Irish Inspiration Celebrated at Major Scottish Burns Night Festival

29 November 2015

Top Irish talent at nine-day event and carnival inspired by huge success of St Patrick’s Day celebrations and Dublin Fringe

Irish talent including comedians Jason Byrne and Andrew Maxwell, vocalist Camille O’Sullivan and the Dublin Legends are taking top spots in Scotland’s nine-day Big Burns Supper festival.

The link is more than coincidental as the event’s artistic director, Graham Main, learned his trade at the Dublin Fringe Festival and as the youngest ever producer with Dublin Opera Festival.

Indeed – it’s largely thanks to Ireland and what it has achieved with the St Patrick’s Day celebrations that Big Burns Supper exists in the first place.

January 2016 will be the fifth Big Burns Supper and one of the main attractions is the annual Burns Carnival, taking place on Sunday 24 January, which was directly inspired by Graham’s experiences working on Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade.

He said: “Working in Ireland had a huge impact on me and when I saw what has been done with the St Patrick’s Day celebrations I realised we should take it for our inspiration and start to turn Burns Night into a big, fun and public celebration.

“My home town of Dumfries was ideal for this as it’s a place he lived, loved, reveled and wrote some of his greatest work.

“Big Burns Supper is now one of Scotland’s fastest growing winter festivals and is developing all the time – and as it’s our fifth birthday I wanted 2016 to do something to really mark those Irish connections.

“What we’re offering is a rich mix of the current and the classic, for every taste and age group with an event which is shaped by the spirit of Burns and takes joy in all that’s best in life.”

Other well-known names at the festival include Black Grape, The Beat and Scottish singer Eddi Reader, the Scots trad Treacherous Orchestra and comedian Andrew Maxwell.

Big Burns Supper 2016 has received support as part of the Scotland’s Winter Festivals events programme.

The event, from 22-30 January, will be overflowing with party spirit from start to finish. On the 25th, theBard’s birthday itself, there will be the festival’s own fifth birthday party, featuring special guest performers, and a family Burns Supper for around 300 inside the mirror-lined Spiegeltent which is the event’s main venue.

Another major highlight is Le Haggis III which sees a triumphant return to Dumfries of the saucy and spectacular Caledonian cabaret after its award-winning run at the Edinburgh-Fringe. As ever it will be a feast of Scottish and international circus, aerial dance and music – featuring some of the country’s best young trad and folk musicians.

There will also be a strong emphasis on children’s entertainment with the arrival of Celtic Circus, a Spiegeltent show with acrobatic thrills and spills to delight a younger audience.

Dumfries children themselves take command for a series of By Kids activities. One will be the pop-up Salon 1962, where adults will have their nails and make-up done by enthusiastic Lochside Primary School pupils. The most daring will also have their hair cut!

As a “thank you” to the Big Burns Supper’s many loyal supporters the festival will be bringing back some highly popular acts from previous years. These include the magnificent singer songwriter, and huge champion of Rabbie Burns, Eddi Reader and also the wonderful Inner Mongolian musicians of Anda Union.

There will be a new performance and bar area at the Spiegeltent where audiences will find themselves in the capable hands of Big Burns Supper 2016 Mistress of Ceremonies the ever-bonnie, if occasionally unshaven, Misschief Amor.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: “The Big Burns Supper, which is now in its fifth year, is the perfect opportunity to celebrate our Scottish identity. I congratulate the festival organisers for another impressive performance line-up and I’d encourage friends, families and loved ones to come together to take part.

“The celebrations are part of the Scottish Government’s Winter Festivals programme which this year has been provided with a record £390,000 of funding to support 21 key cultural events in 15 local authority areas across the country.”

VisitScotland Regional Director Paula McDonald said: “The Big Burns Supper has fast become a real favourite of our regional events calendar and it’s fantastic to see it attracting more and more visitors to the region every year. It’s a unique, exciting and vibrant celebration which embodies and befits our national Bard. The event is brimming with spirited character, spontaneity, irreverent humour and bawdy fun, and is underpinned by great music and story-telling.

“The celebrations are part of the Scottish Government’s Winter Festivals programme which this year has been provided with a record £390,000 of funding to support 21 key cultural events in 15 local authority areas across the country.”
Tickets for Big Burns Supper are now on sale at www.bigburnssupper.com and from the box office at 28 Munches Street, Dumfries or by calling 01387 271820. Box Office is open from 9am – 5pm, Monday to Saturday.

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