Haggis heads up salute to Rabbie Burns

Raise your glass, tuck into some haggis, join in a commemoration or enjoy a concert as Victorians pause to celebrate Rabbie Burns at various events this weekend.

Robert Burns was only 37 when he died in 1796, but his poetry has endured over hundreds of years. Burns Suppers (featuring haggis, of course) take place all round the world on or near Jan. 25, his birthday.

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Known as Scotland’s national poet, Burns wrote 500 poems in the language of ordinary people, celebrating love, nature and the funny aspects of life. His poems speak of a strong love of Scotland, a love that has been reciprocated.

An granite memorial, with a bronze statue of Burns and his muse, Highland Mary, was erected in Beacon Hill Park by Victoria’s Scots community more than 100 years ago.

Locally designed and built, the memorial originally included a drinking fountain. The pipes failed in the 1950s and weren’t replaced, but the lion’s head and basin remains.

Events planned include:

Saturday

• Burns Day at Craigdarroch Castle. Where better to celebrate the day than in a Scottish castle? Get your tartan on for an afternoon of bagpipes, an address to the haggis and haggis tasting. Entertainment will be provided by Celtic band Cookeilidh, who will perform two sets of lively Kilt-ic music.

Admission to the castle is $14.85 for adults, $13.85 for seniors, $9.75 for students and $5.35 for children. Admission includes all festivities and entertainment. The event runs 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the castle, 1050 Joan Cres. For more information, go to thecastle.ca.

Sunday

• Burns Commemoration at the Burns Memorial Statue in Beacon Hill Park (across from the petting zoo) includes a wreath-laying, piping of Scottish tunes and a recitation of one of Burns’ poems. Sprigs of heather tied in a ribbon will be handed to everyone who attends. The event, which is free to join, runs from 1:45 to 2:15 p.m.

• The Rabbie Burns Celebration at Brentwood Bay’s Centre for Active Living includes a parade in and salute to the haggis with Bob Williamson, along with performances by Knackers Yard and Scottish Country Dancers.

Refreshments, sandwiches and goodies are available. The event is $20 for guests and $15 for members and runs 1:30 to 5 p.m., Sunday at the Centre for Active Living, 1229 Clarke Rd. in Brentwood Bay (next to the library). For more information, go to centralsaanichseniorscentre.org.

• At St. Andrew’s Kirk Hall on Sunday afternoon, a Rabbie Burns concert features Highland and Scottish country dancing and a Gaelic Choir. A tea and social will follow. Admission is by donation. The concert runs 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at 680 Courtney St.

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