Merchant City Festival 2017: What to Check Out

Summertime in Glasgow means a few things are for certain: there’s less chance of you getting soaked as you go about your day (oh, sunshine – how I’ve missed you!), the ice cream van in Kelvingrove Park will do a roaring trade (because any price is reasonable when you’re spending your day basking in the sun, loving life…)  and, finally, Glasgow’s festival season kicks off!

Yup, Glasgow LOVES a summer shindig and, hot off the heels of recent TRNSMT and Mela festivals, we now have Merchant City Festival launching on 22nd July.

This nine-day celebration of arts and culture is jam-packed with events and activities. We’re spoiled for choice with music, comedy, exhibitions, street food, club nights, performances and much more – so deciding what to check out over the festival period is tough! 

I’ve got my eye on a few things and I thought I would share my Merchant City Festival 2017 picks – just in case you need help making your mind up, or if you’re new to the festival altogether and don’t know where to start!

Red Bus Bistro

Hanging out in a 1966 Routemaster bus has vintage style written all over it but throw a tasty afternoon tea into the mix and it’s EVEN MORE appealing! The Red Bus Bistro will be stationed in Wilson Street on the 22nd and 23rd of July serving teatime treats by day and cocktails n’ deli platters by night.

Massaoke

Part gig, part karaoke and 100% party, Massaoke’s events have been sweeping the nation and, for one night only (29th July at the Old Fruitmarket), it’s coming to Glasgow as part of Merchant City Festival. What’s Massaoke? I’m so glad you asked! A live band plays everyone’s favourite hits while the lyrics are displayed on huge screens, inviting the crowd to belt out the words together. It’s so crazy it just might work. I’ve got my ticket – see you there?

Punk Archaeology

Anyone walking around the city can see the spirit of 1970s punk well and truly lives on in Glasgow today and this one-off event delves a little deeper into punk history and culture. With a panel of guest speakers exploring punk in Scotland (and Glasgow in particular of course!), the evening will then be concluded with a special screening of Derek Jarman’s 1978 cult movie, Jubilee. Get in touch with your punk roots on 26th July at City Halls.

Merchant City Photography Tour: Glasgow Doors Open Day with Dreghorn Photography School 

The eagle-eyed (and very loyal!) amongst you may remember I had a class with Dreghorn Photography School a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I’d recommend learning some tips from these guys whether you’re a beginner or seasoned snapper! They’re running two free classes (places booked via Eventbrite) on the 23rd and 29th, and will be giving their attendees exclusive access to some of the areas beautiful buildings to nail that perfect shot.

Big Feed on Tour

If you love mouthwatering street food and a friendly atmosphere, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard of Big Feed’s regular indoor markets which have foodies all over town swooning. Showcasing the very best of Glasgow’s indie food vendors, their events are already becoming pretty legendary so, when I heard they were going ‘on tour’ to Merchant City, I popped their dates in my diary. Catch them on Brunswick Street on the 28th, 29th and 30th of this month.

Phew! Can you believe that I’m only scratching the surface here? You can find out more about these events, plus the ENTIRE Merchant City Festival 2017 programme, here!

Will you be visiting the festival this year? And what are some of your favourite things about Glasgow in summer?

A Postcard from LA

It’s been one month since we arrived back in Glasgow from our US road trip and I’m honestly still processing a lot of it! I can’t believe the distance we covered (about 4,000 miles – not including flights!), the things we seen (seven beautiful states!) and the places we visited. Mountains, deserts, towns, forests and cities – you name it, we probably went there!

We started our journey in California and, after a few days in Anaheim, spent four nights in LA. It was our first time visiting this awesome city and I really wanted to share a few highlights with you guys.

Here’s a postcard from LA…

Shopping

LA is ridiculously good for shopping and the mix of stores is perfect! We loved the indie streetwear, vintage treasure and high-end designer stores on Melrose, alongside specialist stores like Drake’s OVO and the adorable Pigmy Hippo Shoppe just a short walk away.

We stayed near The Grove which is a really nice outdoor shopping mall, filled with all the usual retailers like Sephora and Zara plus a really great farmer’s market. I had to be super strict with myself in LA, otherwise I’d have needed an extra suitcase!

Food

You’ll never be stuck for a bite to eat in LA and we noticed that tacos were the most popular dish (though we couldn’t get near the Mexican bars on Cinco de Mayo – too busy!). One of my favourite places we grabbed breakfast was Eggslut… so much so that I’ve been trying to recreate the sandwich I had ever since!

We also adored Cake Monkey, which came highly recommended by some of you over on Instagram. Amazing cakes and delicious coffee – it’s probably for the best that we discovered it on our last day in the city…

Sightseeing

In just a few days, we managed to squeeze in a lot of sightseeing. It was fun to tick the Hollywood Walk of Fame off of our list but, if you go, be prepared for it to be extremely crowded! Seeing the hand and foot prints outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre was like taking in a little bit of cinematic history and we also couldn’t resist going on a studio tour while we were in Tinsel Town – we chose the Warner Brothers tour and loved every minute!

The Griffith Observatory at the top of the Hollywood Hills has stunning views and is well worth the hike/Uber ride up there – especially on a clear day.

We also hit a couple of beaches for some laid-back, California vibes. Venice Beach was iconic and exactly how it looks in the movies and Santa Monica was perfect for people watching (and posing!).

Staying

While in LA, we stayed in Fairfax at The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel. I’m not going to mention too much about the hotel itself (there’s a separate review post in the works!), but the area itself was very well-located for shopping and food. Plus, you could see the Hollywood sign as soon as you stepped out of the door!

I think the best thing we found about spending time in LA is that you can really make it any kind of trip you want. If you want to take it easy, there are plenty of nice places and beaches to hang out at or, if you’d rather to be a tourist, there are plenty of activities to fill your day with too.

We left the city with lots of great memories but still hungry for a little bit more. I have a feeling we will be back in this babe of a town someday… watch this space! In the meantime, for more photos from our road trip, hop over to my Instagram and take a peek.

Have you ever visited LA? What are your favourite things to do in la la land?

Put Your Wallet Away: Free Things To Do in Glasgow

Free Things To Do in Glasgow

It always makes me happy when far-flung friends, friends of friends and ‘internet friends’ decide to visit Glasgow and see for themselves the city that I’m always talking up so much.

Of course, I can never resist sharing a few ideas on how to spend an hour, a day or even a long weekend and, before I know it, I’ve emailed a list as long as my arm! But, more recently, I’ve been asked for budget-friendly activities from people looking to get a taste of Glasgow for little to no expense at all.

Never one to turn down a challenge, it got me thinking about how much there is to see and do here. I wondered if I could come up with a list of completely free things to do in Glasgow, so that no matter what your budget, and whether you’re local or a visitor, you’re guaranteed to have fun!

So, put your wallet away – this one’s on me…

Free Things To Do in Glasgow

Tour some street art. This city is bursting with talented local artists and you can find their work brightening up quiet corners, vacant buildings and some of Glasgow’s most historic streets with splashes of colour, humour and heart. You can discover them for yourself while out and about or hit the mural trail and catch ’em all, Pokemon-style! See the full trail and map guide here.

Live that park life. A Blur reference? REALLY? Oh, just go with it! As well as there being a ton of city streets to stomp around, Glasgow is also home to some beautiful green spaces and parks that you just have to see. A summer afternoon at Kelvingrove Park is hard to beat, though a Saturday morning seeing the ducks quacking around Queen’s Park is a contender. Picturesque, sprawling and free of charge, what more do you need?

Take in some views. Speaking of Queen’s Park, you can stroll / be pushed up the hill towards the viewing platform, which gives some amazing views of the Southside, the Clyde Valley and The Trossachs. Meanwhile, in the city centre, pop into the Lighthouse on Mitchell Lane and use the lift to zip up to the 6th floor to get another impressive view of the city.

Free Things To Do in Glasgow

Get totally tropical. Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens turn 200 years old this year (!) and are still home to a stunning collection of tropical plants at the Kibble Palace and glasshouses. There’s nothing like being able to take a stroll under some palm trees while it’s 2 degrees and raining outside! Only in Glasgow…

Go behind the scenes in an iconic building. Overlooking George Square you’ll find the City Chambers, an imposing building which holds an important place in Glasgow’s history. It’s also home to such grandeur as the largest marble staircase in Western Europe, a Banqueting Hall and stunning vaulted ceilings. But don’t take my word for it – the City Chambers run free tours of the building twice daily from Monday-Friday!

Soak up some art and culture, dah-ling. We are extremely lucky in Glasgow as a lot of opportunities to check out museum and art exhibitions are accessible to everyone. As well as having festivals to celebrate art and culture, entry to our most popular art galleries and museums is free of charge (though donations are gratefully received!). Gallery of Modern Art, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum and Riverside Museum are all excellent places to start.

Free things to do in glasgow

Say hello to the coos. As well as attracting visitors to its woodland walks and the world famous Burrell Collection, the award-winning Pollok Country Park is also home to a rather special (and rather cute!) herd of Highland cattle. Huge, hairy and owners of the sassiest fringes on 4 legs, is it any wonder they have so many admirers?

See Glasgow’s story. The People’s Palace, located at Glasgow Green, is THE place to visit if you’re looking to get a close-up look at life in Glasgow through the ages. Using its collection of historical artefacts and a variety of mediums, the People’s Palace shares an insight into the city and its many residents from 1750 to the end of the 20th Century.

There are many other free activities and attractions in Glasgow, but these are (in my opinion!) some of the best ones to get a real flavour of what this vibrant and exciting city is all about without spending a single penny. If you’re joining us for the first time, you might just fall a little bit in love with this place, and if you’ve lived here forever, maybe you’ll discover something new about your neighbourhood.

I hope this little round-up of free things to do in Glasgow inspires you to get out and about, and let me know what you get up to if you decide to do any of them!

Love,

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