Best Burns Night events in Belfast
From Belfast Waterfront to Discover Ulster-Scots Centre, here are a few ways to celebrate Burns Night in Belfast and the surrounding area
Belfast is pulling out all the stops for Burns Night this year, with the Ulster-Scots Agency launching a new festival to celebrate the birthday of Scotland's national poet and his many links with Ulster. Taking place from 21 to 28 Jan, Belfast Burns Week will feature a programme of talks, music and entertainment. Here are just a few highlights from the festival plus some other options for Burns Night this January.
The River Room Restaurant at the Galgorm Resort and Spa will be hosting a Traditional Burns Night (25 Jan), where guests will be able to enjoy a five-course meal, whisky, wine pairing and live bagpipes. Joanne Brown, who is an ambassador of the Bruichladdich brand, will be the guest speaker for the night. The Ulster-Scots Agency have teamed up with Hosford, a homeless project of East Belfast Mission to throw a Burns Night bash (Jan 20) at the Skainos Centre. Traditional folk band Stonewall will be performing, with piping by Cameron Beggs, storytelling by Jim McClean and dance courtesy of Bright Lights Highland Dancers. The event is free to attend and everyone is welcome.
Further west in Cookstown, head to the Scottish Ceilidh at Burnavon (27 Jan) for an evening of Scottish dancing. If you're never taken part in a ceilidh before, don't worry because Ken and Linda McLean will be bringing their wealth of experience as dance leaders to help you learn and join in. Music will be provided by Risin' Stour. North of Belfast, in Larne, the Naggy Burns Ulster-Scots Society will be putting on a Burns Supper at the No 1 Club (21 Jan), with a menu featuring vegetable broth, haggis, sausage, neeps and tatties. The Music Wheelers supply the entertainment, with Alan McNally on the bagpipes and Willie McPhearson performing the Address to the Haggis.
A highlight of Belfast Burns Week will be Burns Night with the Ulster Orchestra and Friends at Belfast Waterfront (21 Jan). John Logan will be conducting the orchestra for this celebration of the poet's songs and music, with special guests including award-winning Scottish vocalist, Emily Smith. If you fancy joining in, there's an open music session scheduled (26 Jan) at the Discover Ulster-Scots Centre, which will involve professional musicians playing Burns' music and other traditional pieces. All musicians and non-musicians are welcome to take part, regardless of level of ability.
There are a number of talks that have been arranged as part of Belfast Burns Week which will be well worth attending. At Falls Road Library, Laura Spence will present a talk on the life, loves and legacy of Robert Burns. If you can't make it on 23 Jan, Laura will be repeating the talk at Saintfield Library, south of Belfast (24 Jan), Discover Ulster-Scots Centre (25 Jan), Dundonald Library (26 Jan) and Glengormley Library in Newtownabbey (27 Jan). At Ballyhackamore Library (24 Jan), Rathcoole Library (26 Jan) and Discover Ulster-Scots Centre (27 Jan), John Erskine will be speaking about Burns and the Ulster Connection, while Matthew Warwick, education officer at the Ulster Scots Community Network, will be talking about the history and poetry of Robert Burns at Banbridge Library (24 Jan). Also taking place is the Andrew Gibson Memorial Lecture (25 Jan) at the Linen Hall Library, at which Dr Carol Baraniuk will discuss the Gibson Collection and Burns.
At Linen Hall Library, the Ulster Scots Agency hosts its own Burns Night (25 Jan), with Language Officer Gary Blair providing an overview of the poet and his work and folk band Stonewall performing. There's also Cregagh Road Library's Burns Supper (25 Jan), Ballynahinch Rugby Club's Burns Night (Jan 27) and the Out to Lunch festival's Rabbie Burns Lunch (25 Jan) at The Black Box. If you're wanting to hear more of Burns' works, head to The MAC, where Scottish actor Christopher Tait will be performing his one man show, Robert Burns Live (23 Jan). Watch as Tait becomes the bard, reciting some of Burns' most famous poems including 'Tam o' Shanter' and 'Red, Red Rose'.