Festivals in the south west include ones that are celebrated throughout Scotland and some particular to Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway. Perhaps the most obvious is Burns Night.

25th January is marked as a major cause for celebration, even on distant shores, as the anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.  Scots and those of Scottish extraction, as well as Burns afficionados, hold Burns Suppers, which have certain traditions adhered to and a generally accepted order of events.


First, the party is formally opened, usually with the 'Selkirk Grace' and a light starter course such as soup.   Then, perhaps the most famous and recognisable element of the meal occurs - the Address to the Haggis, which is brought into the room accompanied by bagpipes.  A combination of various toasts and proclamations ensues, with recitals of Burns' poems, and the rest of the food.  This is normally traditional fare such as neeps and tatties (turnip and mashed potatoes), cheese, oatcakes and maybe a dessert such as cranachan (made with oatmeal, cream, raspberries, and so on) and, of course, whisky. The evening is brought to an end with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

The Burns Supper began when friends of the poet remembered him on the anniversary of his death.


Contemporary celebrations of the bard include 'Burns An' A' That', which commenced six years ago and is growing in popularity, with many acclaimed performers on the bill every year at various venues throughout Ayrshire.

The Holy Fair, another festival with its roots in earlier times, has also recently been revived in the village of Mauchline, East Ayrshire, with a range of performers, crafts and activities for families.


Other local festivals include the Saltcoats Queen of the Sea; this too has recently restarted, having first been held in the early 20th century.  A local girl is crowned Queen, with a couple of ladies-in-waiting and partakes in a parade through the town. 


Staying in North Ayrshire, the Marymass festival based in Irvine is a highlight of the holiday week in August each year.  It was supposedly started when Queen Mary visited the town, and surprisingly made it through the Reformation.  A horse race was added in the 18th century, and the climbing of a greased pole.  In earlier times, the purpose was to reach a meat joint at the top, a highly prized commodity.


Sometimes, there were days marked that were not big enough to be classed as a festival, like Glen Saturday when the Kilmarnock children went to Craufurdland Castle to pick daffodils.


The Guid Nychburris event in Dumfries celebrates the town's status as a royal burgh and 2007 saw its 75th anniversary, although it was suspended during the war, as were many of these occasions.  One of the main events was the  Riding of the Marches.

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