Culture & Entertainment

Travel Scoop: Glasgow at Christmas

By: Doug O'Neill
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Travel Scoop: Glasgow at Christmas

By: Doug O'Neill
Get your holiday glow on in Glasgow! I've learned to be careful when I tell people about the spring afternoon when I got thoroughly soused in Glasgow. The habitual reply: "Great pubs, eh? Good on ya."  That's not exactly what I mean – though I did visit a couple of century-old public houses in the name of research. The truth is, there was a light drizzle as I darted from pub to tea house to art gallery back to pub and then to coffee house. At the end of the day I was a wee bit drenched.  Mind you, that's not to suggest it's always raining in Glasgow. Far from it.  I've toured the Scottish city in the midst of summer and it was all shorts and Ts. A great city in spring and summer, for sure. To discover Glasgow during Christmas, I turn to Caroline Newson Lennox, who handles Canadian PR for Glasgow City Marketing Bureau. Canadian by birth, Caroline spent most of her formative years growing up in Scotland and has celebrated Christmas on both sides of the pond. "I spent my student years and early career in Glasgow before a ten-year stint working in Toronto. Now I have returned to this vibrant city some twenty years later – with two little Canadians of my own in tow."   #1. The thing I love best about Christmas in Glasgow:  It's such a friendly city all year round but during the festive season there is such a great buzz in the all of the shops, bars and restaurants. Everyone has a smile and a joke to share. Weigie (slang for Glasweigans) patter is second to none. #2. Our family's favourite Christmas Eve tradition is  going to see a traditional Christmas pantomime, an evening of theatrical slapstick comedy with lively and expected audience participation.  Glasgow  has always enjoyed a strong tradition of theatre-going and the city is home to the National Theatre of Scotland, as well as the Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera companies. This Christmas Eve we are making plans to see 'Aladdin' at the Kings Theatre. #3. The one Glasgow tradition that seems to surprise people… are the incredible options for afternoon tea. As a self-confessed cake and dessert fan (there isn’t a pastry out there I haven’t fallen in love with on first bite), I’m spoiled for choice. From the Art Nouveau elegance of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Willow Tearooms on Buchanan Street to the more contemporary pink-and-black boudoir style décor of Once Upon A Tart in the Trongate, there are numerous tearooms all over the city to suit all tastes. #4. The one photo op you MUST NOT miss in Glasgow during the holidays: With my two high-energy tomboy princesses, Maeve and Erin (7 and 9), in tow, I’m always looking for fun, entertaining and active events during the Christmas holidays. For the past couple of years we have headed over to the city’s George Square to skate on the outdoor rink, under the wintry skies with all of the Christmas lights twinkling around you. It's the perfect backdrop for our festive family photograph. #5. My favourite spots for New Year's Eve drinks with friends... To start the New Year’s Eve celebrations on the right note, my friends and I head for an early evening cocktail at 5 star Blythswood Square Hotel, which is situated in the grand splendor of the old Royal Scottish Automobile Club which serves (arguably) the most delicious gin cocktails in the city. As the evening progresses, our party heads to Guys in the Merchant City for dinner. Restaurant owner (and true Glasgweigan character) Guy spent twenty years in the film industry catering to the stars before setting up his own eatery. As the bells of midnight approach we celebrate with a glass of fizz at the rooftop bar of 29 Royal Exchange Square. #6. If you love shopping, then you will love Glasgow. With the biggest retail footprint outside of London, the pedestrian-friendly ‘ Style Mile’ in and around Buchanan Street has all of my favourite UK high street stores from Monsoon to Marks and Spencer. To the west of the city, around Byres Road and Hillhead underground station, you will find a mix of independent boutiques and vintage treasure stores. #7. One of the events I'm most looking forward to after winter is over will be the Commonwealth Games, which Glasgow will host for 10 days starting July 23. And that's Christmas in Glasgow. Wold you be up for it?  
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Travel Scoop: Glasgow at Christmas

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