Glasgow: City of rock, pop and folk music


Raucous rock shows, classical concerts, traditional Scottish music in local pubs… There’s so much live music in Glasgow you can practically see the notes rising from the skyline and floating out over the River Clyde.

UNESCO City Of Music

A UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow is packed with world-class performance venues and home-grown talent.

Local music heroes range from stadium-filling rock bands like Simple Minds, Franz Ferdinand and Primal Scream to Hudson Mohawke, a rising electronic dance music star.

Glasgow is also home to the Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet companies, as well as numerous choirs, jazz bands and folk groups.

Legendary Glasgow music venues

On any night of the week, you can easily find a live event within a few blocks of your hotel.

The city centre is packed with pubs and clubs that host regular gigs while serving as hangouts for Glasgow’s indie rock and underground dance music scenes. Popular venues include Nice’n’Sleazy, King Tut’s Wah-Wah Hut and The Sub Club.

The List will tell you what’s on in Glasgow, when and where.

Glasgow’s rock history

Around Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street and Argyle Street you’ll find most of Glasgow’s main theatres and major music venues, including the O2 ABC, which stages big-name shows every week. The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall often hosts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and plays a big role in the Celtic Connections music festival every January.

Just east by “The Barras” market lies the legendary Barrowland Ballroom, a 2,100-capacity venue which has hosted Oasis and U2. This is where the city’s rock ’n’ roll reputation was born in the 1950s, when early Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley records were offloaded at the nearby docks and carried straight to the dance hall.

Pop hits to folk music

Follow the River Clyde westward and you hit the futuristic SSE Hydro by the armadillo-shaped Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre. Both are large-scale concert venues, with the 13,000-capacity Hydro attracting pop megastars like Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj.

But if you’re looking for the real, old sound of Scotland, you can hear it played live by fiddlers, clairsach harpists, and bodran drummers at The Scotia or Ben Nevis. These two long-standing pubs near the River Clyde are known and loved for their regular traditional music sessions. A pint of local ale or a dram of single malt whisky will help bring out the sweetness and nostalgia of the songs.

For more information on things to do, as well as places to stay in Glasgow visit our destination guide.

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