Ellisland Farm Recreates World’s First Burns Supper at Sunny Burns Celebration

The world’s first ever Burns supper, which was held in summer, will be recreated next month at Ellisland Farm and Museum. The Sunny Burns Celebration is part of an exciting summer events programme bringing the spirit of Scotland’s beloved poet into the present. It includes live music, children’s activities, 18th-century dancing and events honouring the women who inspired Robert Burns, including Mary Queen of Scots and his beloved wife, Jean Armour.

Children can join free butter, cheese, and candle-making workshops that include a lunch where they get to eat the cheese and butter they’ve made with honey from Ellisland’s very own bees.

The Sunny Burns Celebration, recreating the first ever Burns Supper on 21 July, will feature storytelling, arts and crafts, face-painting, games and live music.

The programme is made possible thanks to funding from Historic Environment Scotland, Museum Galleries Scotland, The People’s Postcode Lottery, Dumfries and Galloway Council Summer Programme, and the Live Literature scheme.

Siobhan McDonald, project manager at Ellisland Farm & Museum, said:

“We are thrilled to welcome so many wonderful scholars, authors, and speakers, not to mention our incredible volunteers, to Ellisland for this summer’s events. We couldn’t do this without them or the support of funders of the ‘Burns, Barns, and Byre’ project.”

She added: “ Many people do not know the first Burns Supper was held by the poet’s friends and admirers not on his birthday, but on 21st July, a year after he died. It’s a great time to get the whole family out to have some fun and it will be very informal. We will continue adding exciting events to our line-up, so we encourage everyone to check our website, Facebook, and Instagram for updates. We look forward to celebrating Scotland’s rich cultural heritage with you this summer!”

Event Schedule:

• Friday, 5 July: Children can join cheese-making, butter-making, and candle-making workshops. Tickets are free, but booking is essential as space is limited. All children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

• Friday, 12 July: A second chance for children to participate in cheese-making, butter-making, and candle-making workshops. Tickets are free, but booking is essential.

• Saturday, 13 July: The Historic Dance Society presents ‘Robert Burns in Song & Dance,’ an interactive session led by Sue Knight. Participants can explore 18th-century Scottish dances and even try out some of the dances Robert Burns himself enjoyed. This is a pay-what-you-feel event.

• Sunday, 21 July, 12-4 pm: Sunny Burns Bash: A Summer Celebration. This event celebrates the first Burns supper with live music, dance performances, games, arts and crafts, face-painting, and more. Entrance is free, with some individual activities offered for a small charge.

• Saturday, 10 August: World-renowned scholar Professor Gerard Carruthers will give a lecture titled ‘Mary Queen of Scots at Ellisland.’ This talk explores Robert Burns’s role in the romantic re-imagining of Mary as a Scottish icon.

• Saturday, 17 August: Author Catherine Czerkawska and Bryce and Ashlea Cunningham of Mossgiel Farm will host an event exploring the life of Robert Burns and Jean Armour. The Ethical Dairy will provide cheese samples to honour Burns and Armour’s dairying heritage.

The Robert Burns Ellisland Trust, the charity that safeguards the site, is appealing for volunteers to help run different stalls for the Sunny Burns Bash. The Trust also seeks donations of baked goods to sell and items for prizes. Prizes can be dropped off at Ellisland Farm, but please call ahead to ensure a staff member is on-site. Contact the Ellisland team to arrange volunteering or drop-off times for perishable items like cakes and biscuits.