Burnsfest at Storytelling Centre proves Scotland's Bard is accessible to all!

Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is the obvious place to start for a taste of Burns and the Scottish Storytelling Centre, right in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, doesn’t disappoint. Join us as part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals for a Burnsfest feast of storytelling, theatre and song to celebrate the ploughman from Ayrshire who penned some of the finest verses in history.

To celebrate the Bard’s great love of his nation and his knack for entertaining the masses with wit, charm and sublime storytelling, the Centre presents an action-packed programme with eight braw events for all ages to enjoy; from a traditional Burns Supper with a twist to family activities of Scots rhymes, tales and games, this Burnsfest proves Scotland’s favourite son has something to offer everyone.

Family Burns

You’re never too young to get a taste of Burns’ legacy and we kick off Burnsfest with regular monthly event Tiny Tales, for little ones aged 6 months to 2 years, on Tuesday 17 January at 10am and 11.30am. Claire McNicol draws inspiration from Burns’ rich language, promising an entertaining, enthralling and informative morning for youngsters, as well as fun mythical musings about the Loch Ness Monster.

Master storyteller, performer and entertainer Andy Cannon returns with accomplished cellist Wendy Weatherby for crowd-pleasing family show Oor Rabbie, on Saturday 21 January at 4pm, which was a sell out in 2009. The duo feed the audience bite-sized information about Rabbie’s diverse life with crystal clear clarity and live music, interjected with recitals of the Bard’s most famous works including Address to a Haggis, a heart-rending tale of homeless rodent, Tae a Mouse, and a lively, interactive version of the spooky Tam O’Shanter. Witty, energetic and educational with plenty of participation, Oor Rabbie is based on genuine respect for a great poet and is a must see event for all families with children aged 6+.

Then the Centre presents a full day of Burns related activities, including music and marionettes, on Saturday 28 January entitled Burns Family Festival Day, featuring music and song throughout the day in our Café. The day’s events kick off with Tim Porteus presenting Burns in the City! at 10.30am. Explore Burns together using interactive tales, rhyme and movement as Tim guides you through a fun-filled morning retracing Burns’ first visit to Edinburgh and his affection for this great city.

Then the Wonderful Sylvia Troon showcases the early life of Burns and how it influenced the man he became in Rabbie as a Laddie at 2pm, which Sylvia sums up best when she states “Rabbie as a Laddie brings the past alive in a fascinating way with storytelling and authentic-looking puppet characters”. Plus, the young Burns marionette is truly adorable!

We round up our Family Day with an event for young and old alike to enjoy Burns’ verse and music with Simply Burns at 3pm. Burns could only have approved of an alternative afternoon of Scots tale, music and song in fine company. Combining atmospheric readings of some of his best loved poems and personal thoughts with songs inspired by his verse, Simply Burns is an event that celebrates the very best of The Bard in a captivating revue presented by a trio of fantastic entertainers (Linda Dewar, Douglas Craik and Anna Hepburn) who make Burns accessible to all.

Adult Burns

As well as Simply Burns above, the Centre hosts three more varied events for adults to let their hair down and enjoy the beginning of this New Year through traditional arts that are guaranteed to enthral. Our regular free event Café Ceilidh, featuring Linten Adie, dedicate many a Scottish lilt to Burns on Monday 23 January at 2pm, and Edinburgh’s monthly storytelling club Guid Crack is Inspired by Burns on Friday 27 January at 7.30pm. Hosted by Kati Waitzmann, expect tales of timorous beasties, fair deeds and plenty of musings on the fairer sex in an evening of laughter and sharing, upstairs in the Waverley Bar.

Plus, after three years of sell-outs, Supper with Burns at the Tass Bar returns for three nights, offering the perfect mix of old and new as reviewer, Lara Dunston perfectly sums up: “An entertaining piece of drama that skilfully interwove stories about Burns’ life with his songs and poetry within the traditional Burns Supper format.” 

Come along on Monday 23, Tuesday 24 or Wednesday 25 January at 7pm for a winning combination of Scottish storytelling served with hearty haggis, neeps and tatties. Let your stomachs be filled and your souls be enriched with songs, stories and poetry from master storytellers David Campbell, Linda Bandelier and Donald Smith. The trio avoid Burns kitsch with a fresh take and exciting twist on the usual Burns Supper, offering a chance to discover the real, radical spirit of the man which echoes throughout his work. Burns surreal imagination, instinctive democratic radicalism and his celebration of love and desire in a culture famed for repression and hypocrisy is all explored, with a wry smile of course…

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Lindsay Corr is Marketing Officer at the Scottish Storytelling Centre