New Robert Burns festival to feature speed whisky tasting and silent disco

The Burns & Beyond festival will take over some of Edinburgh's most historic spaces at the end of January. Picture: contributed
The Burns & Beyond festival will take over some of Edinburgh's most historic spaces at the end of January. Picture: contributed
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Speed whisky tasting, an outdoor silent disco under a giant glitterball, a Hebridean village hall ceilidh and Tam O’Shanter recital accompanied by dance performances will transform some of Edinburgh’s most historic spaces as part of a new Robert Burns-inspired festival.

Organisers of the new Burns & Beyond festival will also recreate an 18th century Enlightenment-era tavern, stage a club night with an all-female line-up of DJs and run an underground comedy club.

Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh University’s New College Quad and St Giles Cathedral will host one-off events, along with a century-old masonic hall on George Street, a 19th century merchants hall on Frederick Street and a former church on Rose Street.

They will be transformed as part of a £25-a-head Burns & Beyond Culture Trail, which will be staged for four hours on Saturday 26 January.

It is hoped up to 3000 people will take part in the centrepiece of the new £250,000 festival, which is being funded by the Scottish Government and Edinburgh City Council.

• READ MORE: Video: On the trail of Robert Burns in Edinburgh

It is hoped the event, which will extend the city’s winter festival season to 10 weeks, will become an annual fixture at one of the quietest times in the city’s tourism calendar.

Unique Events, the firm which founded Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, has revived the format of its hugely-popular Scot:Lands event, which was staged on New Year’s Day for several years.

Ticket-holders for the new event will be sent to one of eight different venues to start their own trail around Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns. Audiences will be encouraged to keep moving on during the night to ensure they experience each venue and its line-up of performers.

Key collaborators with Unique Events include the Isle of Eigg based musician Johnny Lynch, better known as The Pictish Trail, the Edinburgh arts collective Neu! Reekie!, Musicians from the award-winning folk trio Lau, Fringe promoters Gilded Balloon and silent disco firm Silent Adventures.

A spokeswoman for Burns & Beyond, which will run from 22-27 January, said: “Audiences will embark on a cultural journey, discovering hidden performances on a trail leading them to eight landmark buildings and secret spaces spread across the city centre.

“Venues will be transformed, providing surprises throughout the night, as audiences will only find out who is performing in each venue when they get there.”

Other in the Burns & Beyond line-up include a free family ceilidh, pop-up appearances by the Nevis Ensemble street orchestra and an alternative Burns Supper.

Unique Events director Alan Thomson said: “We love our rich cultural landscape, and are proud of our heritage and notoriously warm hospitality. What better way to bring it all together than around Burns Night?”

Roddy Smith, chief executive of city centre business group Essential Edinburgh, said: “We have such a rich cultural heritage it is fitting that the city centre is hosting much of the celebration of the life of our national Bard.”