City Guide: Glasgow by Katie Paterson
Since becoming the first city in the UK to be awarded the title of European Capital of Culture in 1990, Glasgow’s arts scene has continuously gone from strength to strength. This, combined with the fact that we love our whisky and the weather leaves much to be desired - art, music and watering holes are undoubtedly what Glasgow does best!
So what better way to get to know the city than a ‘half n half’ (whisky with a half pint of lager chaser) at some of the Dear Green Place’s best bars-come-cultural centres. What’s more, this is a great way to socialise with the locals – a huge part of experiencing a city whose slogan is ‘People Make Glasgow’.
Image credit: Planetizen
Studio Warehouse G3 or SWG3 as it’s known, is a warehouse space located just off a busy motorway near the popular Finnieston area of the West End. The space plays host to artist studios (with more than 120 artists and musicians using the studio spaces), and functions as a gallery, club, and live gig venue. Since the recent tragic closure of The Arches – a much loved not-for-profit arts venue that has over the last 25 years become something of an institution – SWG3 have volunteered to take on many of the venue’s popular events, including club night Pressure.
Also a non-profit organization, SWG3 has bolstered glasgow’s independent art scene, and what used to be a derelict industrial part of the city is now thriving. It’s certainly worth the trek down (about 10 minutes’ walk down a long, boring residential street that can feel more like half an hour’s journey), but it might be an idea to check out their website to see what’s on first – the return journey will feel twice as long if you’re left thirsty!
There’s something in the air at Mono that always feels a bit nostalgic for the height of Glasgow’s Indie scene in the early 2000s. The bar opened in 2002 - a time when hearing the likes of Belle & Sebastian, Sons & Daughters and Franz Ferdinand live in this cosy space was commonplace (and you can still often spot band members relaxing and drinking here).
Mono is also home to one of the city’s best independent record stores, Monorail Music (owned by Stephen McRobbie of Glasgow band, The Pastels). Not only this, but the venue has it’s own in-house independent book store, Good Press, and serves the best vegan food in Glasgow, making them VegFest UK award winners for the last two consecutive years.
You could spend an entire day relaxing around the Mono couches, but it’s definitely worth saving your visit until there’s an event or gig on, as the atmosphere really transforms.
Gaelic for ‘great melody of life’, the Oran Mor is a theatre, gig venue, restaurant and whisky bar located in Glasgow’s West End, directly opposite the Botanic Gardens. The building, which was previously Kelvinside Parish Church, sat derelict for many years until it was renovated in 2002 into the impressive venue it is now.
The auditorium at the church’s top level is adorned with stunning murals in the distinct hand of Alasdair Gray - one of Glasgow’s most treasured artists. This part of the building is preserved for wedding events and ceilidhs, so access is restricted, but if you catch staff on a quiet day, they may consider taking you upstairs for a look!
The Oran Mor is also well known for it’s lunchtime theatre program, A Play, A Pie and A Pint – I’m sure you can work out what this involves without much explanation! A highly recommended afternoon treat.
Image credit: Oran Mor
The BAaD (Barras Art and Design) centre is a club and music venue hosted in a large covered courtyard in the Barras (with our weather, a roof is essential!), and close to the popular gig venue the Barrowlands Ballroom. The Barras is Glasgow’s oldest running market, full of serious bargains and equally serious Glaswegian characters, so is definitely worth a visit in itself.
The BAad has its own indoor market event, the ‘Braw Wee Fair’, which takes place on the first Saturday of every month. As well as this, the venue hosts film festivals, food and beer festivals and much more. Check out their facebook page to keep up to date with events.
Image credit: kiltr
Self-dubbed as ‘more than just a bar-club’, The Flying Duck prides itself in offering interesting alternative nights out to Glasgow’s club-goers (if you can manage to find the front door, that is). The Flying Duck hails from the same flagship family as Mono, as well as two other great Glasgow pubs (Stereo and The 78 – I told you pubs are what we do best!). In the past, their interesting event program has included life drawing classes, queer club nights, a surreal pub quiz and the last time I was there myself, staff began handing out free tea and toast at 1am to keep the crowd energised.
Following its recent renovation, the Glasgow School of Art union (or just ‘The Art School’, as it’s known) relaunched as a venue with its new and improved layout in 2014. The space feels much bigger now, and features an eclectic program of events (see their site for details).
The Assembly Building (as it was originally called) was built in 1927 directly facing Charles Rennie MackIntosh’s iconic art school building. MacIntosh’s art school was severely fire damaged in 2014 when a student’s final graduate project went up in flames the day before degree show. As someone who watched the building burn through a live feed for hours, it’s safe to say it’s a miracle the building is still standing. The Glasgow School of Art also run award-winning walking tours, which are highly recommended as this is this is a great way to see this beautiful area of the city.
Image credit: Glasgow School of Art
The Centre for Contemporary Art is, as you might expect, an art centre hosting an elaborate series of cultural events. Located in a grade ‘A’ listed building designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thompson, the CCA functions as an art gallery, cinema, workshop and gig venue.
The building has two great bars - one which is accessed via Scott Street (an extremely steep hill which is also the route toward the Glasgow School of Art, so be sure to visit both as you’ll only make this journey uphill once!) and a downstairs cafe bar, Saramago. Saramago offers a wide variety of tapas and an extremely eclectic beer and wine menu. They also have a great terrace at the upstairs bar which is great on the few days a year that the sun is shining!
Katie Paterson is a Researcher and Content Manager for Flipit Indonesia. As a Scottish expat living in Amsterdam, with her professional brain virtually on South East Asian soil, Katie is forever grateful to the internet for allowing her to live in all three places at once.
Stylish Stays in Glasgow
This homey 2-BR apartment is situated opposite Glasgow's most historic park, Glasgow Green. It is also close to the city's main attractions, People's Palace and Doulton Fountain.
Going to Glasgow? Check out more places to stay in Glasgow on Roomorama.