Scotland offers something for every demographic from the castles, historic cities, lakes and Highlands, to bagpipes and kilts, to amazing nature, and to fun nightlife.
Exploring Harris and Lewis with Wilderness Scotland It’s maybe the best feeling there is. Top of a mountain in one of the world’s most emotionally-charged places, in good company, a little sunburnt (what?!?) and surrounded by breathtaking island beauty. Those that know me or that are familiar with my travel ramblings will be unsurprised to…
Attending the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Ah, Speyside. Cue the misty eyed, dreamy state that’s taken ahold of many a traveller, drinks connoisuer and social butterfly to have ever visited. Home to around half of Scotland’s world-renowned whisky distilleries, it is our Golden Triangle of 50+ whisky houses, with brands from the legendary to…
Glasgow rocks, and it’s apparent. Countless bands have their start here from eighties rockers Simple Minds and Jesus and Mary Chain, to Supernaturals, Texas, Belle & Sebastian and Frightened Rabbit. The music venues of fame include King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and The Barrowland Ballroom are familiar to all. But what about all the other venues and what’s on this spring of note? What do you do if you are a traveler and haven’t a clue where to go. Well, you are in for a rest regardless, there is so much musical going on here.
Like any city you may visit, look at the local clubs and independent papers for where you are traveling to. You may want to do this several months before you arrive as some of the more popular bands may sell out quite early. If you are lucky and have friends and family in the place you plan to visit, you can have them get live tickets for you, but many places use services like eventbrite.com and other online ticket sellers and you can store on your phone. You may not be able to purchase unless you are in the UK as some apps and ticket selling sites are set up for UK addresses only at checkout, even if it’s an online ticket.
Local Papers and Music Resources
I always find and love to look through the local indie rags for any city like Glasgow. All port towns have a great independent news and cultural paper or two, usually online but occasionally you can still pick up a hard copy which is great as you can get that old textile feel for the paper. Music and theatre are a steady, vibrant beat in this town. Another great way to find out who is playing is of course to pick up flyers and promo cards from independent music stores. Some of the local stores are Record Fayre and Rubadub. Check the registers and windows for bank promos, and don’t forget your local cafe and coffee houses. Don’t forget to listen to the Buskers in Buchanan or other mall streets, many of them have CDs or will also tell you about the local music scene and who’s playing.
Like big music events? Spring marks the beginning of the festival season, so along with small music venues, you will find weekend festival events filling the air with sound. Check and see if there is one during your stay. These venues are filled with bands all day and into the night. Festivals coming up in Glasgow are the new May West Festival May 27, 28 TRNSMT 2017 Festival July 7 through 9 and they are hosting the BBC6 Festival this year.
Is This Music ? is a great, Northern UK publication online with music reviews and listings for where bands are playing. Glasgow Music has reviews and information specific to the city and outlying area. Reviews and venue information. And best of all, never forget that the universities in most cities have a student run radio station. The University of Glasgow’s student run station is Subcity Radio. Check out their reviews and music offerings.
Top Music Venues Glasgow
Is This Music?
Local Independent Music Stores
Subcity Radio Glasgow University
May West Festival 2017
TRNSMT Festival 2017
Photo by Craig Monaghan
If you guys follow my instagram you’d have seen how much I’ve visited Edinburgh in the past couple of months and how much I have fallen in love with the city, I love everything from the cafes to the shopping but most of all I love the views. So to commemorate this love here’s my […]
Hiking Buachaille Etive Mor in Glen Coe For just about every single fan of hillwalking in the Scottish Highlands, there’s going to be a special place in their heart and soul for Buachaille Etive Mor. The distinctive, much photographed pyramidal sentry that stands guard to the entrance of the most famous Glen of them all,…
On the last tour in Scotland I couldn’t get anywhere near Fringe Festival, the month long Arts fest that has been going strong for 70 years. All accommodations were booked up that I could afford. My trip to Edinburgh ended up being the week before and after talking to a few residents, realized I would need to book about an year in advance for best lodgings. This is of course if you want to deal with a large European city that has its population swell about three-fold in four weeks. Had to think about that. I lived in San Francisco where this came close to happening every summer. When you live in a large tourist destination, it’s your least favorite time of year. Some stay, some go on their own vacations.
It’s the 70th year, so the festival is gearing up even bigger. This festival is insane. I picked up the program last year and spent an hour or two combing all the acts and theatre performances. It’s packed and overwhelming with something for everyone. I decided I would have to try to make it this year. Now, how do you navigate one of the largest festivals in Europe for your first time and if you only have three days to spare? Research, of course.
Step 1 Book Accommodations Way Ahead
As I said before, last year I just couldn’t get reasonable rooms. Everyone I talked to said book early. Edinburgh is the most expensive of the cities in Scotland I found to spend time in as far as accommodations go. So shopping early is a great choice. You can always adjust later. Other festivals in the UK also require early bookings, and don’t count on camping accommodations as those will have been snagged up, unless you have some traveling companions in the know. You can however book in adjacent towns and ride in on the train, which runs extra trains during August.
Step 2 Enroll on Fringe Website
Most festivals have a website and you should join early. You will get updates to performances as new lineups happen. I am checking in as I heard many popular shows sell out quick. I am not be familiar with many of the performers, but I am only in the city for three days and have to cram. And some US performers do make it to the marathon. I see there is a Fringe society planning group for your visit. Ooo, I have pals.
Looks like I may have to book my train run early ish as well. ScotRail has festival trains for the month, but they may be a bit packed, so better book the to the festival run at least a month out. What a contrast is will be from the tranquility of Skye where I will be coming from.
Did I say marathon? Yes, for the performers and the patrons. Many a US comic has lamented that they survived the Fringe Fest. It’s a month of shows and you may have 2-3 a day to do, and your venues can be spread out. Search for some comedy on Netflicks with Fringe Fest in the title and see what I mean. Get a perspective from a comic, and of course YouTube.
Step 3 Research, Who to See, or How to See Them
Okay, so here is the thing. There are thousands of shows and performers. Many of them trying to make it, new to it, feeling it out. It’s a festival, that means experimentation. You may find some names you are familiar with, but it’s not going to be a headliner affair like you may be used to in your home town. So, how to pick things to go to and not strike out. Go with an open mind. I know I like impromptu theatre. So, I can probably be highly amused regardless. How to do this on a limited budget? Look for free and discount shows. Go during the day. Wait for reviews. Get the App for the Fringe. Sounds like a lot of ways to get overloaded. Most of what I have read has said to wait to find deals when you get there. Keep an eye out for the daily reviews of shows. Talk to a more experienced attendee near you. I plan on interviewing people while there to get their take on the festival.
Step 4 Make Sure Your Accommodation is Really Booked.
Your accommodation should always be booked well ahead in any place you stay, but I have had weird things crop up while traveling overseas and had rooms get overbooked, and computer glitches happen. Confirm you have a booking. If you would like to go but all things are booked up, you can find accommodations in bordering towns and take the train in. Extra transit is provided during this month.
Step 5 Enjoy
With all the craziness of any festival like this, sometimes you need to pull out and decompress. Edinburgh has so many great little spots, courtyards, district areas that you can take a few streets to the left or right and find a smaller space to eat some great Pop-Up restaurant food and just let go for a bit. Making a decision on whether to cram every minute with theatre, dance, music, and all other arts can be and exhausting stimulus. That fear that you may have to choose between 3 things is a bit much for us. Remember, spontaneity can be living in the moment and just breathing.
Prepare for weather. My summer experiences in Edinburgh were that they were very close to San Francisco/Portland weather. Changeable within a day, check your weather app. Bring light rain gear, also suncream and your brelly. Hopefully the performance you are seeing is in shelter.
DOWNLOAD THE APP. As we get closer to August, the festival puts out an App that is very useful for booking and getting up to the minute information. You also have a feature where you can check shows via your location to see what is about to start near your location. You can also purchase tickets via the app. Keep an eye out for this App appearing in July in the Android and Apple Apps stores.