Lonely Planet Writer

Burns Night to be celebrated around the world

Tonight, (25 January), people around the world will celebrate Burns Night, a holiday held in honour of Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert Burns.

Rebekah McGinn, dressed in a late 18th century costume, takes part in the 1759 World Haggis Hurling Championship 2015 at Burns Cottage in Alloway, Scotland, where Scottish poet Robert Burns was born, ahead of the Burns Night celebrations.
Rebekah McGinn, dressed in a late 18th century costume, takes part in the 1759 World Haggis Hurling Championship 2015 at Burns Cottage in Alloway, Scotland, where Scottish poet Robert Burns was born, ahead of the Burns Night celebrations. Image by Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Each year, on Burns’ birthday, 25 January, people celebrate the life and work of Burns, who lived from 1759 to 1796, dying at the young age of 37. Burns is generally regarded at the national poet of Scotland, perhaps best known worldwide for the lyrics to the traditional New Year’s – or Hogmanay in Scotland – tune Auld Lang Syne.

The Borland Ceilidh Band play at Burns Cottage in Alloway, Scotland, where Scottish poet Robert Burns was born, ahead of the Burns Night celebrations.
The Borland Ceilidh Band play at Burns Cottage in Alloway, Scotland, where Scottish poet Robert Burns was born, ahead of the Burns Night celebrations. Image by Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Burns Night – or Robbie Burns Day, as it is occasionally called – is generally celebrated in Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, there are celebrations around the world, such as Moscow and Tokyo, but are particularly common in areas where many residents have a Scottish background, such as Dunedin, New Zealand. Dunedin, often called the Edinburgh of the South, had many Scottish settlers, one of whom was a nephew of Burns and a statue of the poet stands in the centre of the city.

Events Manager Claire Grant walks past the bow on Burns Cottage in Alloway, Scotland, where Scottish poet Robert Burns was born, ahead of the Burns Night celebrations. Robert Burns Birthplace Museum comprises of the famous Burns Cottage where the poet was born and a modern museum housing the world's most important collection of his life and works. Burns Night takes place on the birthday of the Scottish poet who was born on 25 January 1759 in the village of Alloway.
Events Manager Claire Grant walks past the bow on Burns Cottage in Alloway, Scotland, where Scottish poet Robert Burns was born, ahead of the Burns Night celebrations. Robert Burns Birthplace Museum comprises of the famous Burns Cottage where the poet was born and a modern museum housing the world’s most important collection of his life and works. Burns Night takes place on the birthday of the Scottish poet who was born on 25 January 1759 in the village of Alloway. Image by Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The holiday is celebrated with Scottish traditions such as haggis, whisky and bagpipes, and also with the reading of the poetry of Burns. Travellers interested in Burns and his cultural impact on Scotland can visit Burns Cottage, found in Alloway, South Ayrshire, which is part of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.

The Guinness World Records noted that the largest Burns supper was held last year in Glasgow and was attended by 645 guests – and sponsored by Glenrothes Single Malt Whisky. The event also raised £100,000 for charity.