21 Feb 2017 | by Anthony Kelly

In the 30 years that Penguins have been delivering events, we feel "themed events" have evolved. Or maybe it is the way that we as an agency use themes within events that has changed.

The Role of a Theme 

Historically a themed event, was exactly that. A standard event that adopted the style of whichever theme the company chose. This has changed drastically over the years. Penguins as an event agency now utilise "themes" as a tool for communicating business objectives in a memorable and impactful way. We regularly sit with our clients to develop a theme that will enhance and drive home the key messages of the business in a measurable way, that will deliver against corporate objectives.

That being said, events often coincide with days of social significance that can provide a strong foundation for a theme. It would be unwise for a company not to give a nod to such occasions or incorporate them into the overall experience.

Burns Night

Each year in the month of January, the opportunity arises for tartan to be hung from the walls and attendees to try their hand at spoken word poetry. With the 25th January being the official celebration of the life and works of the world famous Scottish poet, Robert 'Rabbie' Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796) .

Burns is responsible for works including "Auld Lang Syne" and "Tam O'Shanter" and is widely considered as a pioneer of the romantic movement in the literary world. Since his death he has become a cultural icon for Scotland and was voted as "Greatest Scot" by the Scottish public in 2009.

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At this time of year events are organised around the globe with varying objectives and intentions. A similarity that often runs through these events is the Burns theme, which has more recently become a celebration of Scottish culture.

Theming for a Burns event can be expressed in many ways. Below we provide some examples of how to do this. Before adopting any of these, it is important to refer back to your event obectives and identify how you can add the theme into the flow of your event to enhance your messaging.

Food & Drink:

At the heart of any Burns celebration will be the food and drink consumed. It goes without saying that many a glass of Scotch Whisky is raised to the crys of "Slangevar" (cheers good health in Gaelic).

Haggis, the national dish of Scotland takes a central role in any Burns themed event. In fact no self respecting Robert Burns event would be complete without an enigmatic recital of Burn's "Address Tae The Haggis". Haggis is usually served with "neeps and tatties" either as a starter or a main.

Other common dishes include, Chicken Balmoral (Chicken stuffed with haggis, served with a whisky sauce), steak pie or dishes created with Sotch beef and Cranachan (Whipped cream, Scottish raspberries, honey and toasted oats soaked in whisky).

Speakers & Entertainment:

As would be expected, the works of Rabbie Burns are often performed throughout any Burns themed events. As well as poetry, attendees are often treated to the sounds of the Great Highland Bagpipes. Whilst bagpipes are iconic of Scottish culture and if played correctly can raise goosebumps, the team at Penguins like our bagpipes to be played with a twist. Our favourite performers include The Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Clanadonia.

As well as bagpipes, a traditional Scottish ceilidh is a much enjoyed form of entertainment on Burns Night. Attendees will relish in the opportunity to learn many traditional Scottish dance steps such as "Stripping The Willow" and "The Dashing White Sergeant" led by a Scottish country dance band.

Production & room theming:

Depending on the style that you opt for, room theming can be as obvious or subtle as you like.

As may be expected sales of tartan soar at this time of year, from table cloths and napkins to wall and ceiling drapes. The clever use of lighting is also a cost effective method of theming for a larger space, whether it be purple and blue colour washes or more advanced projection. The opportunities are limited only by creativity and budget.

Scotland has played host to many amazing events over the years, why not make yours one of them? - Download our guide here. 

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Anthony Kelly

By Anthony Kelly

Head of New Business MarketingMore articles by Anthony Kelly