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Glasgow VisitORs Guide & Activities

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Mackintosh Trail  |  Culture  |  Hunterian Museum  |  Burrell Collection  |  Concert Hall  |  Festivals  |  Celtic Connections  |  Glasgow Film Festival  |  Comedy Festival  |  Glasgay!  |  Glasgow Shopping  |  Braehead  |  Princes Square  |  Italian Centre  |   Hampden Scottish Football Museum  |  SECC  |  Buchanan Galleries
Glasgow Science Centre

Mackintosh Trail

Glasgow likes to boast that it is Scotland with Style. Certainly the city has a great tradition of innovative design, going back to Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his partners in the Glasgow Style, the Glasgow Girls. This is an instantly recognisable art nouveau style, characterised by flowing lines and nature motifs, conjuring an atmosphere of timeless elegance.

While Mackintosh was immediately recognized as an influential architect in Vienna, he wasn’t so appreciated in his home town, and some of his original buildings demolished . However, many of Mackintosh’s original buildings still stand in the city; while others have been painstakingly rebuilt and restored.

His award-winning House for an Art lover, was completed almost a century after winning a German design competition. The house where he and Margaret McDonald lived was knocked down but recreated round the corner, and the designs incorporated into Glasgow University’s Hunterian Museum This gallery holds a major collection of his furniture and watercolours.

Go on a Mackintosh Trail around Glasgow and its environs, and visit iconic buildings from the seminal Glasgow Art School to Hill House in Helensburgh, perhaps his most sublime interior.

The Lighthouse, a design museum built in his old Glasgow Herald building, contains the Mack Centre, offering an invaluable insight into his life and work.


Glasgow has long been renowned for its humour and hospitality. More recently, the city has become known as a hotspot for music, and a crucible for contemporary art. The city is justly famous world-wide for its cultural exports, from Billy Connolly to Frankie Boyle, from Franz Ferdinand to Alasdair Gray. There is no substitute for coming to the city and experiencing it for yourself.

Hunterian Museum

Scotland’s oldest public museum, the Hunterian, is the museum and gallery of Glasgow University. The museum was set up in 1807 to house the collection of the eminent anatomist William Hunter. The collection is now held over several buildings on campus. His incredible collection of anatomical curiosities is housed apart from the main collection. Be warned, it’s not suitable for children or the squeamish!

His extensive Roman collection is in the process of being rehoused in a new custom built space, open to the public in summer 2011. The new Roman Frontier Gallery will explore the interaction between the people of Scotland and the occupying Roman army, There is also a fascinating collection of fossils.

The Hunterian Gallery holds the university’s substantial art collection, with major collections of Whistler and the Glasgow Boys. There is too much work to display at one time; watch out for the Gallery’s temporary exhibitions, where you could also see the work of such modern icons as Joseph Beuys or John Cage.

The Hunterian also contains a recreation of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s house, which used to be just around the corner until its demolition. As well as this beautiful interior, the Gallery has the most substantial collections of Mackintosh’s furniture and watercolours, making it an essential stop on the Mackintosh trail.

Burrell Collection

The Burrell Collection is one of the largest collections of art and artefacts ever amassed by a private individual, comprising over 8000 objects. Donated to the city by the shipping magnate William Burrell in 1944, the collection was far too vast to house anywhere, but Glasgow Council eventually found a home for it in the beautiful woodland setting of Pollok Park. The light, airy building is designed in steel and glass to create a harmony between itself and the garden; one of the joys of this museum is the way it blends into the landscape, and the different lighting conditions it affords to view the collection.

Architectural features from the collection have been integrated into the structure of the building - you can walk under arches built for medieval lords and ladies. There are also reconstructions of rooms from Sir William’s home, furnished in gothic style with items from the collection.Focusing on late medieval and early Renaissance Europe, the Burrell contains important examples of Islamic art, artefacts from Ancient Civilisations, and one of the largest collections of Chinese art in Europe.

Concert Hall

The Royal Concert Halls came out of Glasgow’s tenure as European City of Culture. This prestigious venue has a range of rooms for different occasions, including a 2,475 seat main auditorium. What all the rooms have in common is amazing acoustics, which have attracted such big names as Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones and Brian Wilson to play here. The Concert Hall is Glasgow’s premier venue in which to hear classical music, with regular concerts from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the RSNO.

As well as classical music, the Concert Hall is a prominent venue for the Celtic Connections and Glasgow Jazz Festivals. A new addition to the Festival circuit is the Festival of Minimalism, which is attracting a younger, hipper crowd with the music of Glass, Reich and Nyman.

With over 400 concerts held here a year you’re sure to find something you’ll want to hear.


Edinburgh is justly famous for its festivals, but Glasgow also a rich range of festivals, spread out over the entire year.

Celtic Connections

The first festival on the Glaswegian calendar is Celtic Connections, a celebration of folk music from Scotland and abroad. The festival actively promotes artistic links and cultural exchange across countries, so as well as traditional Scottish music you could see anything from American bluegrass to Tibetan throat singing.

Glasgow Film Festival

Glasgow Film Festival takes place in February, and is going from strength to strength. It may have less premiers and stars in attendance than the Edinburgh Film Festival, but it makes up for that by being a very accessible and audience-friendly festival.

Comedy Festival

Glaswegians are renowned for their sense of humour, so it’s no surprise they have one of Europe’s best comedy festivals. The Glasgow Comedy Festival is another popular Glaswegian festival. It grew out of the comedy club The Stand (well worth a visit in itself) and attracts big names you may know from TV, like Stephen K Amos and John Bishop, and others you will never see on TV (stand up Jerry Sadowitz).


Glasgay! is the UK’s largest festival of queer culture. Held every Autumn, the Festival takes place over various venues in the city, with a diverse programme of drama, dance, comedy, physical theatre, art and music. In 2011 a celebration of Scotland’s first poet laureate Edwin Morgan will be a centrepiece of the celebrations.


Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in Europe, with a rich heritage reflected in its stunning architecture. For this reason the city has been referred to as the Athens of the North. Edinburgh sprawls around the Castle, built on top of an extinct volcano. Other hills, such as Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill, afford spectacular city views.

The New Town features splendid Georgian terraces, the Old Town is a maze of medieval buildings, all with a rich history and legacy. Both are recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. There are many tours available to help you navigate your way through Edinburgh’s (often charmingly cobbled) streets.

There are a wealth of museums and galleries to visit, many with internationally important collections. Edinburgh is regularly voted the best place to live in Britain; it is undoubtedly the second most popular tourist destination, after London. Visit yourself and find out why.

Glasgow Shopping

Glasgow is well-known for its shopping opportunities, being the UK’s second most popular shopping destination after London. From the upscale attractions of Princes Square to the down home pleasures of the Barras market, you’re sure to find something to appeal. Additionally, there are many good shopping options nearby.


Braehead is one of Scotland’s largest shopping centres. It hosts a variety of shops, including Marks and Spencer, Monsoon and the UK’s largest Ikea. Pick up a fine Italian shirt at 7 Camicie, then relax in one of the eateries on site.

With ice skating, curling and skiing at Xscape all available, not to mention the Scottish Maritime Museum, you could easily spend a great day out at Braehead.

Princes Square

Princes Square is the most elegant, stylish place to go shopping in Glasgow. This splendid Victorian building has been designed to recreate the golden age of Glasgow, with art nouveau motifs, banks of escalators and glass-sided lifts to let you appreciate the splendour. There is a good range of upmarket high street shops, such as Whistles and Ted Baker, and luxury boutiques over the three floors.

Britain’s most idiosyncratic designer, Vivienne Westwood, who famously brought tartan back into modern fashion, has her only Scottish shop here. Quality menswear brands include Belstaff and Lacoste.

Europe’s leading shoe retailer Kurt Geiger has a store here, as Moda in Pelle do for the ladies.

Visit Castle Galleries and pick up an original work art, or buy a gift or remembrance from award-winning shop Illumination.

Italian Centre

The Italian Centre is one of Glasgow’s most stylish places to shop. Located in the Merchant City, the Italian Centre is a courtyard accessed through archways, with pavement cafes so that you can wine and dine alfresco, in Continental style. The Italian Centre offers a selection of Italian designer shops, and was the site of the UK’s first Versace store. Here you can stock up on timelessly elegant fashion from the likes of Gucci and Armani, and Emporio Armani is also available. While the Italian Centre is a favoured hangout for Glasgow’s beautiful people, you don’t have to be a size zero to shop here.

Big Ideas is a bright little boutique showcasing fashionable plus-size womenswear (size 16 and up). Although it's aimed at an older age range, the clothes are decidedly un-frumpy: there's a wide range of interesting designer lines in store, and some particularly interesting knitwear.

Hampden Scottish Football Museum

Glasgow is a football city, a fact celebrated by the Hampden Scottish Football Museum. Hampden was where the first international game was played, between Scotland and England in 1872. A ticket from that historic game is on display here, one of two and a half thousand objects and memorabilia from the earliest days of football to the present day. See the world's first national trophy, 1873's SFA Challenge Cup. Visit the Hall of Fame where legends like Jimmy Johnstone and Jim Baxter have been immortalised. It’s not just famous players, either; Scotland's infamous 'Tartan Army' of supporters have their own display! Behind the scenes tours of the stadium are also available.


The SECC is Scotland’s largest conference centre, with a variety of halls capable of holding musical and theatrical events on the largest scale. The Norman Foster-designed part of the building has become an iconic part of the Glasgow skyline, and is affectionately known by the locals as the Armadillo.

The SECC has been the stage for some of the biggest names in music, from local heroes like Franz Ferdinand to international megastars such as the Rolling Stones, from Bowie to the Beastie Boys, who famously used the cavernous space to advantage, by holding a gig in a revolving boxing ring.

Buchanan Galleries

Glasgow is the UK’s second most popular shopping location, and the Buchanan Galleries Glasgow’s most popular shopping arcade. Located in the city centre, in Glasgow’s ‘style mile’, the Galleries offer 90 shops over three floors, with a food court on the top floor.

The emphasis is on clothes and accessories shops, with some good home furnishings stores also. All of these categories come together at John Lewis’, a classic British department store with something for everyone. Men will find such classic menswear stores as Cecil Gee, Fred Perry and Levi’s.

Women are spoilt for choice, with such shops as Oasis, Miss Selfridge and Jacques Vert for occasional wear.

You can pick up fine jewellery from Goldsmiths, or exquisite crystal from Swarovski’s. Cosy Campers sell headwear and boots for the great outdoors, some with a fun twist. Glasgow Reflections sells prints of Glaswegian and Scottish scenes. And if you’re looking for something typically Scottish, you can always visit the Whisky Shop.

Glasgow Science Centre

The Glasgow Science Centre is one of Scotland's must-see visitor attractions - presenting concepts of science and technology in unique and inspiring ways.
Explore 300 hands-on exhibits, interactive workshops and live science shows. The Centre provides a good variety of exhilarating experiences