POETRY, music and food will be enjoyed across the world to celebrate the birth of a Scottish poet.

On January 25 the annual celebration of the life and works of Robert Burns will be celebrated with suppers of Scottish food and plenty of whiskey.

The first Burns supper was held in July 1801 when nine of Burns’ close friends got together to mark the fifth anniversary of their friend’s death.

The night included a meal, including haggis, performances of Burns’ work and a speech in honour of the poet which are known as the Immortal Memory.

One man who will be busy on Burns’ Night is Matthew Bartlett from Newport. Known to many as the Welsh wedding bagpiper, he has been piping for more than 30 years.

He said: “I think it is getting more popular, I have five Burns engagements this year alone.

“It’s all about the party. It’s about good food, entertainment and good company.”

The evening starts by piping in the guests and the evening involves a number of traditions.

The traditional supper includes haggis, neeps and tatties (swede and potatoes) and drams of whisky.

A traditional evening begins when people gather and guests sit then say the Selkirk Grace - a prayer which is said before eating. The starter is then served and followed by the haggis being brought in with a piper playing the Scottish bagpipes. The host will then address the haggis and everyone will toast the haggis before eating the main meal and then dessert.

After the meal the first Burns recital is performed, the Immortal Memory, then the second Burns recital is performed, then there’s a Toast to the Lassies, followed by a Reply to the Toast to the Lassies, before the final Burns recital is performed.

To end the night the host gives a vote of thanks, everyone stands and sings Auld Lang Syne.

Mr Bartlett added: “There is nothing specific that I play when I pipe in the haggis. Sometimes I play a favourite like Scotland the Brave which is very well known and gets people clapping along. Sometimes I play something more traditional like A Man’s a Man for A’ That which is a Robbie Burns poem.”

On the night Mr Bartlett wears a traditional outfit; alternating between the green Mackenzie tartan and a red Ramsay tartan.

He added: “I have no Scottish family and I can’t stand haggis. I am quite a fussy eater and I am normally invited to stay and have a meal, but I often decline. I like the vegetable side of things.”

For haggis fans there are a number of Burns’ Suppers taking place around the region.

In the Bridges Centre in Monmouth there will be a traditional Burns Night on January 25, including a hearty three course meal, a tot of Scotch whisky, the piping in, address and toasting of the haggis.

Dorothy Laidler, fundraising co-ordinator at the community centre, said money from bistro goes back to projects.

She said: “We have done themed nights before and we wanted to try Burns Night and celebrate Robbie Burns

“It’s a traditional evening and we have regular or vegetarian which comes from a local butcher in Monmouth.”

Tiny Rebel Brewing’s bar in Rogerstone are hosting a four course supper on January 25 which will include haggis, neeps and tatties, venison, and a vegetarian option, along with beer and whisky pairings.

Niall Thomas, a spokesman for Tiny Rebel, said: “This is the first event Burns’ event at the bar, but it is something that we have done before in our other bars and people enjoyed trying something new.

“There has been a lot of interest and ticket sales are going well.

“I’m half Scottish and there is a lot of Scottish heritage among our staff. It won’t be a tacky event, we will let the food do the talking.”

One venue which has been celebrating Burns Night for a number of years is the Islwyn Inn in Blackwood.

Restaurant manager Nicola Hatton said: “We have been celebrating this for nine years.

“We are holding Burns Suppers on January 26 and 27, and the Saturday has already sold out.

“We do lots of different themed nights and we always do Burns night. It’s one of the most popular nights we do and popularity has grown thanks to word of mouth.

“People come from all over for it, one couple travelled from Cardigan.”

A Newport butchers is making its very own haggis in time for Burns Night.

AD Turner and Sons, located at Newport Market in the city centre, will be making traditional haggis and haggis sausages during the week before the Scottish celebration.

Butcher James ‘Stretch’ Thomas said: “We have been making haggis for five years, but I do sell them all year round. We sell loads for Burns Night.

“I will start making them Burns Night week, last year we made about 80 haggises and the year before that we sold even more. I had a lady came in who said it is better than the haggis she had in Scotland.”

Mr Thomas said the haggis is made from lamb and lamb offal, onion and oats and oatmeal. The haggis he makes weigh at least a pound and are prepared by boiling in a saucepan.

He added: “It’s a traditional recipe but we do our own tweaks. There was a bit of trial and error that went into it, I tried a few to make sure I got it right. We also make haggis sausages which are popular too because they are smaller.”

For more information about the Bridges Centre in Monmouth visit bridgescentre.org.uk, Tiny Rebel Brewing’s Brewery Bar tinyrebel.co.uk and Islwyn Inn in Blackwood /theislwyninn.com.

More information about the Welsh wedding bagpiper visit facebook.com/WelshWeddingBagpiper.