If you want to take part in a traditional Scottish celebration this January, there’s no need to travel to Glasgow or Edinburgh – we’re raising a glass to Robert Burns right here in Kent.
Whether you want to tuck into a plate of haggis or enjoy a warming whisky on Burns Night, which takes place on Wednesday, January 25, there are plenty of places in the county that are worth a visit.
Faversham brewery Shepherd Neame is serving up a taste of Scotland at two of its pubs this month.
There will be a toast to the day’s namesake, poet and lyricist Robert Burns, at The Vine in Tenterden – which is managed by proud Scot Fraser Johnston – on Friday, January 27.
Fraser, who grew up a stone’s throw from the poet’s birthplace in South Ayrshire, will be welcoming guests with a piper, a reading of Burns’ poem Address to a Haggis and a four-course meal.
“I grew up with the whole thing – it is a passion of mine,” says the pub manager. “When I was at school, I took part in many poetry competitions reading his poems, which are in ‘Old Scots’.
It is something I care about; I just love doing it. And I will be wearing a kilt – I pride myself on the family Johnston tartan – if I could, I would wear a kilt all the time!”
The menu for the evening includes cullen skink – a soup made of smoked haddock and steamed potato – haggis, neeps and tatties, venison steak and Scottish oat, cream and whisky dessert, cranachan.
The evening will finish with a free shot of Glenfiddich whisky.
This special menu, created by Sheps’ development chef Gareth Finney and priced at £37.95, will also be available with a whisky tasting session on Thursday, January 26 from 12pm.
There will also be a second tutored tasting session, along with a helping of the Burns Night menu, at the Sun Inn in Faversham on Thursday, January 26 from 6pm.
Shepherd Neame aren’t the only big name to get stuck into the Scottish holiday as pub chain Wetherspoon will also be offering customers traditional Scottish eats this month.
The chain, which has locations all over Kent, will be offering haggis, neeps and tatties and a Caledonian burger with haggis and whisky sauce as part of their exclusive Burns Week menu from Monday, January 23 to Sunday, January 29.
The drink choices for these two new meal deals will include a pint of Belhaven’s Robert Burns ale, as well as a selection of Scottish guest ales, whiskies, gins and beers.
Nicholson’s pubs are also getting involved, with their Kent location – the Old Buttermarket in Canterbury – offering a Scottish set menu and curated whisky flight from Friday, January 20 to Wednesday, January 25.
The menu includes smoked salmon, Scotch broth, haggis, Balmoral chicken and cranachan, and the flight features three 25ml shots of specially selected whiskies.
Two courses, including the flight, costs £29.50, while three courses will set you back £33.50.
Browns in Bluewater, near Greenhithe, are also serving up a set menu for one night only, which includes three courses of hearty Scottish food.
The menu, which will only be available on Burns Night, costs £30 for three courses, with the option of adding whisky pairings for £16.
If you’re looking for more than just dinner, there are a number of places hosting a full-blown celebration of the poet’s life and legacy.
The historic lost village of Dode, near Luddesdown, will be marking the bard’s birthday with a black tie (or highland dress) event, featuring music, dancing and an eight-course menu on Burns Night.
However, it costs £65 per person and guests are asked to bring their own booze, so don’t expect a cheap night out.
For a more budget-friendly event, you can visit Hadlow Manor in Tonbridge.
The hotel, which recently announced its closure at the end of January, will be going out with a bang as Burns Night marks its last official event. The evening includes a piper, poetry readings, a four-course meal and music from the resident DJ until midnight.
It all takes place on Friday, January 28 and costs £35 per person, with the option to stay over also available at an additional cost.
Last but not least, Albion House in Ramsgate is cooking up treats such as shortbread, haggis and leek and potato soup as part of its five-course meal on Saturday, January 28 – but the evening doesn’t end when the plates are cleared.
The festivities will continue well into the night, with live entertainment including bagpipes, sonnets, fireside whisky and a ceilidh band to ensure Robert Burns’ birthday is commemorated in style.
It costs £70 per person and includes a complimentary glass of fizz.