Hire A Bagpiper For Your Burns Night Event
I have been playing the bagpipes at Burns’ Suppers since the age of 14. They are fantastic events celebrating the life and poetry of Scotland’s most famous poet, Rabbie Burns. The events are held around the poet’s birthday on the 25th January or basically from the middle of January until the beginning of February. Traditionally the events involve readings of Burns Poetry, a 5 course meal including haggis, neeps and tatties, whisky tastings, bagpipe and ceilidh music.
Burns Suppers are celebrated in restaurants, pubs, village halls, schools, residential homes, golf clubs, and masonic lodges all over the UK and abroad. They are great events to host in communities to bring people together, have fun, learn some culture, dance and eat great food during the January blues period.
The Role of the Bagpiper on Burns Night
A bagpiper is an essential part of any Burns Night. Traditionally the piper will begin the evening by playing outside the venue as guests arrive. He / she will then be required to pipe in the haggis either before the first course is served or just after the first course. The tune that is traditionally played is ‘A Man’s A Man For A That’ . Following the piper will be the chef carrying the haggis. The piper parades the haggis around the dining room for all to see and stops at a presentation table where the haggis will be placed. .An invited compare / toastmaster will then theatrically recite The ‘Address To A Haggis’ which involves stabbing the haggis when reading out the verse:
“His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Traditionally there should be three glasses of whiskey for toasting the haggis. One for the compare / toastmaster, one for the piper and one for the chef. The haggis is toasted by all three after the last line ‘Gie Her A Haggis’. The piper then parades the haggis out of the dining room for it to be served. This is either the last point of call for the piper or he / she may be invited to eat with the guests and play music in between courses or after the final course.
Burns lunches are very popular with residential homes. It’s an immensely fun way to provide entertainment, food and music for elderly residents. Usually the staff decorate the main lounge / dining room with Scottish flags and bunting , cover the buffet tables with tartan table covers , provide a glass of whiskey for residents and put out a spread of food including haggis, neeps and tatties. I’m always amazed by how many elderly people have never tried haggis! The staff are often dressed up in Scottish fancy dress and will dance to the bagpipes and sing along to tunes such as Flower of Scotland, Loch Lomond and Auld Lang Syne. It goes down well with the residents and they always love having the opportunity to have their photo taken with a bagpiper clad in full Scottish attire! They also love to tell stories about their trips to Scotland, or how the bagpipes reminded them of their time in the services. It really is a wonderful way for the hosts of residential homes to provide an experience that’s different, fun and exciting for their elderly residents.
I play at a lot of different residential homes over the Burns period each year but I gratefully receive repeat bookings to play at Valley Lodge Nursing Home in Matock, Hayfield Place in Shiregreen, Sheffield, Loxley Park in Sheffield and also the Wellbeing Centre in Norfolk Park, Sheffield.
In 2017 I appeared in an article for the Huddersifeld Examiner which includes a video clip of me playing the bagpipes at a Burns event at Lindlay Grange Care Home in Huddersfield. You can view the article and video by clicking HERE.