When bagpipes fill the air and haggis is on pub menus across Greater Victoria, you know one big birthday party is about to go down.
Two-and-a-half centuries after poet Robert Burns was born, his legacy continues with Scottish-style celebrations worldwide.
And there’s no shortage of events here to honour Burns, Scotland’s favourite son.
“Twenty to twenty-fiver per cent of Victoris claims Scottish ancestry in one form or another,” said Irene Feir of the Victoria Joint Scottish Council and the Sons of Scotland Benevolent Association. “Just look at our street names here.”
Sons of Scotland formed in 1876 in Toronto, with a Victoria branch formed in 1956. The organization was built around providing insurance protection to its members. It still does, but a larger goal of the group is to preserve Scottish traditions and history.
“For those who are interested in their roots, it’s important to have a way of doing that,” Feir said.
Burns about town
Cookeilidh at the Castle
Jan. 22 from 11:30 a.m.- 1:00 p.m., Craigdarroch Castle, 1050 Joan Cres.
Castle opens for self-guided tours at 10 a.m, with music by Cookeilidh starting at noon. The haggis will be piped into the castle by the Highland Gathering Light Horse and Foot Guard. Bill Johnston will give the address to the haggis, after which guests may sample the dish and bring home a copy of the recipe.
The celebration is including in the regular admission cost of the castle – $13.75 for adults, $12.75 for seniors. Contact 250-592-5323.
Robert Burns Memorial Tea and Concert
Jan. 23, 2 p.m., Robert Burns statue (across from the petting zoo), Beacon Hill Park
The Victoria Joint Scottish Council hosts a short ceremony at the Burns statue in Beacon Hill Park, followed by Scottish entertainment and tea and goodies at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Hall on Courtney Street. Admission by donation. Contact 250-652-5773.
Hungry for haggis?
Robbie Burns Night at the Blethering Place
Jan. 25 from 6 p.m., 2250 Oak Bay Ave.
The annual ceremony starts at 6 p.m. with haggis dinner and pipe band to follow. Advance tickets are $25 and going fast. Contact 250-598-1413.
Party at a pub
Jan. 25, all evening, various locations
Fill up on live pipers, haggis and bangers and mash at The Bard and Banker Pub, 1022 Government St.
Over at the Canoe Brewpub, Victoria’s Celtic rockers the McGillicuddys, with special guest piper Steve Kelly, take the stage. Expect an address to the haggis (and tasting) at 8 p.m., 450 Swift St.
Jan. 26, 1:30 p.m. St. Philip Anglican Church, 2928 Eastdowne Rd.
For anyone who hasn’t had enough of the festivities by the end of the night Tuesday, local Robbie Burns expert “Scotty” Gardiner will be on hand Wednesday to decode the addressing of the Haggis. Following his own address of the fare, Gardiner will decode the tradition and discuss the meaning behind it.
Traditional Burns Dinner
Jan. 29, 5 p.m., Royal Oak Golf Club, 540 Marsett Pl.
Dress in traditional Scottish garb, or semi-formal attire and join the Sons of Scotland Benevolent Association for cocktails and another chance at a haggis dinner. Tickets are $45, in advance at 250-478-0746 or 250-480-9355.