It’s not just the class acts that bring the stage to life in the buzzing city of Glasgow. It’s the combination of talent and the distinctive look of some of the historic venues that can really make your trip one to remember. Whether it’s witty comedians, rock legends or local thespians in the spotlight, you’ll be spoilt for entertainment. But that’s not all. Home of the Scottish Opera, the city is a classical music hot spot, there’s not one but two legendary football teams, plus it hosts one of the world’s largest comedy festivals each year. Here’s our city listing of where to catch the best shows and events in town and, wherever you end up, rest assured that one of Premier Inn’s clean, comfortable Glasgow hotels will be just around the corner.
Entertainment in Glasgow
Not surprisingly for the town that was named the UK’s first ever UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow is a great place for gig-goers. When you get there, you’ll find it easy to see why it won this prestigious title, back in 2008. Hosting an average of 130 music events in any given week, you’ll find every scene and genre represented, from hip-hop, indie and rock to more traditional celtic sounds.
Want to catch a musical superstar, like Beyonce or Justin Timberlake? The SSE Hydro is the place to head. Opening its doors in September 2013, it holds up to 13,000 fans in its amphitheatre style auditorium. Without a doubt Scotland’s largest entertainment venue, it has seen the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Lady Gaga and Muse take to the stage. And you can enjoy rocking out to your favourite acts, safe in the knowledge that your clean comfortable Premier Inn hotel, right by the SSE Hydro is just a short stroll away from the stage door.
Officially opening in 2003, the ground on which the O2 Academy is built is steeped in fascinating history after numerous openings, closings and rebuilds spanning nearly two centuries. Now, it’s a thriving music venue that’s hosted the likes of soul brother James Brown, The Killers and Snoop Dogg.
If the neon Barrowlands sign doesn’t get you excited, nothing will. This iconic music venue and ballroom hall dates back to the 1960s and has hosted some of the biggest names in the industry including Metallica, Oasis and The Clash. Famous for its acoustics and affectionately nicknamed ‘The Barras’, it brings charming, Glaswegian warmth by the bucket load to up to 2,100 people every night.
Standing tall in the heart of the West End, Oran Mor was once a church but is now a cultural hub known for its live music. With two restaurants and two bars inside you’ll also find a crypt-like basement and beautiful mural-ceilinged auditorium. Many of the biggest names in music have played here, including the late Amy Winehouse and Calvin Harris, as well as plenty of up-and-coming bands from Glasgow’s thriving music scene.
From the small and intimate to the seriously show-stopping, some of Glasgow’s theatres are so impressive, they’re attractions in themselves. Whether you fancy watching big-name touring shows hot off the West End, it’s also a great place for watching up-and-coming actors treading the boards. Here’s our pick of the city’s theatrical hot spots.
King’s Theatre has been shining its spotlight since 1904. Built by prolific theatre architect Frank Matcham, it continues to be a coveted spot for touring musicals, dance, comedy and circus performances. Past legends, including Katharine Hepburn and The Jackson Five, have made the bill while today sees the cast of Chicago the Musical and CATS do their thing. It’s the annual pantomime that makes this venue oh so special too!
While the Theatre Royal is the oldest theatre in Glasgow and first opened in 1867, a recent refurbishment has brought it right up to date, while keeping all of its gorgeous original features. The Victorian auditorium will take you back in time, but there are some fabulous, light-filled contemporary areas to relax in, too. Expect fabulous productions from the National Theatre of Scotland, musicals and comedy.
Designed by Bertie Crewe in 1904 the, Pavillion Theatre has been entertaining audiences for over 100 years and it looks virtually unchanged. With art deco stained glass, marble flooring and Louis XV style furniture, it’s a treat for the eyes. Today, the shows include musicals, comedy and legendary pantomimes.
Glasgow is the home of opera in Scotland. Scottish Opera, the national opera company of Scotland, is based in the city, and it’s the largest performing arts organisation in Scotland.
The main opera venue in the city is the Theatre Royal. The performance home of both the Scottish Opera, and the Scottish Ballet, you’ll find a wide range of opera performances throughout the season, with recent stand-out shows such as Rigoletto, The Magic Flute and BambinO - an opera aimed at children.
One of the city’s most prestigious venues, the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall hosts nearly 250 performances each year. Opened in 1990 to celebrate Glasgow’s City of Culture status, it’s now the performance base of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the main venue for the Celtic Connections Festival, set up to celebrate the world of Celtic music.
Although it’s been open since 1841 and is Glasgow’s oldest purpose-built performance space, the acoustics at City Halls still sound pristine. Everyone from full orchestras to soloists flock to play in the traditional shoebox style auditorium, while the spectacular hall is also home to the Scottish Music Centre.
There’s no better way to soak up some local atmosphere than at a sporting event. From hearing the roar of the Rangers and Celtic fans to watching the Glasgow Warriors get ready for battle on the rugby pitch, it’s always going to be an entertaining fun day out. If you want to get even closer to the action, take one of the many stadium tours on offer. They’ll be sure to make your trip all the more memorable.
Hampden Park opened in 1903 and once had a record attendance of a Scotland v England match of nearly 150,000 people. It now holds just a third of that capacity, but it’s just as showstopping. Even if you don’t catch a mach, the Hampden Experience is really entertaining. It includes a stadium tour and visit to the Scottish Football Museum to learn all about the heritage of the game.
Celtic Park is a mecca to Celtic fans, but even if your allegiances lie elsewhere, you can’t deny it’s packed full of history. A stadium tour is a great way to learn about the rivalry between Celtic and Rangers - plus there’s a superstore for souvenirs to take home. We’ve also got a range of Premier Inn hotels near Celtic Park to get your footie mad day off to a great start.
Home to Rangers FC, Ibrox Stadium also runs an access-all-area tour. Get exclusive access to both the home and away dressing rooms, climb the famous marble staircase and marvel at all things shiny in the Trophy Room. And nothing beats running down the tunnel and taking a seat in the dugout.
From 2012-15, Scotstoun Stadium had the coveted role of hosting the famous Scotland Rugby Sevens. Presently, it’s both the home of The Glasgow Warriors and a super-cool athletics venue. Complete with new synthetic pitches and training grounds, the stadium prides itself on being a hub for the community so come match day, there’s tournaments, skills clinic and local club games. Ever wanted to meet a mascot? Keep your eye out for ScottieRoo the stadium mascot.
Whether you’re after a rip roaring belly laugh, a sing-a-long at a Celtic gig or want to know how the Glaswegians do Christmas, there’s something going on throughout the whole year. What’s amazing about shows and events in Glasgow is seeing how much pride the locals have in their Scottish roots - and showcasing it to everyone and anyone. Just prepare for lots of laughing, eating, jigging and serious film watching.
Ever wondered how to do a Scottish jig? Find out at Celtic Connections, Glasgow’s annual folk and roots music festival. Celebrating the gorgeous sounds of Celtic music and its influence around the world every January, there’ll be around 300 events including concerts, art exhibitions, workshops and ‘ceilidhs’ - these singing social gatherings can go on into the wee hours! Past hosting venues have included the SSE Hydro and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall with artists such as Van Morrison and Sinead O’Connor performing.
Screening the best in international, Hollywood and Scottish film, make sure you have your popcorn at the ready at the Glasgow Film Festival. Known to show a few premieres in their time, stunning past venues for screenings have included the Barrowlands, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum as well as The Planetarium at Glasgow Science Centre. What’s more, there are often special free screenings of films and talks with important people in the film industry.
Come to the Glasgow Loves Christmas festival and you’ll be in the festive spirit in no time. Under a sky of the streets’ twinkling lights, stunning festive decorations and hearing the sound of Santa’s sleigh bells, it’s a fantastic time to visit the city. Enjoy traditional Christmas markets, a late night shopping trip down the Style Mile and watch George Square illuminate as the Christmas lights get switched on.
Glaswegians are renowned for their good humour, so it's no surprise that the city’s comedy scene is thriving. Home to one of the best comedy festivals in the world, you’ll also find a great range of comedy venues, showcasing global stars as well as the very best of homegrown Scottish talent.
Starting back in 2003, the Glasgow Comedy Festival is now the biggest in Europe. With over 300 shows across more than 40 venues, the likes of Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle have all had the audience belly laughing over the years. Not just for the comedy circuit veterans, the festival prides itself on new and upcoming comedians getting their time to shine too over the 18 days of fun.
A very intimate comedy venue, The Stand is a must-visit. This basement bar is a great place to catch Scottish comedian Kevin Bridges playing low-key gigs on his home turf. From comedy rap battles to Michael Redmond’s legendary Sunday Service, shows in the compact club are often packed out, so arrive early or you may have to stand at the back.
Once called the Vespbar, the referendum hit and this small comedy club and restaurant had a slight name-change to become the Yesbar. Playing to packed audiences four nights a week, well-known acts try out new material on Wednesdays. And if you can stand to watch people getting booed off stage, head to Yesbar Virgins – where new comedians take to the mic.