By Kiana Greenan
The Big Burns Supper is Scotland’s biggest Burns Night event. The festival would usually be held over 11 days and would see thousands flock into Dumfries town centre. This year however will be slightly different.
The festival has now gone online and will showcase at 7pm tonight on The Big Burns Supper Facebook and YouTube. The festival has now been condensed into a one-off live online performance. Headliners include Janey Godley, KT Tunstall and ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ singer and songwriter Donovan.
Executive producer and director of the Big Burns Supper, Graham Main, says that this year has been ‘pretty challenging as a whole’ however has found a silver lining through it all and is happy that making it online has made it open to a much wider audience. People travel far to enjoy the Big Burns Supper, making it online this takes it a step further and enables it to be a global event. This year will be the 10th Anniversary of the Big Burns Supper. The festival does not just include well known Scottish names it also showcases local talents across the days including bands such as The Lutras. Graham accepted that it is impossible to condense the festivals usual days into a 45-minute show however the team have worked hard together to fit the best bits in.
Audiences have been left disappointed that they cannot attend the yearly winter festival. Keen festival goer Heather Edgar believes that the town will be impacted more than expected due to being online
“The festival brings the whole of Dumfries together, as well as getting to meet people who have travelled from all over Scotland. It also brings in visitors from America and Canada. I don’t quite think the town will realise the impact economically and socially that not having the festival on will have” Heather Edgar
Not only will audiences and team members from the Big Burns Supper be limited due being online this year. Local pubs in Dumfries will also see the impact. Graham has noted that in previous years this was a great event for the local pubs.
“The big burns supper is a great event for the pubs” Graham Main
Dumfries pub owner Jack Houliston remains positive about the pub closures in Dumfries during this time. He believes that this will only make him more determined to make next year bigger and better.
‘The Big Burns supper has been steadily growing over the past few years and has brought a lot of business to the pub trade in what is typically a quiet time of year. It goes without saying that we are disappointed to be closed for Burns Night, but we all need to play our part and do whatever is necessary to keep safe and find a way through this pandemic – it will just make us more determined to make next year’s Big Burns Supper celebrations bigger and better.” Jack Houliston
Graham Main again remains positive that people can still have this pub and restaurant experience at home and wants to encourage people to get dressed up and toast a haggis. The team have encouraged people to support local butcheries, and ultimately do whatever they can to support the Dumfries economy which has been hit hard by Covid-19. The High Street has not only lost retail chains such as Debenhams, local pubs have also faced closures.
“The kind of idea for people is to try and create the festival at home, so we’ve in terms of our own audience we have been messaging them handy hints we included places you could get haggis online across Dumfries and Galloway’” Graham Main
Graham and the team have been using their own skills in performing arts to encourage people to ‘pretend they’re going out’. The Big Burns Supper team have used this as their main message. The team are pushing the message that it is still possible to grab a drink and have a laugh safe at home with the hope next year will be bigger and better.
You can enjoy the Big Burns Supper tonight at 7pm on Facebook and YouTube.