Burns Night heat in Vilnius

21st Burns Night in Vilnius. Photography @ Deividas Podvolskis

The climate change should not be blamed for the warm February 1 Saturday evening in Vilnius alone. Some blame to this mid-winter heat on that evening could be put on the famous Scots poet Robert Burns and the British Chamber of Commerce in Lithuania (BCCL) since the Vilnius Town Hall (Rotušė) was radiating with energy and heat during the annual Burns Night Gala Dinner party! This is how good it was!

Over the years the growing local interest in Scottish traditions and fundraising for charities has successfully transformed the BCCL’s annual Burns Night celebration into a highly popular event supported and enjoyed by the local business community in Vilnius. It is a wonderful and uniting tradition with no borders or politics. Once a year the guests gather together to learn about Scottish culture, enjoy Scottish music, dance, and traditions  This year some 250 distinguished guests, among which there were H.E. British Ambassador to Lithuania Mr Brian Olley and the newly appointed US Ambassador to Lithuania Robert S. Gilchrist gathered at this historical Vilnius building.

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The Burns Night Gala Dinner also generously support the Chamber in its fundraising for Lithuanian charities. Since 2000, Burns Night in Vilnius raised over 100.000 EUR shared by 24 different children and youth organisations in Lithuania or educational projects related to children or youth. Over 30 companies each year are keen to engage and associate their company name or brand through a variety of Sponsorship tiers and opportunities that exist concerning this magnificent fundraising Gala.

And there are prizes!

The main Auction Golden prize of this Burns Night raffle was two business class tickets to Bali with Turkish Airlines, and a long weekend stay at the paradise island’s Apurva Kempinsk hotel.  The Turkish Airlines presented this generous price will be enjoyed to Mr Arnas Jurskis from Arimex.

The second auction prise was a Gala Dinner at an exclusive members-only Lansdowne club in London, with Alex Mendham and his orchestra. They were donated by Guildhawk – Jurga Žilinskienė MBE and David Clarke. The winner of this price is Kim Bartholdy of DSV. 

21st Burns Night in Vilnius. Photography @ Deividas Podvolskis

Many more prizes were won, and even more, hard-earned cash was spent.  But as it is said the primary winner of a lottery is the lottery beneficiaries.  This year it is Pal. M. Sapočkos hospice who will receive EUR 16.000 collected at the charity raffle.  This money will go a long way because the newly built hospice for children will spend it on so needed equipment that will be appreciated by the dwellers of the hospice.

Over 550 bottles of whiskey were consumed,… Yes, since the year 2000 though, it has to be noted. And thanks to God it was not in a single Burns Night, even though, I have a feeling that Robert Burns himself would have approved it if he was there, since he like his whisky and a good company.  Burns also loved music and dancing, and it was plenty of this during the night!

Dancing and dancing

The Queen’s Royal Hussars performed the Pipes and Drums. The battlegroup on the ground currently stationed in Estonia under Operation Cabrit NATO mission.  The Queen’s Royal Hussars is the senior United Kingdom armoured regiment. It was formed on 1 September 1993 from the amalgamation of the Queen’s Own Hussars and the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars. The regiment and its antecedents have been awarded 172 Battle Honours and eight Victoria Crosses.

21st Burns Night in Vilnius. Photography @ Deividas Podvolskis

After the Dinner and the Charity Raffle, all the guests were invited to another Hall for the traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing with a ceilidh caller and informal ‘after-party’ in Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel after that.

The ceilidh band this year – Rerr Terr, which was pleased to return to Vilnius and lead the guests through fantastic ceilidh dances. The band is one of Scotland’s best-loved and in-demand ceilidh bands. Rerr Terr was established in 1998 by three good friends and has gone from strength to strength playing regularly at some of Britain’s most prestigious venues for some incredible hosts such as J.K. Rowling, the Duke of Buccleuch and the Marquess of Bute. The trio plays accordion, fiddle, and drums in a lively and energetic fusion style and makes people want to get up and dance.

21st Burns Night in Vilnius. Photography @ Deividas Podvolskis

A mix of fantastic food, company and entertainment is a landmark of Burns Night Gala dinner in Vilnius. And perhaps this combination which radiated the heat in the middle of Lithuanian winter had nothing to do with the worm Vilnius winter, but it certainly gave a lot of positive energy to all of the guests, who are looking forward to another Burns Night in Vilnius already.

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