Burns&Beyond: Edinburgh City Council light up St. Giles Cathedral with over 400 Chinese lanterns

Coming to life for the first time last year with Luke Jerram’s Museum of The Moon installation, Edinburgh Council fused its own Burns&Beyond festival with Chinese New Year, for a celebration of dates that won’t fall together for another 76 years.


A canopy of over 400 Chinese lanterns lit up St. Giles’ Cathedral on Thursday to welcome the year of the Rat, the first of the zodiac and said by Chinese tradition to represent the new decade, wealth and surplus.

The lanterns will keep their place until the February 1, strengthening the link between Scotland and China, which begins at the heart of Edinburgh Zoo, and spreads throughout the city with links to Edinburgh University and Herriot Watt University.

Alan Thomson, director for Unique Events, said: “It was kind of our one opportunity to do a big celebration but also collaborate with organisations within the city. Both culturally and through the Chinese community, we’ve created a much bigger celebration combining both components.

“I think we have a programme that somewhat represents multiculturalism, but there is also a lot of Scottish content.”

Alongside Johnnie Walker, the Burns&Beyond Chinese New Year will be hosting events throughout Edinburgh from Tuesday, January 21 to Sunday, February 9, with acts and activities for both adults and children, such as Ceilidhs, Pub Quizzes in Edinburgh’s Rose Street, performances from KT Tunstall and a special charity concert in memory of Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison, who took his life in early 2019.


“There are many links between Scotland and China already, but the Burns connection – his poetry, his work – is universal,” Thompson said.

“Our main culture trail has nine venues around the city centre, all with performers. At our Burns Supper, we will be having ‘Address to a Haggis’ done in both Scottish and Cantonese, and we have dragon dancers taking place.”

Burns’ poetry has been translated across 40 languages, but China recognises it for his continued themes of love and friendship and, according to Scholar Commons, the shining patriotism in his work: “It is only natural that ‘A Red, Red Rose’ is still sometimes sung by college students, even in school gardens in China where English is not spoken.”

A full write-up of events can be found on the Burns&Beyond website: https://www.list.co.uk/guides/chinese-new-year

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