For any proud Scotsman or woman, few nights of the year fill the heart with more national pride, or evoke the beauty and majesty of Scotland more successfully than Burns Night. Each year on the 25th of January, we gather together with friends, family, and our fellow Scots for a night of music, revelry, fine food and drink, and to share readings in honour of the bard of Ayrshire, Robert Burns.
Burns Night is a national celebration quite unlike any other, and is one which revolves around the power of words to conjure up a nation’s sense of self. As such, it is a festival not just of poetry, nor one which simply revolves around the life of a most singular man. It is a chance for the Scottish to take pride in all which sets them apart; their warmth, their inventiveness, their endurance, the beauty of their landscapes, the heartiness of their cuisine… and much more besides.
At the Caledonian Club – London’s exclusive and sophisticated Scottish private member’s club – it should come as no real surprise that Burns Night is one of the most important calendar events of the year. Burns Night in London is a beautiful, emotionally powerful, and deeply communal event; being away from one’s homeland and in the capital of another country gives this celebration even more significance, and emphasises the importance of brotherhood among London’s Scots. As a result, we strive to host Burns Night in a way which not only pays tribute to the bard himself, but which gives our members, their families, and their guests the opportunity to enjoy the very finest of Scottish music, food, company, and hospitality.
Alongside our dedicated Burns Night celebrations, our stylish and elegant functions rooms are also available to hire for hosting your own Burns Supper. Whether you’re looking to host an event which pulls out all the stops and comes complete with all the traditional trimmings, or wish to arrange something more intimate and personalised for your Burns Night celebrations, the dedicated Caledonian Club team will be on hand to help you make it an event to remember.
Who Was Robert Burns?
Born in Alloway, Scotland, on January 25th 1759, Robert Burns (sometimes referred to as ‘Rabbie’ Burns) was a celebrated poet, who went on to become nothing short of a national hero for Scottish people everywhere. His poems, ballads, and lyrics commonly dealt with the civil and political issues of his lifetime, and his tendency to write in Scots dialect and use common Scottish idioms saw his popularity with the common folk skyrocket during his short life. His fame, and love for his work, become unrivalled by any other Scottish writer after his death in 1796.
The first ever Burns Supper was held on the 21st January (the anniversary of his death) in Ayrshire, during the late 18th century. It was a meeting of friends and associates, who were eager that the poetry of Robert Burns be preserved and remembered for posterity, and who believed that Burns’ work had the power to unite people and give them pride in their national identity. As such, Scottish folk music was performed, poems were read aloud and meditated upon, and traditional Scottish food was served. While the date of Burns Night was later changed to January 25th (to commemorate the bard’s birthday, and thus become a celebration of life, rather than a memorial of death), the essential features of that first Burns Supper have stayed more or less the same throughout the ages
Unmissable Features of Burns Night
While Burns Night can be a formal occasion or an informal, friendly, and revelrous one, and is by nature a night on which plenty of personalised touches can be easily added, there are a handful of charming features which simply cannot be excluded from a traditional Burns Supper.
These include toasts to the great poet himself (Scotch single malt whisky is as much as part of Burns Night as is the poetry!), and readings of his most popular works. The main event of the Burns Supper, however, is unquestionably the presentation of the haggis; that most Scottish of dishes, and a savoury, peppery delight which warms the soul so well on a cold January evening. The haggis is brought to the diners on a large platter, accompanied by the full ceremonial bombast that only the Highland bagpipes can provide. The supper host will then recite the beloved Burns poem ‘Address to a Haggis’, and the haggis will then be sliced in half to rapturous applause, before being dished out to the guests alongside a series of delicious sides.
The Caledonian Club: Celebrating Burns Night in a Truly Elegant Setting
It’s hard to imagine a better or more appropriate place in London at which to celebrate Burns Night than the Caledonian Club. Not only is our club home to some of the capital’s most beautiful interiors and furnishings, it’s also a place where one can enjoy fine Scottish cuisine, a superb array of drinks, and all the warmth of genuine Scottish hospitality. We specialise in welcoming guests to our stunning and sophisticated function rooms, where they can experience all the music, revelry, and patriotic enjoyment associated with this deeply special calendar event.
Burns Night at the Caledonian Club is never anything but an incredibly special affair. We work hard to ensure that everything – from the atmosphere, the food, and our esteemed guest speakers – are all as perfect as you deserve on this night of merriment and national pride. Our house piper, Pipe Major Calum Galleitch, provides the gusto and ceremonial music for the cutting of the haggis, and we always ensure that music is also performed by our handpicked favourite Scottish singers and accompanists. Our guests are able to enjoy a series of toasts, speeches, and readings from guest speakers, as well as tastings from rare and aged Scotch whiskies, donated specially for the night’s proceedings.
Of course, the main event – the supper itself – is provided by our team of highly talented chefs, and includes a haggis of supreme quality and flavour, buttery bashed neeps, and a host of other sides and Scottish delicacies. Burns Night is an evening on which we ensure all senses are deeply satisfied, and the poetry of Robert Burns lives on in every aspect of the celebration. As the bard of Ayrshire himself wrote:
“Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.”
Let’s give thanks to Robert Burns, Scotland’s hero of poetry and the source of so much pride and happiness, at the Caledonian Club; our elegant and beautiful home in the heart of London, where the spirit of Scotland never fades.