Burns&Beyond 2020: Blazing trails in Scotland's cultural landscape

KT Tunstall, Nadine Aisha Jassat, Michael Pedersen and Carla J Easton take the stage at Burns&Beyond's Culture Trail

Burns&Beyond returns to celebrate the life and legacy of the Ploughman's Poet in early 2020, taking over historic venues across the Scottish capital from Tue 21 Jan–Sun 9 Feb. Featuring a host of music, storytelling, ceilidhs and more, the programme raises a dram to the best and brightest of today's creative talent, and the nation's enduringly rich cultural heritage.

A centrepiece of the festival, the Burns&Beyond Culture Trail takes place on Burns Night proper, and whisks participants away on a whirlwind journey across eight different atmospheric locations in the city centre, showcasing 50+ performers across four hours. And making her Burns&Beyond debut is 'Suddenly I See' hitmaker KT Tunstall, who will be hosting an evening of live music and chat alongside a host of pals, in association with grocery chain Lidl. KT will be involved in unveiling Lidl's 100th store – in an as-of-yet undisclosed location – and raising funds for the STV Children's Appeal.

Burns&Beyond 2020: Blazing trails in Scotland's cultural landscape

Rozi Plain / credit Huw Rose

Assembly Rooms' Ballroom will once more be transformed into the rollicking Lucky Middlemass' Tavern, with a programme curated by Lau's Aidan O'Rourke. The line-up will feature stars of the folk and spoken word scene, including Lost Map Records' Rozi Plain, dynamic Irish-Scottish folk ensemble Kinnaris Quintet and poet Nadine Aisha Jassat. Likewise, purveyors of the 'sinister and sanguine' Neu! Reekie! have rustled up an eclectic roster of acts, including alternative hip hop collective Stanley Odd and an explosive collaboration between acclaimed poet Michael Pedersen, electronic music trailblazer Davie Miller and SAY Award-nominated pop singer-songwriter Carla J Easton.

Paying homage to the Bard himself will be the poet Kevin Williamson, who will be performing an incendiary rendition of Robert Burns' beloved 'Tam O' Shanter', alongside musician Craig Lithgow and dancers from the Kixx Collective. Another Scottish icon on display will be the 'water of life' itself as Nigel Robertson, ambassador for blended scotch whisky behemoth Johnnie Walker, leads audiences on a tasting journey through the distillation process and the distinctive flavours behind Johnnie Walker's various labels.

Burns&Beyond 2020: Blazing trails in Scotland's cultural landscape

Nadine Aisha Jassat / credit: Chris Scott

Edinburgh comedy cornerstone Gilded Balloon will also be bringing their talents on the Culture Trail, hosting some of the funniest comics currently on the Scottish and international circuit over at the Rose Theatre. Enjoy gags a-plenty from likes of Gareth Waugh, Christopher Macarthur-Boyd, Marjolein Robertson, Susan Riddell, Jamie Dalgleish and the American provocateur Scott Capurro.

Audiences can also get a taste of the sunshine on Leith over at the Liquid Rooms with the Leith Collective, featuring the Edinburgh-based music collective Out of the Ordinary. The evening's performance includes DJ and singer-songwriter Joseph Malik and Ramrock HiFi; DJs Jo Wallace and Ashley Beedle performing alongside Leith's original supergroup the Bum Clocks; actor Tam Dean Burn (of Taggart and River City fame); Steven Christie of the Proclaimers; Orange Juice's Malcolm Ross and Rusty Burn of post-punk ensemble Fire Engines; singer-songwriters Lynzie Dray, Daniel McGeever and Rosanne Erskine; taxi driver Paul McNeil, considered by Irvine Welsh to be the funniest man in the city; Zimbabwean afrobeat singer Einstein; and the Easter Road Northern Soul Band, out in full force.

Burns&Beyond 2020: Blazing trails in Scotland's cultural landscape

Christopher Macarthur-Boyd

Another unforgettable stop on the trail will be St Giles' Cathedral, which will mark the fortuitous convergence of Burns Night and Chinese New Year in 2020 with a breathtaking canopy of 400 Chinese lanterns. Also taking place at a secret venue along the trail is the return of the silent disco party, hosted by Silent Adventures and helmed by The Great Calverto, spinning a host of classic Scottish jams and catchy floor-filling anthems. So come and hit the Culture Trail with Burns&Beyond this year, and pay tribute to oor Rabbie with the best of Scottish arts and culture, past and present.

Burns&Beyond Culture Trail, various venues, Edinburgh, Sat 25 January; Burns&Beyond, Tue 21 January–Sun 9 February, burnsandbeyond.com

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