Edinburgh's Burns & Beyond festival to return with celebration of Scottish pop
Edinburgh is to bring back its Robert Burns-inspired arts festival to coincide with the National Bard’s birthday in January.
Nine days of events are to be staged at St Giles Cathedral and the Assembly Rooms, including a celebration of Scottish rock and pop, a vast art installation made out of thousands of origami doves, an “alternative Burns Supper” and stand-up comedy.
A full programme of in-person events is being planned after the event was forced to go ahead in an online-only format last year due to Covid restrictions.
The Assembly Rooms, on George Street, will be turned into an official Burns & Beyond “festival club”.
Highlights of the festival, organised by Edinburgh-based Unique Events, include a stripped-back acoustic show by indie rock outfit The Twilight Sad, Celtic fusion band Treacherous Orchestra and post-rock duo Arab Strap.
Running from January 21-February 5, the festival will feature an alternative Burns Supper curated by Edinburgh arts collective Neu! Reekie! and a comedy night hosted by Fred MacAulay featuring Larry Dean, Susie McCabe, Des Clarke and Maisie Adam.
Broadcaster Vic Galloway, who wrote the book Rip it Up to accompany a 2019 National Museum of Scotland exhibition on the history of Scottish pop and rock, is curating a live concert incarnation for the festival.
Del Amitri frontman Justin Currie, Teenage Fanclub singer Norman Blake and former Scottish Album of the Year winner Kathryn Joseph will be performing classic tracks spanning seven decades.
The event will also feature Honeyblood singer Stina Tweeddale, The Rezillos stars Eugene Reynolds and Fay Fife, and singer-songwriter Emma Pollock.
Burns & Beyond has secured the first Scottish appearance of artist Michael Pendry’s “Les Colombes” installation, which has previously appeared in Munich, London, Jerusalem, Buenos Aires, San Francisco and New York.
Around 2,500 folded white paper doves will be suspended from the cathedral’s roof to deliver a message of “hope, humanity and new beginnings”. Businesses and schools will be urged to create their own versions of Les Colombes.
Launched in 2019, Burns & Beyond evolved from a festival staged on and around Rose Street in the previous two years.
Previous acts to perform include Edwyn Collins, KT Tunstall, Stanley Odd, Tide Lines, Pictish Trail, Ricky Ross and Roddy Woomble.
Unique Events directors Al Thomson and Penny Dougherty said: “We’re thrilled to welcome back audiences and performers to Burns & Beyond for what promises to be a very special series of live event experiences.
"We can’t wait to brighten up the dark nights, celebrating the life and legacy of Robert Burns through spectacular live music, poetry, comedy and whisky, from across Scotland and beyond.”
The Twilight Sad singer James Graham said: “We're just happy to be back out there doing what we love again.
“We’re extremely grateful and honoured to be taking part in Burns & Beyond. As someone who tries to convey emotions through words, I’m in awe of Robert Burns’ genius.”
Arab Strap said: “We're very much looking forward to playing one of Edinburgh's loveliest venues in honour of the ‘Ploughman Poet’ himself.
"Burns loved a bit of bawd, and he hated slavery, monarchy, and social inequality too, so we like to think he'd be pleased to have us."