Host your own: Burns Night

Posted on: 19 January 2011 by Rhian Mainwaring

End your January in style by hosting your very own Burns night. Get your mates round on the 25th January to eat haggis, drink whiskey and be merry!

Burns nightBurns Nights can range from an informal gathering with friends to a lavish formal event, with pipers, speakers and a four course meal. We've put together what makes a traditional itinerary, which you can use to put together your own night in honour of Rabbie (scottish accent!) Burns.

Piping in the guests

Hate the sound of bagpipes? Well take cover, because the 25th January is pipers heaven. Traditionally a piper will pipe in the guests to the event and hang around for much of the night, often piping in the haggis, the whiskey, the cheese board...

The Chairman’s welcome

The host of the event introduces the guests and welcomes in the festivities.

The Selkirk Grace

A speaker reads this short  toast-like poem to welcome in the meal and start off the festivities

Some hae meat and canna eat
And some wad eat that want it,
But er have meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

The Menu

This is the traditional menu and while Burns Night is all about the Haggis it can be served as a small starter or a vegetarian option if it isn't really your cup of tea. Hearty mains could replace the haggis like a stew, steak and ale pie or a roast dinner.

Cock-a-leekie soup
A creamy leek soup is the preferred starter and you can find a recipe here.

Haggis neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes)
No need to make the Haggis yourself as you can ask your butcher to rustle you one up. Turnips and tatties are traditionally served mashed and the Haggis is piped in (again!).

Cloote Dumpling
It's a heavy fruitcake like mixture boiled in a cloth and often served with custard. If you think this might be too much for your guests then a lighter dessert might be preferable.

To finish off the meal a cheeseboard is great to nibble on with your whiskey. Check out this site for the best Scottish cheeses to accompany your Burns Night!


Parties usually centre on speeches and toasts, thanking the chefs and guests as well as reading Robert Burns poetry or regaling stories of his life. There are hundreds of sites dedicated to Burns' poetry, but this is a good place to start with the Address to a Haggis.


It's no surprise that tartan is in abundance over Burns night, party packs has some great decorations for a Burns night supper.

Auld Lang Syne

It wouldn't be Burns Night without a drunken rendition of Aud Lang Syne, you can find the full version here so you can get past the first verse!

Your version

Will you be hosting your own Burns Night? Or do you go to an event each year? Whatever you're doing for Burns Night , don't forget to read some poetry, slice open a haggis and wear some tartan!

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