South Scotland

Robert Burns supper festival in Dumfries gets under way

Eddi Reader
Image caption Eddi Reader is among those performing as part of the Big Burns Supper in Dumfries

A new festival in Dumfries celebrating the suppers held in honour of Robert Burns is swinging into action.

The Big Burns Supper officially opens with an "outdoor spectacular" with hundreds of performers broadcast on four giant screens on the town's Whitesands on Friday at 18:00.

It is followed by music, comedy, dance, theatre, and visual arts events as well as Burns suppers over the weekend.

In total, there will be 80 different events in 40 different venues.

Among those performing will be Eddi Reader, award-winning folk singer Emily Smith and local band Finding Albert.

Organisers hope it will become the world's largest Burns festival.

Festival Director Graham Main explained: "Burns is buried here in the mausoleum so I think the town kind of retains what is left of his spirit here - we are rightly proud of that.

"Also the town itself is almost like a living museum to Burns, you can walk into the Globe Inn and you can go upstairs and see his room which is still intact.

"The town has this kind of look about it which, I think, visitors get quite excited about and they can imagine and visualise what it would have been like for Rab here."

Mr Main said it was a Burns supper at Ellisland Farm near Dumfries which was the catalyst for his own passion for the poet.

He said he hoped this new festival could spread that kind of feeling throughout the town.

"We are just trying to give the audience a bit of that and see if we can excite them about him," he said.

"I suppose we are trying to create a whole big Burns supper throughout the town - a kind of metaphorical Burns supper where everyone is gathered round the table and each of the venues plays its part in doing that."

'Cultural icon'

In other parts of the country, numerous events will take place to celebrate the birthday of the Bard.

A new £25,000 statue will be unveiled at his birthplace museum at Alloway in Ayrshire.

Image caption Alex Salmond attended a performance at the Scottish Storytelling Centre

And in Edinburgh, the First Minister Alex Salmond will watch a performance of Tam o'Shanter by schoolchildren at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

Celtic Connections will also have a series of Burns-related performances in Glasgow as singers and poets pay tribute to the inspirational writer.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "Robert Burns is Scotland's greatest cultural icon, recognised and celebrated all around the world.

"He remains the people's poet and his legacy is of immense value to Scotland and the country's image abroad.

"Scotland's friends the world over will also be joining in the fun with Burns Night celebrations from Cardiff to Canada and Melbourne to Mexico City, there really will be something for everyone to enjoy."

One of the more unusual celebrations with be at Deep Sea World in North Queensferry where divers will sit down to their supper surrounded by sharks while submerged in an aquarium.

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites