We love Burns Night

By Emily Howie

Each January, our alumni around the world gather to celebrate all things Burns, eat haggis, sing and dance and share stories and memories of Glasgow. This year, the 265th anniversary of Rabbie’s birth, was no exception – we held a jam-packed series of Burns alumni events here in the UK, overseas, and online. 

Our celebrations kicked off in London on Friday 12 January at the fabulous Caledonian Club. Dr Clark McGinn (MA 1983, PhD 2014) thrilled guests with his entertaining Address to the Haggis and an insightful Immortal Memory. Clark has been regaling UofG alumni associations on Burns Night for 20 years since the very first international alumni Burns Supper in Boston in 2004.

"I love Burns Suppers, mainly because that's how Burns himself would have enjoyed showcasing his poems and songs – in the company of friends after a good dinner with a glass in his hand! – Dr Clark McGinn, our regular Alumni Burns Supper speaker

Alumni from around the world joined two online events on Wednesday 24 January for 'Burns Studies at Glasgow: past, present and future', to hear from our Burns experts sharing highlights from their research and celebrating the award of the Queen's Anniversary Prize. 

In Glasgow, alumni, staff, students and friends gathered in the spectacular setting of the Bute Hall on Saturday 27 January. Hosted by the Principal, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, guests heard from Clark McGinn who again gave a spectacular Address to the Haggis and toasted the Bard. Guests also enjoyed a beautiful selection of Scottish songs performed by singer Emily Smith, before ceilidh dancing till the small hours. 

Clark and the chocolate haggis

The series continued with a Burns Reception in Washington DC at The Hamilton on Thursday 1 February, where alumni were welcomed to the venue by alumnus-piper Alasdair Cain (BEng 1996). The lively event was hosted by Vice Principal and Head of College of Arts & Humanities, Professor Jo Gill, and guests were once again treated to Clark McGinn's toast and address, although this time to a slightly unusual chocolate haggis [right]. "Importing haggis into the USA has been illegal for years," says Clark, "and we couldn't find a chef in Washington DC brave (or foolish!) enough to make one from scratch. So we took a chocolate one instead!" Clark composed a special alternative Address to the Haggis for this occasion.

The season ended on Saturday February 3 at the historic Hampshire House in Boston with a fabulous Burns Supper, more from Clark, and topped off with a live traditional band and dancing well into the night. 

Our alumni associations also got in the Burns spirit, with the newly created Azerbaijan Alumni Association hosting a Burns night event of their own!

Video 1

The Burns alumni event in Glasgow ended with a lively Burns Supper and ceilidh in the spectacular Kelvin Gallery of the main building.

This article was first published April 2024.

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