Where to Spend Burns Night in Scotland

By: Anna Millar

January 21, 2015

“˜Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!’

If there’s one thing we people of Scotland love, it’s an excuse for a highland fling. Short of Hogmanay (or New Year’s Eve to the uninitiated), it doesn’t get much better than the fun-filled hoolie that a great Burns Night in Scotland can bring. With celebrations on (and around) the great Bard’s birthday on 25th January, the night is a nod to Scots poet Robert Burns. And while Scotland’s larder can be appreciated year round, there’s never a greater excuse to indulge in a dram and partake in some of Scotland’s most infamous haggis scran. Take a look at some of our favourite places to spend Burns Night in Edinburgh.

How to Spend Burns Night in Scotland | The Scotch Whisky Experience
Celebration of Scottish food as part of Burns Night © The Scotch Whisky Experience

Edinburgh has never been shy when it comes to putting on a show, and when Burns Night arrives, it excels. It’s not exactly off the tourist track but the Amber Restaurant and Whisky Bar, within the Scotch Whisky Experience, runs a special Burns menu alongside whisky tastings inspired by the distilleries that were open during Burns’ era. Nearby, at the top of the Royal Mile (just a short walk from Edinburgh Castle), the neighbouring Witchery Restaurant has arguably one of the tastiest haggis dishes in the city. As well as a decent whisky selection to boot.

How to Spend Burns Night in Scotland | Whiski Rooms
Settle in at the Whiski Rooms bistro © Whiski Rooms

Venture down the Mile towards the Mound, and you’ll find the Whiski Rooms – a great shop, bar and restaurant trio celebrating Scotland’s finest dram. They do a cracking haggis, neeps and tatties year-round, but have a special Burns supper menu, complete with haggis and cranachan, washed down with a dram of Talisker, as part of the Burns night celebrations. A bagpiper will almost certainly be in residence here, too.

How to Spend Burns Night in Scotland | The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Enjoy a dram at SMWS Bar on Queen Street © The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Over on Queen Street, The Dining Room does a fantastic veggie haggis, ensuring the less carnivorous don’t miss out. They also have a whisky selection on offer upstairs in the member’s bar of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, which could convert any whisky novice.

For those keen to try the national dish without fully committing, Bon Vivant do a fantastic haggis bonbon to be scoffed with some local ale, while laidback Mexican eatery Los Cardos does a mean haggis burrito. Other local favourites include The Last Drop in Grassmarket (look out for their Burns supper events) and Teuchters Landing down by the Shore in Leith.

How to Spend Burns Night in Scotland | Whiski Rooms
Pick up a bottle to take home at Whiski Rooms whisky shop © Whiski Rooms

Edinburgh’s seldom shy of culture and anyone imagining dusty old rooms and dinner jackets should think again. Folk music nights in top notch venues, beat poetry into the early hours, readings over amazing haggis and dram fuelled dinners, and even the occasional heavy metal ceilidh can be found across the city, on any given year.

How to Spend Burns Night in Scotland | Whiski Rooms
Haggis neeps and tatties with whisky sauce and dram © Whiski Rooms

No Burns Night in Scotland would be complete without a “Strip the Willow” or “Gay Gordons”, so look out for regular ceilidhs and pop-ups appearing over the weekend. Ghillie Dhu, in the west end of the city, is a great option with live music followed by a DJ until the wee small hours, while Edinburgh Folk Club and Lauriston Hall also host special Burns events.

 How to Spend Burns Night in Scotland | Ghillie Dhu
Join in the celebrations at a Ghillie Dhu ceilidh © Ghillie Dhu

Header Image: Collection Corner Wall © The Scotch Whisky Experience

Have you spent Burns Night in Scotland? Where did you celebrate? Let us know in the comment section below.

Written by Anna Millar


Anna Millar

Anna is a Glasgow born and Edinburgh based freelance writer and editor specialising in arts and travel. When she’s not exploring the Highlands and Islands or reviewing Scotland’s festival scene, she’s likely to be found propping up the bar at one of New York’s finest watering holes or exploring Europe’s untapped corners.

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