Burns Night is a holiday that, although appears as standard on our phone calendars, some may know nothing about.

But while January 25 may slip by unnoticed, there’s one sleepy Scottish market town that really comes to life.

And a short stay there, in Dumfries, if you don’t already share the admiration Scots have for their national poet Robert Burns, would certainly change that.

Nobody will try to convince you the little town compares in any way to our Northern neighbour’s big players Edinburgh and Glasgow.

But the town, that’s admittedly fairly glum-looking, especially under a blanket of grey clouds, does know how to put on a show. And that’s what makes their Burns Night celebration a special one.

Robert Burns, the fella the Scots are all fussing over, was much more than a troubadour who wrote his verse in Scot.

He collected and published hundreds of folk songs from throughout the country, touring the country to observe and absorb its history and traditions - preserving the national language and giving it literary status.

Worth all the fuss, then.

All over Scotland, his poems are celebrated annually with a supper that consists of haggis and a ‘wee dram’ of whisky.

Like a lot of Londoners, I had never until this year celebrated Burns Night.

And, as tempting as the unrivalled beauty of Edinburgh and the grittiness of Glasgow was, I decided to go for the real McCoy.

It's worth mentioning too that Virgin trains London-Carlisle takes you (almost all the way) there in style – in record time.


Big Burns Supper, Dumfries

Your Local Guardian:

This year’s main event Burns Night Live, held in a banquet hall on the day itself, was led by the silvery voice of home-grown talent Emily Smith.

The well-established folk singer, born and bred in Dumfries, introduced other local acts and guided revellers through the evening.

After scoffing their complimentary haggis, a traditional supper always a part of the Burns Night agenda, everyone was on their feet and dancing the Dashing White Sergeant.

But if getting red-faced, sweaty and twirling around in a tartan dress isn’t your cuppa’ tea, there was plenty more on show.

Organisers of 10-day festival, with Burns Night Live at its centre, arranged everything from comedy nights to burlesque and cabaret.

Le Haggis, a fast-moving cabaret show, offered a far less traditional Burns, raucous and raunchy, event to the festival-going revellers.

Your Local Guardian:

Comedian Paul Foot, a “rare exotic bird”, as he’s known, put on a blinding performance. English-born, he managed to tap into the locals’ sense of humour.

The town’s most famous pub, Globe Inn, located on the quietest highs street I’ve ever walked in, is a modest little waterhole - steeped in history.

If you’re looking for a trendy wee bar that sells cocktails and olives, it’s absolutely not for you. It’s decked out like a like a 90s budget hotel.

Hidden in a cobblestoned alleyway, it’s one of Dumfries’s oldest hostelries - established in 1610. And Robbie Burns, surprise surprise, frequented.

If you're on a budget and want a get-away (if you can call it that), then Dumfries is definitely worth considering.