Coolest City in the UK
"The cleanest and most beautifulest and best built cities."
Daniel Defoe, early 18th century
"God, Glasgow it's glorious
just to gulp you down in heartfuls
feeling something quite like love" Donny O'Rourke 2001
Artistic, brash, classical, dynamic, exuberant - it's difficult to define Glasgow today. Think Manhattan with a Scottish accent, brimming with fine architecture and the best shopping and restaurants outside London. Home to Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, music and theatre companies, this is a cultural city 52 weeks of the year and, with world-class attractions and conferences, it's a top European destination for leisure and business. In recognition of its cosmopolitan appeal, National Geographic magazine recently declared that Glasgow is the "coolest city in the UK".
Glasgow may be `cool` in a different sense over the winter months but over Christmas and New Year is a wonderful time to visit. The magnificent George Square is sparkling with glittering lights and with a backdrop of the City Chambers, this is where the largest outdoor ice rink in Europe is created for some healthy festive fun for all the family. After a twirl on the ice, warm up with a drink at the rink side café - so get your skates on and enjoy Glasgow on Ice.
The whole city centre will be beautifully decorated and in lively mood for Christmas with wide pedestrianised precincts along Sauchiehall and Buchanan Streets as well as indoor malls Princes Square and Buchanan Galleries, perfect for all that shopping. Make time to indulge in some serious designer shopping around the Merchant City with the Italian Centre housing Versace, (the first Versace store to open in the UK) Gucci and Armani, as well as the new flagship Escada and the ultimate place to browse for cutting edge fashion - Cruise.
Visitors will also find arts, music and culture to suit every taste and over the festive season there's a feast of magical shows - Scottish Ballet performing The Nutcracker, while the pantomimes include Sleeping Beauty at the King's Theatre and Snow White at the Citizens theatre. Alternatively, there is Scottish Opera's production of Verdi's epic Aida and Mozart's delightful The Magic Flute. Shakespeare's comedy, Twelfth Night is being performed by Dundee Rep and for music lovers the Glasgow Concert Hall has a wide programme of concerts including Handle's Messiah, a Viennese Gala night and popular Scottish folk duo, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham.
Festivals of Light is a special series of free outdoor events taking place in December at the Hidden Gardens at the Tramway. These are inspired by different winter celebrations for Diwali, Eid al-Fitr and Christmas and will feature decorated lanterns, colourful lights, traditional music, dancing, food and drink to create a magical and wintry atmosphere.
If you are in Glasgow for New Year, then you could be part of a huge outdoor Hogmanay party. The festivities on George Square get under way on December 31st from 9.30pm as the countdown to 2004 begins. Music from traditional pipers to top bands will entertain the crowds as well as a ceilidh for all to join in. The cost is just £5 for 2 party passes - information from www.glasgowshogmanay.org.uk
If you've never visited before, or not for some years, it's time to take another look. Urban regeneration has restored Victorian red stone buildings, tobacco warehouses transformed into a modern-day Merchant City of shops, bars and bistros, while modern cutting-edge Exhibition, Conference and Science Centres now dominate the majestic River Clyde.
This is a city for art lovers, most famously renowned for its wealth of buildings designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh including his stunning Art School and elegant Willow Tearooms. Browse around The Lighthouse, a distinctive architectural and design experience and nearby the neo-classical Gallery of Modern Art which promotes innovative Scottish artists and sculptors. With the Kelvingrove closed for refurbishment, key works are on view at the McLellan galleries while the Burrell Collection of fine art at Pollok House is a `must-see`. The popular Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum may be closed for a spell for a £30 million refurbishment but the Transport Museum across the road is a treasure trove.
Eating out is an experience in Glasgow with every kind of traditional or modern Scottish, international and fusion cuisine on offer, from Cantonese to Indian, Thai to Spanish. Bars, cafes, bistros and fine dining restaurants across the city will ensure you're well fed and watered in between the shopping and culture. This is just a small sample.
Rogano romantic 1930`s art deco, speciality seafood, ideal for pre-theatre champagne & oysters.
Quigley's contemporary Scottish menu; lively club bar downstairs.
Opus European-Asian cuisine. Elegant setting and stylish cocktail bar.
The Ubiquitous Chip legendary, top-notch brasserie.
Babbity Bowster buzzing café-bar in 18th century Merchant city townhouse. Scottish/French dishes at good prices served all day.
La Parmigiana best casual restaurant award - fine Italian. Bargain at lunch - but book a table in advance.
L'Ariosto has been serving fine Italian cuisine for 30 years.
Cocktail Bars, Pubs and Clubs
By night Glasgow is a happening place with stylishly cool cocktail bars and traditional pubs and clubs:
Malmaison Hotel Parisian-style Champagne bar for any occasion, with comfortable seating, cream/brown/burgundy decor, soft jazzy soundtrack, perfect for a quiet gathering with friends or a romantic tête a tête. Classy and sophisticated.
bar one50 at Opus Plush maroon fabrics, ceiling to floor mirrors, soft lighting and Sinatra soundtrack oozes a relaxed attitude for a quiet drink, waiter-served to your suede sofa in the VIP lounge, (which can be rented for private party). Saturday afternoon, a live Swing Band; `Silly Sunday` fun with open mike and karaoke night. Open till 3am 7 nights.
Corinthian Formerly the Union Bank and High Court, this imposing A listed building houses a sprawling complex of comfortable leather sofa, stylish bars to sit for a leisurely drink including a Piano Bar, lounge bar, cocktail bar, restaurant and members club.
Metropolitan Voted in Esquire magazine as one of the top bars in the UK. Modern Cocktail bar with best "indoor /outdoor" space in the city.
The Griffin Opened a century ago beside the then "new" Kings Theatre and still retains the Edwardian style with William Morris wallpaper and glass partitioned separate public salon and lounge bar. Mixed clientele enjoying an easy laid back atmosphere with booth seating.
Scotia A true Glasgow institution, probably the city's oldest pub, with its curious black and white Tudor-style exterior. Known locally as the "art factory", the place is not just for a drink but a cultural melting pot - folk, rock `n roll and poetry readings.
Where to Stay
One Devonshire Gardens West End; utterly luxurious suites; Home to Gordon Ramsey's Amaryllis restaurant.
Radisson SAS sparkling new 5 star hotel: cool design, chic lobby bar, 2 restaurants, gym, pool, and spa.
Groucho St. Judes intimate, trendy boutique townhouse with lively bar and restaurant.
Bewleys style and comfort at good value prices, superb Loop restaurant on ground floor.
Somerset Merchant City self-catering serviced apartments - good for families
Taste of Glasgow
If you wish to take a taste of Scotland home with you, visit the Whisky Shop in Princes Square while an oasis for foodies is Heart Buchanan Deli on Byres Road for wild salmon, West coast scallops and lobster, smoked beef and cheese. This deli, created by Fiona Buchanan recently won a Spirit of Scotland award for excellence. Regular Farmers Markets around the city sell fine Scottish produce, game and venison. This is, of course, gourmet city.
Glasgow does not simply follow fashion, it creates its own
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