up the best ways that you can enjoy Burns night at home, from virtual toasts to home-cooked haggis.
Watch Red Rose
£9.97 for the DVD
For someone who is so well-known across the globe, there have been surprisingly few films made about Robert Burns. One of them is Red Rose, a little-known 2004 biopic that charts the life of Burns and his romantic relationships – namely with his wife Jean Armour. Jean inspired many of Burns’ works, but her father was hugely disapproving of the lothario poet and the fact Jean got pregnant while they were unmarried.
When Burns eventually gained fame for his poetry her father relented and gave permission for the union and Jean remained with Robert until his death.
The film Red Rose didn’t win any Oscars, but it provides a good starting point to understanding Burns and, rated PG, could be watched with older children as part of a Burns-related home schooling lesson. The DVD is available to purchase on Amazon.
Take part in a virtual whisky tasting with Glasgow Distillery
Whisky tasting is usually a sociable event. But with no Burns events permitted this year, having a dram to yourself in the living room won’t feel quite the same. Fortunately, you can still enjoy a special whisky tasting on Burns Night thanks to Glasgow Distillery, with their resident whisky ambassador ready to talk you through five excellent single malt Scotch whiskies.
The drams will be delivered straight to your door, for free, so you don’t need to supply anything other than some whisky glasses and a comfortable chair. You can join the tasting – which runs from 7pm until 8.30pm – via WebEx on your phone, tablet or computer, where the ambassador will be guide you through each dram while sharing some curious facts about whisky and the origin of each variety.
There will also be an opportunity to recount some stories about the life of Robert Burns and toast to the bard himself- who loved whisky and wrote about in many of his poems.
Put a twist on your Burns supper by making an Ayrshire-inspired dessert
Robert Burns is one of the most famous people to come out of Ayrshire, being born in Alloway in 1759 and subsequently living in Tarbolton and Mauchline.
To honour his heritage, why not forego cranachan for your Burns supper this year in favour of another much-loved Ayrshire export?
The humble Tiffin cake, invented in Troon in the early 20th century, requires no baking at all and could be a good way to get the kids involved in Burns celebrations.
This recipe comes from Mob Kitchen, one of the most popular cooking platforms among millennials.
You’ll need 125g butter, 2 tbsp of caster sugar, 3 tbsp of golden syrup, 50g of cocoa powder, 150g of dried fruit, 200g of chocolate of your choice and one pack of biscuits (digestives, another Scottish invention, work well).
Grease a brownie tin or small high sided roasting tray with a little butter and line the base with baking paper. Melt the butter, caster sugar, golden syrup, cocoa powder in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
Once melted, crush in the biscuits and add the fruit of your choice. Mix everything together then tip into the tin, pressing down with the back of your wooden spoon into an even layer.
Break the chocolate into a bowl. Melt in the microwave in 30 second bursts, or over a saucepan of simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Pour the melted chocolate over the tiffin and spread into a thin layer. Put the tiffin into the fridge for at least 2 hours until set, then cut into squares.
Learn how to ceilidh dance with a free YouTube livestream
Having your own Burns ceilidh at home is all well and good if you know the dances. But for those of us who have, at best, some patchy memories of the Gay Gordon or Dashing White Sergeant from our high school dances, a refresher course may well be required. Enter folk music group the Nest Collective, who are live streaming a free ceilidh event on YouTube on Burns Night from 8pm-9.30pm.
Host Sam Lee will guide you through the evening, with a Covid-safe dancers demonstrating the moves and a live ceilidh band providing the soundtrack.
All the dances have been specially re-purposed to work in small spaces like living rooms, as well as being modified to accommodate groups, couples and even solo dancers.
No previous experience is necessary and no registration is required, although donations to the Migrateful charity would be welcomed by the organisers.
Join in the Big Burns Supper
Dumfries was Robert Burns’ home in the later stages of his life and in his honour the town hosts a ‘Big Burns Supper’ every year. More of a festival than a supper, it normally involves 11 days of music, comedy and theatre in events all over Dumfriesshire- which evidently can’t go ahead in the middle of our current lockdown. Yet the organisers have made sure that they are still offering a variety of digital entertainment, which will be made available on Monday night on their website (www.bigburnssupper.com).
Highlights include exclusive performances from the likes of KT Tunstall, Donovan, and the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain, as well as poetry readings from Amy Conachan, and comedy from compère Janey Godley. You can watch proceedings for free on YouTube from 7pm until 8.15pm.
Send a loved one a Clanagram
£19.99 per message
What better way to celebrate Burns night than with a personalised message from the bard himself? That’s (kind of) what’s on offer with Clanagram, the brainchild of an Argyll-based theatre company who have thrown themselves into digital performances while Covid has placed their industry on ice.
Their actor-led video messages, delivered by email, provide personalised well-wishes from a range of popular Scottish historical figures.
The videos last around four minutes and can include as much personalised information as you wish, with the opportunity to include messages to multiple family members within the same video.
A video from ‘Burns’ will also include him reading one of his poems, offering a great way to get children excited about the bard and his works.
Watch ‘A Virtual Burns Night’
Edinburgh Castle is currently closed to the public due to lockdown restrictions- but you’ll be able to get within the castle walls at this special digital event.
Historic Environment Scotland have recorded a Burns performance of song and poetry, exploring the life and works of the national bard, that features costumed performers ‘Lady Clara’ and ‘Mistress Lindsay’.
Filmed in the halls of Edinburgh Castle in a Covid-safe setting, the virtual Burns night will be streamed at 5pm on Monday for free on the Historic Environment website.