Burns Night 2020 at Nicholson’s

How to host your own Burns Night supper

Looking to host the perfect Burns Night supper but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve written a 10-step guide that’ll help you create a supper that your loved ones won’t forget in a hurry.

Piping in the Guests

Traditionally, you would begin your Burns Night supper by having the bagpipes play as your guests enter. Unless you have bagpipes to hand, we would recommend creating or finding a traditional Scottish music playlist that includes bagpipe music ahead of the event so that you can impress your guests as they arrive! 

Chairman’s Welcome

After the playing of the bagpipes, the host welcomes their guests. This formally marks the start of the evening. There are no set rules as to how you do this.

Piping in the Haggis

This is when the host brings out the famous haggis to their guests. Traditionally, at large events, this is brought out on a silver platter by the piper, chef and host. Bagpipes are played and guests are encouraged to clap along to the music. It’s up to you how much of an event you make this, but we would recommend that you make this as grand as possible as it’s great fun!

Address the Haggis

This is the most important part of the evening. After the piping the host invites the party to pay respect to the haggis by reciting Robert Burns’ poem about the famous dish.

The host brings a knife and makes a cut to the haggis during the 3rd verse on reading the line ‘an’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight’. A top tip from us is to make a small cut into the haggis before bringing out to present to your guests, this relieves the pressure inside it and stops bits of haggis flying onto your guests.

To save your guests from guessing the words to this famous poem, we would recommend you print out some copies or share this on a screen so that your guests feel comfortable joining in the recital.

Toast to the Haggis

After cutting the haggis up and finishing the address, the host encourages guests to raise a toast to the famous Scottish dish, declaring ‘to the haggis!’.

The Meal

We recommend serving these three traditional courses for your Burns Night. For starters, treat your guests to fresh Scottish salmon before unveiling the main event — haggis. Then, bring things to a close on a sweet note, something like a bowl of Cranachan. 

Whisky Pairings

Simply put, it wouldn’t be a proper Burns Night without whisky! Pair each course with a different dram to take your supper to the next level. For the starter, pour your guests a dram of Laphroaig 10 Year Old, before pairing the haggis with a glass of the Highland Park 12-Year-Old, for dessert we’d recommend that you enjoy your Cranachan with a dram of Auchentoshan American Oak.

The Entertainment

We can’t think of a better way to keep your guests entertained than by singing or reciting the poetry of the great man himself, Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns.

Some notable songs by Robert Burns:

- My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose
- Rantin’, Rovin’ Robin
- John Anderson, my jo
- Ae Fond Kiss, and Then We Sever

Some of Robert Burns’ most famous poetry:

- Tam o’ Shanter
- Holy WIllie’s Prayer
- To a Louse
- Address to the Unco Guid
- For a’ that and a’ that

Vote of Thanks

As the evening draws to a close the host thanks everyone for attending the supper.

Auld Lang Syne

The supper ends with guests holding hands and singing Auld Lang Syne.

So, there you have it, 10 steps to creating the perfect Burns Night supper for you and your loved ones. If you prefer to leave the hard work and planning to someone else, why not join us at a Nicholson’s pub between 20 – 25 January to enjoy a fantastic, traditional Burns Night in one of our authentic, historic establishments.