Once every 76 years an unusual alignment occurs: Burns Night and the Chinese New Year both fall on 25th January.
2020 is that year, with organisers of Edinburgh’s newest festival Burns&Beyond, partnering up with Edinburgh’s Chinese New Year Festival to bring an expanded number of events to celebrate the legacy of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns and welcome in the Year of the Rat.
Building on last year’s 6-day festival, Burns&Beyond 2020's cultural package extends from Tuesday 21 to Saturday 1 February.
Chinese New Year celebrations in Edinburgh, the largest celebration of its kind in Scotland, run concurrently with Burns&Beyond, with a later end date of Thursday 6 February.
Highlights of the combined programme include:
- The Official Chinese New Year Concert at the Usher Hall on Tuesday 21 January. Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra, The Edinburgh Singers and artists and soloists from both China and Scotland. The concert will feature the Guizhou Song and Dance Ensemble, a performing arts troupe established in 1956. Working in genres ranging from dance drama to opera, the troupe specialises in artistic creation that features key characteristics of Guizhou culture and will be bringing a variety of dances and songs that portray their unique folk customs.
- Burns&Beyond Festival Club at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms
Folk, rock, whisky and a ceilidh events including special performances by Edwyn Collins, Tide Lines and Rachel Sermanni, Chris Stout & Catriona McKay. ‘Ceilidh King’ Fergie MacDonald will give an accordion masterclass at the Teatime Ceilidh, there’s a Whisky Tasting with Johnnie Walker and the Festival Club programme closes each night with an Aftershow featuring DJ Davie Miller; founding member of Scottish electronic pioneers FiniTribe and Paradise Palms Records.
- The Bairn’s Burns Supper on Saturday 25 January, Freemason's Hall
A new, free, lunchtime event, with poetry, music and ceilidh dancing.
- Major Minor Music Club at Freemason’s Hall in George Street on Sunday 26 January featuring Martha Ffion and Band welcoming the next generation to their first live gig.
- A Waltz Across the Carpet, Usher Hall on Sunday 26 January
A charity concert that celebrates the life and music of Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison, curated by Scott’s brother and bandmate, Grant Hutchison and family. All proceeds raised from the event’s ticket sales, as well as other fundraising throughout the festival, will be donated to Tiny Changes, a charity founded by Hutchison’s family following Scott’s death in 2018 to raise awareness about mental health issues affecting children and young people.
- Not-So-Traditional Burns Supper, Friday 24 January in Freemasons’ Hall
A raucous night of comedy, live music and delicious food and drink on with comedian Scott Gibson, special guests, and a ceilidh finale with the Kilter Ceilidh Band.
- The Burns&Beyond Culture Crawl, on Saturday 25 January
Artists and musicians from across Scotland and beyond performing in eight venues across the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh. Audiences will explore the city centre, enjoying performances ranging from Aidan O’Rourke’s Lucky Middlemass’s Tavern at The Assembly Rooms with live music from SAY Award Nominees Kinnaris Quintet, Six Music favourite Rozi Plain and poet Nadine Aisha Jarrat to The Leith Collective in The Liquid Rooms featuring Out of the Ordinary, fronted by Joseph Malik and Band, Tam Dean Burn, The Easter Road Northern Soul Band and legendary house DJ Ashley Beedle.
Neu! Reekie! Presents Edinburgh Hip Hop group Stanley Odd, singer songwriter Carla J Easton, spoken word artist Michael Pederson and a version of Tam O’Shanter by Kevin Williamson and the Kixx Collective at Freemason’s Hall.
Hidden in two secret venues are a Johnny Walker Whisky Tasting and Scotland vs The World Silent Disco plus an evening of Comedy as Gilded Balloon Presents Susan Riddell, Jamie Dalgleish and Scott Capurro at the Gilded Balloon Basement in the Rose Theatre.
Further artists to be announced in late November. Culture Crawl tickets are priced at £25 and allow participants to explore performances in all eight venues throughout the night.
- Red, Red Rose Street
A series of free and ticketed events for audiences of all ages including The Rabbie Ramble with hidden clues and puzzles throughout the area, The Big Burns Quiz and Chinese New Year Lucky Red Envelopes hiding prizes, business offers and Burns&Beyond tickets.
There is also a full programme of comedy events at the Gilded Balloon Basement at the Rose Theatre. The Scottish Storytelling Centre pays homage to Burns’ life and legacy with storytelling, music, workshops and children’s events.
Burns&Beyond with Johnnie Walker is produced by Unique Events and supported by City of Edinburgh Council, Johnnie Walker, Scotland’s Winter Festivals and Essential Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Chinese New Year Festival 2020 is co-ordinated by Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) and supported by The Scottish Confucius Institute for Business & Communication at Heriot-Watt University.