Burns Night in Scotland

Every year on the 25th January, people all over Scotland (and indeed all over the globe) come together for an evening of food, drink and festivities. For Scots, Burns Night is one of the biggest nights in the calendar and fills everyone with joy and excitement. Why not experience it for yourself and fly by helicopter to enjoy Burns Night in Scotland.

What is Burns Night?

Burns Night is to all intents and purposes a second national day in Scotland, and a time to honour one of the finest and most celebrated poets in history.

Robert Burns, known in Scotland as ‘the Bard’, is remembered worldwide for poems and songs such as ‘A Red Red Rose’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’, and his influence on Scottish literature has been vast.

Burns Night is celebrated with a special Burns supper. This can be an informal gathering of friends and relatives, or a more formal ceremony, but the essential elements of any Burns supper are the presence of haggis, Scotch whisky and the recital of Burns’ poetry.

Traditions of Burns Supper

In large gatherings, guests are usually welcomed by a piper playing the bagpipes. When everyone has arrived, the host of the evening will make a welcome speech thanking everyone for coming, and guests will then be seated.


Before any food is served, the Selkirk Grace is said – it’s rumoured that Burns delivered this version of grace at a dinner given by the Earl of Selkirk. The supper then begins with a soup course, typically Scotch broth, cock-a-leekie or potato soup. After this the haggis is brought to the host’s table as bagpipes are played. Burns’ poem ‘Address to a Haggis’ is recited (typically by the host) while the haggis is cut open (often with a sword).

The haggis is then served to guests, usually with potatoes and mashed turnips (‘wi’ tatties an’ neeps’). Other courses may be served after the main course (dessert, coffee etc), and then various speeches will take place:

  • Immortal Memory – a guest will give a short speech on some aspect of Burns’ life or work. This can be solemn and serious or light-hearted and jovial, depending on the type of audience the speaking guest will be addressing. A toast will then be made to Burns, and the host will thank the guest for their speech and may add their own comments on the subject of the speech.
  • Toast To The Lassies – previously this was a speech of thanks to the women responsible for cooking the meal. However, in modern times this speech is simply an amusing speech by a male guest which encompasses their views on women. This is followed by a Reply to the Toast to the Lassies (sometimes called a Toast to the Laddies) in which a female guest replies to the toast in a similarly humorous tone. Often, the ‘lassie’ and ‘laddie’ speakers will collaborate so their speeches play off one another.

After these speeches, there may be further speeches and toasts, and songs by Burns may be sung. To finish off the evening, guests are asked to join hands and sing Auld Lang Syne.

Experience Burns Night for Yourself

There’s no better way to experience Burns Night than in Burns’ home country of Scotland. Atlas Helicopters will fly you there, avoiding long drives and busy traffic so you arrive in a mood to celebrate. We’ll pick you up from a location near your home or office, and fly you to Scotland in luxury, with champagne available on board if you wish to get the party started en route.

For more information, call our friendly team today on 01256 635000.

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