Toasting Robert Burns in style

A lively Scottish knees-up will mark Robert Burns’ 265th birthday in Arrowtown next Saturday.

Scotland’s national poet, known as Rabbie, was born on January 25, 1759, and died on July 21, 1796.

It’s the third year in a row former Edinburgh man Chris Hutton has organised a Burns Supper and Ceilidh at the Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall.

The capacity is 225 tickets — slightly reduced from last year to make more room for dancing — and he is hoping to sell them out again to an enthusiastic group of people who enjoy three-course dinners, a dram of whisky and a jig.

‘‘It is kinda off the scale … We do have folk coming over from Dunedin and Wānaka to go to it, because it is starting to get a bit of a reputation for being quite a fun night,’’ he says.

Hutton says the importance of providing a Scottish get-together was confirmed when a woman burst into tears at the first dinner because she was so happy to be transported back to her homeland.

The dinner includes a ceremonial address to the haggis.

Afterwards, the floor will be cleared so everyone can learn five Scottish country dances.

‘‘If you bounce off the walls, it is fine.

“It is fairly sobering as well,’’ he says.

Many men will probably wear a kilt and the women will also dress up, but it is OK to turn up in jeans, a T-shirt and sneakers, Hutton says.

‘‘That’s fine.

“We are in New Zealand after all and not everybody has a kilt.’’

Traditional music will be performed by the band Hair O The Dog.

The event is a fundraiser for the Kiwi Kit Charitable Trust, which supports migrants from all over the world to find their way in the Queenstown Lakes district.

Hutton says he has lived in Queenstown for 10 years and found NZ very welcoming to foreigners.

Queenstown’s easy, safe and has mountains, ‘‘just like Scotland, but slightly better weather’’.

The event begins at the Arrowtown hall next Saturday, January 20, at 5.30pm, with dinner at 6pm and dancing from 9.30pm to midnight.

ickets ($131) via eventfinda

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