It’s back … West End Festival returns with free outdoor events

West End Festival / 2021
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

A mainstay of the Glasgow calendar is back for the first time in more than two years.

The West End Festival (WEF) returns from Saturday September 11 to Sunday September 26.

Delayed because of Covid, the new programme is leaner and lighter than previous years.

But organisers promise plenty of activities for families and music lovers – and all the events are free.

This year is extra special as the festival marks its 25th anniversary.

Events director Michael Dale said he was happy that events were finally able to get under way.

“WEF started in 1996 and was last staged in 2019. 

“We would have liked to have been able to announce a full programme but the pandemic has put paid to that, of course,” said Michael.   

Highlights

“As there is no possibility of our regular participants mounting indoor concerts and shows, we have a number of outdoor events at our core venues such as Vinicombe Street and the piazza in front of the Kelvingrove Art Galleries.  

“And we are also mounting two days of music at the Kelvingrove Bandstand.  All of these events are free!” 

Highlights include an afternoon of traditional music curated by fiddler Chris Stout at the Kelvingrove Bandstand, and a Sunday afternoon concert by The Cooperation brass band.  

Special anniversary year

Two family gala days at Vinicombe street (Sept 11 and 18) are expected to draw the crowds.

And the ever-popular Scottish Folk Music Outdoor Ceilidh returns to the piazza at Kelvingrove art gallery (Sept 12).

‘SambaYaBamba and Friends’ percussion extravaganza is also at the art galleries (Sept 19).  

For Michael, this year’s festival will be his last, having started the event on his own initiative and with his own money back in 1996.  

In its heyday, WEF was the most popular community event in the city. 

The famous Midsummer Parade would attract tens of thousands to Byres Road and Kelvingrove Park.

In 2004, the landmark Belle and Sebastian free concert in drew 15,000 people to the Botanic Gardens.  

‘As there is no possibility of our regular participants mounting indoor concerts and shows, we have a number of outdoor events at our core venues such as Vinicombe Street and the piazza in front of the Kelvingrove Art Galleries’  

Michael Dale

WEF also gave life to several important events such as the Bard in the Botanics, the Gibson Street Gala, the Cottier Chamber Project and the Mansfield Park farmers’ markets.  

While WEF’s regular grant from Glasgow City Council ended earlier in 2021,  special one-off funding has been secured this year.

Money has come the National Lottery Community Fund, the Council’s Area Partnerships and another slice of Creative Scotland money from the Cultural Organisations  & Venues Recovery Fund.    

Michael said: “As a result, we are able to mount a decent programme with something for all, and we are grateful to these funders for their support in this special year for WEF.” 

Other events are an extensive children’s author programme in the local schools, supported by the Council’s Area Partnerships and the Scottish Book Trust. 

Teresa Lowe is the Festival’s author and literature programmer.

All outdoor events are free. Photo: Max Crawford Photography

She said: “We have placed dozens of excellent authors in the local schools over a number of years, and I’m delighted that we will have another strong programme in collaboration with the Children’s Wood and the Hunterian Museum as well as with a number of local schools.” 

In addition, the regular Paintings on Railings will take place each weekend in September at the Botanic Gardens where artists can display and sell their work.  


From our Twitter page