Recently STYLEetc. took a trip north of the border and spent 48 hours in the buzzing city of Glasgow, courtesy of our friends at Glasgow Life. Since 2008, Glasgow has held a place on UNESCO’s presitgious Cities of Music list, thanks to it’s rich cultural heritage and hugely varied venues. With an average of 130 gigs a week in the city there’s sure to be something you love on the horizon and in this guide we discuss our experience and show you how to get the most out of your visit. Find an artist you love and let’s go!
There are several ways you could get to Glasgow but for our money the most convenient and stress free has to be by train. Avanti make the journey several times a day from Manchester Piccadilly with a short change over at Wigan North Western. This journey typically takes around 3 hours 30 mins so we recommend setting off around 11am to arrive in time for hotel check-in. Pricing for a return Wigan to Glasgow journey with Avanti is as follows:
First Class Return – £148.80
Standard Premium Return – £94.20
Standard Return – £44.20
Once you’re checked-in and freshened up it’s time for a visit to the Dukes Umbrella, which surely must be one of Glasgow’s cosiest restaurants. Don’t let the slightly worn signage on the exterior fool you, this is a seriously fine and well styled eatery. Inside you will find leather upholstered booths, wooden furniture and shelves filled with historic knickknacks, all nestled under a vaulted brick ceiling and serving deliciously rich pub classics (with a seperate menu of clever vegetarian and vegan takes). A fantastic place for a hearty serving of haggis and an expertly mixed cocktail, not to mention the caramelised carrot soup, which is quite simply the best soup we’ve ever had. High praise too for the attentive waiting staff who round out a relaxed and refined dining experience.
Now it’s time for some evening entertainment, the main event! For us this took the form of a very special homecoming gig by none other than Glasgow’s own The Fratellis, playing 2 sold out nights at the world famous Barrowland Ballroom. The crowd were electrified with excitement after a warm up from local lads Dictator and The Fratellis brought energy to match, playing their hits with enthusiactic participation from the fans.
Barrowland holds a very special place in the hearts of musicians and audiences alike, a point touched upon by Jon Fratelli himself towards the end of the gig. With a colourful history as a ballroom for market traders and locals (to this day it features a market hall beneath and on the streets behind) it hosted many huge acts on the 60’s. After a brief period of decline the venue was revitalised by Glasgow legends Simple Minds, who shot the video to their song “Waterfront” here in 1983, begining a resurgence in popularity and cementing Barrowland as a mainstay in the city’s music scene. It’s easy to see why the likes of Metallica’s James Hetfield and others count Barrowland among their favourite places to play and we’re sure if you get the chance you will love this charactful venue too.
Day 2 begins with Glasgow City Music Tours who offer a variety of walking tours around the city, the most popular (and our pick) being the Merchant City Tour. Starting at The Clutha bar at 11am this tour takes around 2 hours and leads you around Glasgow’s oldest streets, taking in much loved venues including the Panopticon and of course the aforementioned Barrowland Ballroom. Guided by the extremely knowledgable Fiona (a born and bred Glaswegian music journalist), this tour paints a vivd picture of life in the Merchant City through the years and is permeated with many amusing tales of debauchery and the untimely demise of more than a few buildings due to fire. Prices for tours start at £13 and they run every Saturday from April to September.
All that walking is bound to leave you feeling a little peckish so it’s time to head over to Singl-end Bakehouse’s Merchant City branch for freshly made breakfast and lunch items, or perhaps just a cake or brownie to takeaway. A visit here is a must and if you’d like to dine in may be worth booking as it proved to be very popular during our visit.
The afternoons activity takes us to Hidden Lane Organic Brewery for an intimate lesson in beer making from Master Brewer Pete. During the roughly 2 hour tour you’ll see the inner workings of this thriving small business and gain the years of knowledge cultivated by Pete from his life spent in brewing, all while enjoying samples of the delicious end product.
Hidden Lane also offer a pro brewer day where you can get hands on with the whole process from start to finish for any budding brewers out there.
Much like the music tour, a visit Hidden Lane really exemplifies what Glasgow is all about: passionate, strongly communal, welcoming and jovial. Just make sure to have Google Maps handy, it’s called Hidden Lane for a reason!
Hidden Lane Brewery is well positioned for an unmissable visit to The Finnieston, a modern seafood restaurant and gin cocktail specialist bar. Featuring a keenly focused menu, The Finnieston’s dishes deliver exquisite flavour with the freshest ingredients, as well as boasting over 60 brands of gin available from the bar.
The restaurant itself is the perfect place to relax after a full day exploring. The low wood ceiling, open fireplace and exposed brick walls of the main bar room give way to a mostly covered, heat lamp soaked outdoor area at the rear. Stay a while and enjoy a well crafted cocktail or bespoke beer (Hidden Lane tropical ale anyone?)
To cap the day off in musical fashion, and go out with a bang, there’s a host of local pubs hosting live bands including The Islay Inn from 9pm every Friday and Saturday. You could also try The Park Bar, operating since 1895, they also play host to traditional live music from Thursday to Sunday every week.
Why not make the night into a bar crawl and add The Ben Nevis to the list, after all it’d be a shame to pass up their impressive whiskey collection.
Of course there remains the option of another gig, and being on this side of the city gives easy access to King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut or the futuristic looking OVO Hydro arena, the choice and the night are yours!
Day 3 and it’s time to head home to sunny Manchester, whether you choose an early or late train is entirely up to you, though opting for the later option will give you a chance to explore one of Glasgows many museums.
Any museum operated by Glasgow City Council is completely free to enter, including the majestic Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Another great option is the Riverside Museum, which houses over 3,000 unique items showcasing transport and technology. Here you will also find The Tall Ship moored alongside the museum, a merchant sailing vessel built in 1896.
To get inspired and start planning your long weekend in Glasgow make sure to visit People Make Glasgow and enjoy your trip!