A Coquitlam non-profit group will team up with SFU next week to host their first-ever Robbie Burns night.
The virtual celebration by ScotFestBC and SFU’s Centre for Scottish Studies will see a number of West Coast "stars" in Scottish cultural circles: Jack Lee, pipe sergeant of the six-time world champion Simon Fraser University Band, and Dr. Leith Davis, the Burnaby university’s director for Scottish studies.
The free entertainment on Jan. 23 will also include sing-alongs, fiddle music, a whisky talk and a recitation of one of Burns’ most famous poems, Address to a Haggis.
Mike Chisholm, the executive director of ScotFestBC, which runs the BC Highland Games at Town Centre Park in Coquitlam each year, said the joint effort with SFU was a long time coming. “COVID has really forced everyone to work together in different ways,” he said. “Now, everything is online, and we’re seeing people branching out to find virtual events and make virtual social connections.”
Dr. Davis told the Tri-City News that SFU’s Centre for Scottish Studies is thrilled to co-host the inaugural Burns celebration with ScotFestBC.
“Ever since Burns’ friends first gathered together to remember him in the early years of the 19th century, the Scottish poet and songwriter has been the focus of social gathering,” she said. “This year especially, we need to celebrate our human connections and remember how sharing art, poetry, music — and feasting and drinking—are so important to bring us together in community both locally and globally.”
Chisholm, a Coquitlam resident, said registration is now open via Eventbrite.ca, and the Zoom event can accommodate up to 500 viewers over the two hours; a taped pre-show featuring the SFU Pipe Band in Chilliwack will also roll, beginning at 6:30 p.m., as participants are let into the event, which officially begins at 7 p.m. PST on Jan. 23.
There is no admission charge.
As for prizes, Tartantown in Coquitlam will award a $250 gift card to the best dressed participant with the best set design in their home while the Victoria Caledonian Distillery has whisky tour gift cards up for grabs. As well, participants have the chance to win a $130 bottle of Invermallie single malt whisky from Macaloney’s Caledonian Distillery or gift cards to The British Store in Surrey.
Chisholm said January is typically a busy time for Scottish cultural groups with pipe and dance activities as well as the Burns’ night in the third week, to mark the Scottish Bard’s birthday.
With the global pandemic still raging, though, “our options are slim but we are working within our parameters and delivering the best Robert Burns Celebration to the public,” he said.
• To register for the Robert Burns Celebration on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m., visit eventbrite.ca.