Burns Night London 2020 | Burns, Baby, Burns
Just when you thought holidays couldn’t get any better than St. George’s Day (right??), in strolls Burns Night and informs you that it basically requires you to drink whisky and dance.
For those unfamiliar, it’s an annual celebration of the life of Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland. You probably belted out a verse of his most famous poem, Auld Lang Syne, a few weeks ago at New Year’s Eve. The man certainly enjoyed a good party, and traditionally a good Burns Night shindig involves whisky, haggis (which has a poem read to it), more whisky, bagpipes, kilts, sometimes a little dancing, and always a lot of merriment.
Here are the best places in London to celebrate the Ploughman Poet, from rip-roaring ceilidh dancing, to stirring bagpipe renditions, vast banquets, open whiskey bars, rooftop parties, and more…
The Ceilidh Club
For the Ceilidh Club, Burns Night is all about ceilidh. Crazy, huh? And given that they generally try to pull out all the stops anyway, to make this most sacred evening all the better they’re basically flinging the stops across the room. There’ll be a live band, a caller, three hours of dancing, an addressing of the haggis, and – surprise – some haggis (plus neeps & tatties).
Details: 18th, 24th, 25th, 31st Jan and 1st Feb | Porchester Hall, 45 Porchester Road, London, England W2 5HS | £29-39
Fiddle Paradiddle – also known as ‘London’s wildest ceilidh band’ – will be talking you through the moves at this ceilidh in an atmospheric Balham church, as well as providing some ‘nu-folk’ to dance to as the night wears on. Not before, of course, you’ve had a Burns night feast with haggis, neeps, tatties, and some sort of whisky based pud… They’re not animals.
Details: 25th & 31st January | St. Thomas’ Church Balham, Telford Avenue, SW2 4XW | £37.50
B&H Burns Night Party
There’s nothing quite as quintessentially English as celebrating another culture’s national day slightly more fervently than your own. You know, just so they don’t feel bad and such. Which explains why the fine chaps at Bourne & Hollingsworth are putting on a traditional Burns Night in London, complete with whisky cocktails; a drinks-paired, five-course banquet; the addressing of the haggis; a Burns poetry-reading competition (trickier than it sounds after the aforementioned cocktails and drinks-paired banquet)… aaand live music and ceilidh dancing.
Details: 25th January | Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings, 42 Northampton Road, EC1R 0HU | From £80
Burns Night Supper at The Pear Tree
Putting on a typically atmospheric celebration is the Pear Tree Café, who’ll be hosting a grand lantern-lit bagpipe procession through Battersea Park by night (fuelled by hot toddies), before lavishing you with a traditional five-course Burns Night feast in their café overlooking the boating lake.
Details: 25th January | Meet at Battersea Park’s Chelsea Gate, Carriage Drive North, London, SW11 4NJ | £75
Black Axe Mangal’s Lee Tiernan and the inimitable Jeremy Lee of Quo Vadis join forces for a Scotch feast served in QV’s elegant private dining rooms. The menu’s still under wraps, but there are rumours of bagpiping, Jeremy in a kilt, and something called ‘c**ty biscuits’.
Details: 25th January | Quo Vadis, 26-29 Dean Street, W1D 3LL | £60
You’ll want to watch out for Neil Rankin’s temper on Burns Night.
Because it’s at his City branch that he’ll be serving up a four-course feast of haggis tacos and other such tasty twists on tradition, each paired with a dram of whisky, and keeping the celebrations going until 2am.
Details: 25th January | temper City, 2 Angel Court, 30 Throgmorton Street, EC2R 7HJ | £50-75
This Burns Night, Richard Corrigan will be laying on a 5-course feast with a whisky flight to match at his Mayfair restaurant. You can expect Orkney scallops with seaweed butter, beef Wellington with haggis, neeps & tatties, and some citrus-poached rhubarb. Corrigan’s own doorman, Paddy, will be on the bagpipes reciting ‘Ode to Haggis’.
Details: 25th January | 28 Upper Grosvenor St, Mayfair, W1K 7EH | £75 per person for five courses plus £35 for the whisky flight (or wine alternative).
Rhythm & Booze
Rhythm & Booze pretty much already sums up your typical Burns Night. But just to make theirs extra-special, this duo will be pairing their live music with an open whisky bar. Oh, and veggie haggis canapés.
Details: 24th & 25th January | The Harrison, 28 Harrison Street, London, WC1H 8JF | £55
Burns Night Bash at Skylight
Skylight are closing out their winter period with a cray good value Burns Night party: for five pounds you’ll get a free whisky cocktail on arrival, some live bagpipers to welcome you, a special Highland dance performance, access to a whisky tasting, the traditional piping of the haggis, and a DJ all night. Not too shabby for the Rabbie.
Details: 25th January | Skylight, Penning Street Car Park, Wapping Lane, E1W 2SF | From £5
Burns Night at Cutty Sark
Little known fact: The 150 year old Cutty Sark is named after a Rabbie Burns poem (Tam o’Shanter), which makes it an extremely appropriate place to celebrate Burns Night. Slightly better known fact: you can head down to the gabled ship on Burns Night and get haggis, whisky, pipers, and a nice ceilidh dance with live music underneath the huge copper-bottomed hull.
Details: 25th January | Cutty Sark, King William Walk, SE10 9HT | £34-35.50
Burns Night with the Ceilidh Liberation Front
The Ceilidh Liberation Front are a radical folk band who enjoy “subverting the lore of Ceilidh with their energetic folk dance regime.” And if that involves hurtling round a church hall in Dalston to a foot-stomping band, a well-stocked whisky bar and a haggis feast (with a vegan alternative), then it’s the kind of regime we can get behind.
Details: 24th & 25th January | St Mark’s Church Hall, Colvestone Crescent, London, E8 2LJ | £12-15
Frank and Dean Hootenanny
Boisdale variously describes itself as having “the world’s greatest whisky bar,” hosting “the best live music in the capital,” and being “Scotland’s unofficial embassy in London”. Also, there’s tartan. Lots of tartan. So there are probably worse places to raise a glass to Burns – especially when they’re putting on a Rat Pack styled night of live music, alongside the more traditional piping and haggis serenading.
Details: 23rd, 24th & 25th January | Boisdale Canary Wharf, Cabot Place, Canary Wharf, E14 4QT | From £25
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