HOT SPOT: Glasgow

Wondering where to go this summer? It's all happening in this spirited Scottish city

Wondering where to go this summer? It’s all happening in this spirited Scottish city

Why’s it hot? Glasgow’s in buoyant mood as it prepares to host the XX Commonwealth Games (23 July-3 August; glasgow2014.com), which will draw athletes from 71 nations to the city. It’s not just about huffing and puffing, though – running alongside the sporting competition is a huge cultural programme. Highlights include Generation, a series of exhibitions celebrating 25 years of contemporary art in Scotland (generationartscotland.org), and Vintage Glasgow at Merchant City Festival (26-27 July; merchantcityfestival.com) which will feature dancing events, hair and beauty makeovers and fashion stalls in a lively weekend curated by Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway.

Following this, the annual Glasgow Summer Sessions, staged in Bellahouston Park, has already lined up David Guetta and The Killers (16 and 19 August respectively; glasgowsummersessions.com) with more acts to follow. And while much is made of Glasgow’s rivalry with Edinburgh, you can easily enjoy the best of both cities. Rail links between the two take around 45 minutes (scotrail.com), so you can catch at least one of this year’s many Edinburgh Festivals (edinburghfestivals.co.uk) as well.

Frocks away: having fun at the Merchant City Festival © Chris Jackson

What’s it got? Straddling the River Clyde, Glasgow has a hilly and dishevelled look but is rich with architectural jewels ranging from the Victorian People’s Palace and Winter Garden (glasgowlife.org.uk), which tells the story of the city since 1750, to the dynamic Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum (glasgowlife.org.uk), devoted to transport. Entry to both, and many more attractions, is free.

Shopping is centred on the ‘Style Mile’ (glasgowstylemile.com), which has many well-known retailers. It’s also worth seeking out independent designers such as the contemporary jewellers Brazen (brazenstudios.co.uk), Timorous Beasties (timorousbeasties.com), purveyors of quirky wallpaper, and the fun gifts and home goodies created by Gillian Kyle (gilliankyle.com). Byres Road is the place to go for vintage, where you’ll find well-selected clothes at Vintage Guru (vintageguru.co.uk) and mid-century furniture in Ruthven Mews Arcade (antiques-interiors.co.uk).

On the food front, we love Mother India’s Cafe (motherindia.co.uk), a contemporary Indian restaurant beside Kelvingrove Art Gallery that serves spicy tapas dishes. Book well ahead for the small but brilliant Crabshakk (crabshakk.com), which champions Scottish fish and seafood, while the long-established Ubiquitous Chip (ubiquitouschip.co.uk) in the West End serves tempting dishes such as Galloway venison with Bloody Mary tomatoes.

Love your fringe… Murals are brightening up the streets of Glasgow © imagepalace.co.uk

Wow factor Glasgow’s live music scene is its strongest card. Many famous names have started here, from Lulu to Franz Ferdinand, while Oasis were discovered at the 300-capacity King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut (kingtuts.co.uk), which is still a crucible for emerging talent. Glasgow is one of only five places around the world to be declared a City of Music by Unesco, and every week around 130 musical events take place. Opened last September, the SSE Hydro (thehydro.com) is a state-of-the-art 12,000-capacity arena, while at the other end of the timeline Barrowland (glasgow-barrowland.com) is a cavernous ballroom that opened in 1960 with a wood-sprung dance floor, monumental oak pillars and space for 1,900 revellers. Other venues worth checking out are The Arches (thearches.co.uk) and SWG3 (swg3.tv). To learn more about the city’s musical heritage download the enjoyable and informative audio tours created by Walking Heads (walkingheads.net).

Let’s paint the town red: the lounge at CitizenM Glasgow

Need to know: There’s lots of great places to stay in Glasgow. The 100-room Blythswood Square (doubles from £125; blythswoodsquare.com) is a firm favourite for a stylish stay with a grand setting and spa, while Hotel Indigo Glasgow (from £95; hotelindigoglasgow.com) has contemporary rooms in a former power station close to Central Station. CitizenM Glasgow (from £65; citizenm.com) is a purpose-built hotel with 198 cabin-style rooms, a cheerful vibe and free movies. Newly opened near George Square, Z Glasgow (thezhotels.com) has smart, compact rooms from £48 (with no window) or £60 (with) including free wifi and Sky channels. Taxis are reasonable, for public transport see peoplemakeglasgow.com.

Still shining bright: Glasgow’s People’s Palace, opened in 1898

Book now: For flights to Glasgow see whoflieswhere.co.uk, for rail connections nationalrail.co.uk. Rough Guides Snapshot Glasgow is a detailed e-guide (£1.99; roughguides.com); useful websites include glasgowlife.org.uk and peoplemakeglasgow.com.

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