Forget Dry January. It’s tartan time in London when Burns Night and Scottish-themed suppers make their annual return. Traditionally held on Robert Burns’ birthday, 25th January (which is a Wednesday in 2017), the idea is to eat, drink, dance and generally be merry. After all it’s what Scotland’s national poet would have wanted – he was fond of a good knees-up. So here’s where to find Burns Suppers, the best ceilidhs (they’re Scottish folk dances) and maybe a decent bottle of Scotch this January.
Don’t worry if you don’t know your Gay Gordon’s from your Dashing White Sergeant – the bands understand that those who live south of the Scottish border might not be as familiar with the reels and steps. Here’s where you can get your kilt in a twist.
You’re going to need a lot of energy as the Burns celebrations here are all about the dancing. You’ve got three hours – all accompanied by a live band – to get to grips with all the steps, turns and moves. Don’t worry, they’re used to novices. They’ll pipe in the haggis at half time to give you a much-needed breather and finish off the night with Auld Lang Syne. You have to book online in advance (£34.50) as there are no tickets on the door. You do however have six nights to choose from (January 20th, 21st, 27th, 8th and the 3rd and 4th of February).
Streetwise Opera Burns Night Ceilidh
The charity Streetwise Opera are returning with their annual Burns Night. The live music will come from Ceilidh Tree, and there’ll be a caller to help you out if you’ve never been to one before (they shout which way to go). Tickets for the event on Wednesday 25th January are £20 (not incl food and drink) or £30 and you can tuck into the haggis (there is a vegetarian version). All proceeds go towards the charity’s work with the homeless. It’s slightly cheaper to book in advance but there may be tickets on the door.
Burns Ceilidh Night and Supper
There’s two nights to choose from at Fusilier House in Balham (Friday 20th or Saturday 21st January). Both evenings have live music from Fiddle Paradiddle, who are running the pop-up, and Scottish fare from Julia’s Kitchen. There’ll be a special bar serving drinks from local breweries, which is handy when you need to re-hydrate from all those reels. Tickets cost £30 including a two-course meal – book here.
Burns Night Ceilidh
Fiddle Paradiddle will be having a busy night on Friday 20th, as they’ll also be popping up a couple of miles down the road at Battersea Arts Centre’s own Ceilidh celebrations. The evening includes a feast of haggis, neeps and tatties, and plenty of dancing (the organisers are keen to point out that no prior experience is required). And, with the venue being decorated with fairy lights, Battersea’s beautiful old town hall will be set to look even more beautiful than usual. Tickets cost £30 and can be booked from Battersea Ars Centre’s website.
The Whisky Bar at the Athenaeum hotel
This independent pub in London Bridge has one of the best whisky cellars in the city.