Skip Navigation

Big Burns Day

28 January 2020

A series of events took place in Belfast City Hall with invited guests, schools and community groups taking part.

Belfast City Hall was the venue for Big Burns Day today as schools and community groups from all over the city came together to learn about Robert Burns, his connections to Belfast and impact on the culture of the Ulster-Scots community.

Ulster-Scots Agency Chief Executive, Ian Crozier, said, “Big Burns Day is the highlight of a week long programme of events to highlight Ulster’s enduring affection for Robert Burns and his strong ties to us, which ensure that 200 years after his life, the connection is as strong as ever.” 

The morning session, which was opened by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Danny Baker, saw 150 primary school pupils learning about the songs and poetry of Burns, the Ulster-Scots language, Scottish jigs and their link to lambeg drumming.  They also learned about Burns Night traditions, got to taste some haggis and learned to sing Burns’ most famous song, Auld Lang Syne.

After lunch, 150 adults from church and community groups around the city came together to hear Burns poetry, enjoy a demonstration of Scottish Country Dancing and performances by the Pipes and Drums of Campbell College.

In the evening, 50 guests from the Ulster-Scots community and beyond were joined by the new Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA, for the launch of a new publication, Belfast’s Bonnie Burns, which explores the Scottish Bard’s links to Ulster, the reasons for his popularity here and how the Ulster-Scots community has celebrated Burns from his own lifetime to the present day.

Belfast in particular has a unique relationship with Burns, as the first place beyond Scotland where his work was published; home to members of his family and close friends; home to one of the world’s oldest Burns Clubs; and home of the largest collection of Burns material in the world outwith Scotland, which is held at the Linen Hall Library.

Speaking at the event, Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA said: “As we enter into a new period in working to deliver New Decade, New Approach, which promises greater respect for diversity across all of our cultural identities, it is a particular pleasure to be at the launch of this valuable resource that will help all of us to see our connection with Ulster-Scots. 

This new booklet highlights the appeal of Burns and how his work is appreciated and has engaged people across all communities down the years.  It charts the great connection of Robert Burns to the city of Belfast and his continuing cultural legacy in our part of the world.”


Big Burns Day was organised by the Ulster-Scots Agency in partnership with Belfast City Council and community partners Small Steps, the Ulster-Scots Community Network, Belfast Burns Club and the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Belfast Branch.


For more information