Maybe it’s time to try an alternative to the traditional Burns Night?

Is it any wonder that the Burns Supper is one of Scotland’s most popular traditions?

Not only is the Scottish bard more than worthy of celebration, but what better way to warm a cold and dark January evening than fellowship and good food and drink? 

The thing about a two hundred-year-old tradition, though, is it can be a little staid. 

And while there is undoubtedly still an appetite for addressing the haggis, toasting the assembled lassies and laddies, and joining hands for Auld Lang Syne, there’s no reason each and every Burns Night celebration has to follow the tried-and-tested formula. 

“Clearly, you’ll find many traditional haggis, neeps & tatties menus and at One Square in the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, we’ve hosted many successful dinners based on this format,” said Nicholas Durham, director of food and beverage for the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa. 

“But my advice to those venues who haven’t hosted previous Burns Nights would be to consider an alternative to the traditional format. 

“For example, we’ve previously served a pairing of haggis, black pudding and apple sausage roll alongside a crisp Black Isle Brewery Red Kite amber ale, and our neeps and tatties hash browns are always a popular choice. 

“You don’t need to stick to the traditional format; focus on quality ingredients, but use the opportunity to be inventive and surprise customers.”


Kirsten Blackburn, head of marketing at The Borders Distillery, agreed. 

“While traditional Burns Suppers always provide a real touch of theatre, they’re not to everyone’s taste and there are so many ways we can celebrate the bard while still conveying that essence and pride of Scotland,” she said. 

Blackburn also reckoned there’s a chance to extend the occasion beyond Burns Night itself by incorporating more Scottish seasonal food and drink on menus.

That was echoed by James Evans, brand manager for Kingsbarns Distillery at Wemyss Family Spirits. 

“Why keep Burns Night promotions to one night only because there’s a real opportunity to capture the essence of what has become a globally recognised event and Scottish brand,” said Evans.  

“Embrace it – Scotland’s heritage and traditions are there to be celebrated. 

“It’s not just about haggis, neeps and tatties with a dram of Scotland’s finest whisky; menus and promotions can be tailored throughout the month to drive footfall and sales post-Christmas rather than ring-fenced to one day. 

“Whisky tastings, Burns Suppers and whisky flight promotions such as Malt of the Month and pairings with haggis are additional offerings that would give consumers a reason to socialise.”

There’s a chance to incorporate whisky in less traditional ways, too. 

Blackburn at The Borders Distillery said: “Whisky is synonymous with Burns Night and you can get creative with it in drinks serves and in food – think a nice whisky cream sauce, whisky ice-cream or whisky cured smoked salmon. 

“A local baker in Hawick, Hunters, makes an incredible whisky cake using our Clan Fraser Reserve.    

“Some Scottish tapas – for example with a whisky flight – could really enhance your whisky sales, or a half and half offering, which probably would have been right up Burns’ alley.”