Burns Night 2019 in Argyll: how and where to celebrate

Burns Night is celebrated on 25th January, Robert Burns’ birthday. Across Scotland people pay tribute to the poet’s life and work by eating haggis, drinking whisky and reciting poetry at a Burns Supper. It’s a great way to learn more about Burns and experience the best of Scottish hospitality and tradition.

Many of the pubs, hotels and restaurants across Argyll will host a Burns Supper and you’ll find that lots of Argyll communities hold Burns Night events in village halls. These are often on the Saturday night nearest to Burns Night. Or how about holding your own Burns Supper at home? You can use local Argyll produce, from award-winning haggis to world-class whisky. If you would like to celebrate Burns Night in Argyll, then here’s how.

The traditions

The centre piece to any Burns Night celebration is the Burns Supper, which can be formal or informal. Haggis, neeps and tatties are served along with a dram or two of whisky. Throughout the evening, Burns’ poems and songs and recited and enjoyed. There’s normally a running order to the event and certain traditions are followed. It all starts with a toast to the haggis. Prompted by the speaker the audience raises a glass and shouts: ‘The haggis!’ At the end of the evening everyone joins hands for a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne. There might even be a spot of post-dinner ceilidh dancing. 

Tasting whisky

Burns Suppers in Argyll

For a fabulous four-course Burns Supper featuring delicious Scottish produce, book a table at Helensburgh’s Sugar Boat. Smoked haddock, haggis, neeps and tatties, roast rump of beef and cranachan 'pavlova' are all on the menu. The haggis will be piped in by a piper and Loch Lomond Distillery will be on hand to provide a selection of malt whiskies on the night. Tickets costs £35. Call 01436 647 522 to book.

The Lorne Bar in Dunoon is hosting its annual Burns Night event on Friday 25th January at 7pm. Expect great food and a few surprises. Call 01369 701777 to book your table. The Holy Loch Inn in Sandbank, Dunoon is holding its Annual Burns Dinner, with a three course dinner, speeches, tales of old and pipes by Ronnie Black. There will also be a Scottish-themes bingo! Tickets cost £19.95. Call 01369 706903 to book. 

A great family-friendly option is Burns Night at The Boat House at Cameron House on Loch Lomond. Enjoy a welcome drinks reception followed by a four-course meal and then ceilidhs dance the night away. Tickets costs £45 per adult, £20 per child and under 5s are free.

If you like your malt, then the traditional Burns Supper at Ardbeg Distillery on Islay on Saturday 26th January should be right up your street. Ardbeg Distillery is steeped in tradition – the perfect place to celebrate Burns Night in Argyll. The supper includes Scottish classics such as cock-a-leekie soup and raspberry cranachan, as well as haggis and a few drams. Tickets cost £25 and you can buy your tickets online.

You’re spoilt for choice in Oban when it comes to Burns Night. Most of the hotels in and around Oban will put on a Burns Supper. Or you could head out of town to the Barn Bar in Lerags Glen near Oban. This award-winning rustic bar and restaurant in a converted cattle byre has bags of charm. The Burns Night celebrations on Saturday, 26th January include live music with Angus Smith and a three-course Burns Supper. You can buy tickets on 01631 564618.

The Hebridean Lodge restaurant in Baliscate on Mull is open on Friday 25th January serving up a special Scottish-themed menu.

Community events

Join the Burns Night Supper at Gibson Hall Community Centre in Garelochhead on Saturday 26th January. Tickets are £10 and must be bought before the event.

On the island of Mull, Ulva School Community Association is hosting a Family Burns Lunch at Ulva primary School on Saturday 26th January. Enjoy a traditional three-course lunch with haggis supplied by Ballygown Restaurant, all the usual toasts and musical entertainment.  This wonderful community event costs £15 for adults and children go free. Contact Ann Hayes on 01688 500 301 to book.

In Dunoon on the Cowal peninsula Parents of Dunoon Primary Learning Centre is holding a Quiz Night and Karaoke at the Puffer Bar on Queen's Street on Friday 25th January at 7pm. It costs £15 per team of four and that price includes haggis, needs and tatties. Register you team at The Puffer. 

Whisky bars

If you just fancy a few drams on Burns Night, Argyll has some excellent whisky bars to choose from. Ardshiel Hotel in Campbeltown, Kintyre boasts a whisky bar that has more than 700 malts to choose from and was in the Financial Times’ top five Scottish bars for Burns Night. A wide range of malt whisky is offered at the bar of Oban's Kings Knoll Hotel, where your taste buds can take you on a journey along the west coast of Scotland. This lovely hotel enjoys magnificent views overlooking Oban Bay and the Sound of Kerrera.

Ardsheil Whisky Bar

Argyll produce

Feast on some of Argyll’s finest local produce this Burns Night. The key to your Burns Supper is the haggis and most Argyll butchers will have some extremely tasty versions for sale. Jeanette Cutlack at Ballygown Restaurant by Ulva Ferry on the island of Mull makes the only homemade haggis available to buy in Argyll.  Isle of Mull Haggis is made with local meat from the Mull Slaughterhouse. You can buy it directly from Ballygown or in some of the local shops in Mull, including the Tobermory Fish Co. shop, the Ardnacross Farm Shop and Calgary Tearoom. Ballygown Restaurant is also hosting a Burns Supper on Friday 25th January. Call 01688 500 113 to book.

With 15 world-class distilleries dotting what’s known as the ‘whisky coast’, you’ll never be short of a decent dram to accompany your Burns Supper in Argyll. There are some great local ales being produced in Argyll too. Try Islay Ales, Colonsay Ales and Fyne Ales this Burns Night.

And to finish off, how about some Wee Isle Dairy Ice Cream, which is made in small batches on Gigha? We reckon the bramble and whisky flavour is just the thing for Burns Night!

Find out more about Argyll produce at www.foodfromargyll.co.uk.

Highland Mary

Mary Campbell, immortalized as ‘Highland Mary’ by Burns, has Argyll connections. She spent her childhood in Campbeltown in Kintyre and lived in a house just across from Glen Scotia Distillery. You can see a a plaque on the distillery wall about her. Highland Mary and Burns became engaged in 1786 but she died in Greenock a year later. If you’re in Dunoon, make sure you pay a visit to the statue of ‘Mary' Campbell. She’s stands on the hill opposite Dunoon Pier gazing wistfully southwards to her lover's Ayrshire home.