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Burns Supper in July? Date of bard’s death to be marked with mid-summer commemoration

Robert Burns
Robert Burns

It’s a fixture in Scotland’s culture calendar but maybe Burns Suppers should be staged mid-summer instead of mid-winter.

They might now be planned to coincide with the Bard’s birthday on January 25, but the first celebratory supper in Robert Burns’ honour was held on July 21, 1801, on the fifth anniversary of his death.

Friends and family congregated in the Alloway cottage where he was born to remember the poet, and now, 220 years on, a summer Burns Supper will once again take place there, as part of The Burns Two Twenty Festival, a four-day series of events beginning on Wednesday.

Lauren McKenzie, events manager at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, said: “We have been keen to put on an event at the cottage site, particularly since we weren’t able to properly mark the completion of the new thatched roof due to Covid restrictions. This will be the first time that we have been able to hold an event there, and mark the 220th anniversary of the first Burns Supper.

“The festival begins on July 21 with the Summer Supper, held within a marquee in the smallholding on the site of the cottage, where the first Burns Supper took place. We will have a top table of speakers and the traditional recitals but not in quite as formal a format as your usual Burns night – we hope it won’t be the dark, dreich night we normally have in January!

“The marquee will be in the smallholding and have open sides, so you will be in the land where the Burns family farmed. We are able to bring in that view of the cottage and the whole surrounding landscape.”