The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Monday, 17 January 2011

Burns celebrations in Alloway go back in time to 1759

A small village in South Ayrshire will go back in time 252 years this weekend to mark the third annual Alloway 1759 celebrations – a unique commemoration of the birth and life of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns.

From Friday 21 January until Robert Burns birthday on Tuesday 25 January, a whole host of events will take place in and around the village of Alloway – the birthplace of Burns – transforming the town back to the year of the Bard’s birth in 1759.

[Pictured: South Ayrshire Provost Winifred Sloan with a grown-up Robert Burns and a host of characters from 1759.]

Established in 2009 as part of the Year of Homecoming, Alloway 1759 is now part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals programme and offers something for everyone. This year it includes two key events – the official opening of the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum on 21 January and the announcement on 22 January of the recipient of the esteemed Robert Burns Humanitarian Awards for 2011.

Residents and visitors can enjoy free entry to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum all day on Saturday 22 January, with a torchlight procession from Burns Cottage to the museum where entertainment and a sound, light and visual display will bring the day to close.

A new event for Alloway 1759 – the Alloway Amble – in aid of Ayrshire Cancer Support then follows on Sunday 23 January, with a 5k stroll, started by local X Factor stars the MacDonald Brothers, leaving from and returning to Burns Cottage, taking in some favourite Burns landmarks en route.

The flagship event at the heart of Alloway 1759 takes place in the afternoon of Sunday 23 January – the transformation of Alloway village back to the eighteenth century. Opened by South Ayrshire Provost Winifred Sloan, this will see the streets of the village filled with costumed Burns characters, horses and carts, street decorations, a traditional street market, authentic merchandise and a programme of musical entertainment and poetical performances.

Highlights outside Burns Cottage include Ayr Pipe Band Society, Ayrshire Ploughman (Hugh McNeillie and Ian Muir), Tam Maun Ride (with River City’s John Murtaugh), Aileen Robertson School of Dance, The MacDonald Brothers, and Cameron Bell with Tam O’Shanter.

In Burns Cottage itself will be performances by Alloway Burns Club (including junior members) and Jim Clark plus Tim’rous Beasties (small animal handling).

Other venues hosting events in the afternoon include Alloway Village Hall with the Giglets telling their loveable stories about ‘Tam O’Haggis’ to bring Burns to a younger audience; Alloway Church with Alloway Burns Club offering readings, talks and information on Burns; Alloway Church hall, which will host a Burns’ children’s party; and the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum (normal admission fees apply).

The day’s celebrations end with Burns, Candlelight and Eddi Reader at the Brig O’Doon Hotel in Alloway – this event is also running on Monday 24 January.

A wreath-laying service by Ayr Burns Club at Burns Statue Square in Ayr takes place on Rabbie’s actual birthday, 25 January.

Provost Winifred Sloan said: “Alloway 1759 is a superb event, transforming the village back in time to more than 250 years ago. It’s a fantastic event for people to participate in and I hope it continues to grow every year.

“It really epitomises all that is great about South Ayrshire bringing together iconic cultural locations with a warm welcome from our people. There really is nothing like it and I hope as many people as possible take the opportunity to come along and join in.”

Councillor Margaret Toner, Portfolio Holder for Tourism, added: “Alloway 1759 is a terrific event and really offers something for everyone whether you’re new to Burns or know his works well. It continues to grow every year and it’s great to see new events like the Alloway Amble come on to the calendar, offering yet another way to celebrate the life of our national bard.

“Alloway 1759 is very exciting as it’s the first of our series of annual events celebrating Ayrshire, with the Burns an’ a’ that! Festival in May, Sportember during the month of September, including the British Kite Surfing Championship 2011 and St Andrew’s Weekend at the end of November.

“We are very proud to host all these events and Alloway 1759 will undoubtedly get this year’s programme off to a great start.”

For full details of the Alloway 1759 programme, visit

Alloway 1759 is part of the Scotland’s Winter Festivals programme, which is delivered by EventScotland in partnership with VisitScotland. It is an exciting and distinctive Scottish Government funded programme of events designed to celebrate three of Scotland’s most distinct days. Beginning with celebrations for St Andrew’s Day from 25 November and including Hogmanay on 31 December and Burns Night on 25 January, the programme will see more than 60 events taking place across the country which celebrate Scotland’s contemporary and traditional culture.

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