Festivals and Celebrations in Oxford and the UK. January

Burns Night 25th January

This is a big Scottish celebration of the Scots poet Robert Burns (25th January 1759 – 21st July 1796). He wrote poetry and songs in both Scots and English, his most famous Scots language poem is probably ‘Auld Lang Syne’ which is sung at New Year’s celebrations around the world.


Traditionally the Scots eat haggis (see above), ‘neeps’ (swede) and ‘tatties’ (potatoes), recite Burns’  poetry and drink on this day. If you’re in the UK, it should be quite easy to find a pub celebrating Burns night, you might even find a Ceilidh (Scottish party, usually with dancing and folk music) somewhere near you.

If you’re in Oxford, you could go to: BrewDog on Cowley Road, The Holly Bush, Bridge Street or St Aldates Tavern, St. Aldates or get tickets for the Burns Night Ceilidh at Exeter Hall in Kidlington (http://www.oxfordpipeband.co.uk/ceilidh-2020/) 

Make Your Own Burns Night Supper

Haggis (Main Dish)

Unless you have your own sheep to butcher, you’ll probably have to buy this as it is made of the liver, heart and lungs of a sheep mixed with suet, oatmeal, onion and spices, packed into a sheep’s stomach and boiled. You can buy it at Waitrose. They also sell a (nicer) vegetarian version.


Salmon smoked or baked, maybe in a salad, or ‘Cullen Skink’ (delicious smoked haddock soup) or ‘cock – a – leekie’ soup.

Side Dishes

Roast swede and potato. Mashed potato with cream or quick fried leeks or cabbage.


Whisky (or Irn Bru, which is non-alcoholic, if you can get it). 



570 ml double cream

85g porridge oats

7tbsp whisky

3 tbsp honey

450g raspberries

1.Gently toast the oats in a frying pan.

2.Lightly whip the cream and fold in honey, whisky, oatmeal & berries.


125g butter, 55g caster sugar, 180g plain flour.

1.Heat the oven to 190C

2. Beat the butter & sugar together until smooth

3. Stir in flour. Take out of the bowl and put on the table, gently roll until about 1 cm thick.

4. Cut into circles or ‘fingers’ and place on a baking tray. Sprinkle caster sugar on top and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until pale golden-brown. Let cool.

Notes Someone should read Robert Burns’ ‘Address to a Haggis’ when you bring the haggis to the table https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5f_yDLZBaA , you can find an English translation here: https://inews.co.uk/culture/address-to-a-haggis-robert-burns-poem-words-translation-burns-night-2019-146960

Put on some traditional Scots music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFM7iH9lwQw and maybe dance around a sword or two https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUFR4LcSKrs

Chinese New Year 25th January 2020

Marking the beginning of the Year of the Rat. The biggest celebration in the UK (and the largest outside Asia) will be in and around Chinatown and the West End in London on Sunday 26th January. There will be parades, performances and displays (https://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/event/4733685-chinese-new-year-in-london)

If you’re in Oxford, you can buy tickets for the celebration at the Town Hall on Sunday 2nd February (https://www.cheney.oxon.sch.uk/student-news/invitation-to-chinese-new-year-celebration-on-sunday-2nd-february-2020-9th-day-of-the-chinese-new-year/).


January 2020 Newsletter: