THE season of the lanyard appeared to have arrived early as I walked through Glasgow’s Queen Street Station. There was no mistaking the Glasgow 2014 branding on the staff busy handling enquiries from passengers in the middle of the packed concourse. There will be no escaping these lanyards in Glasgow over the next few weeks.
And the city is also about to get a tantalising taste of the intoxicating atmosphere that envelops its arch-rival to the east every summer, with its own sprawling arts festival.
To its great credit, Glasgow has been long plotting its biggest ever cultural celebration to coincide with the Commonwealth Games, with dozens of free and ticketed events at some of the city’s landmarks and public spaces.
With George Square gleaming in the bright sunshine, it felt like Glasgow 2014 was almost upon the city at last. And in just over a week’s time, when the action will finally get under way, it will be teeming with people, excitement, action and colour like never before.
The people of Edinburgh are now pretty stoic about the whole festival experience each summer. Many embrace it whole-heartedly – buying the vast majority of tickets – while others simply flock to the pop-up outdoor cafes and bars. Some merrily flee the city but happily let out their homes.
Is Glasgow ready for such a huge influx of people and a one-off explosion of events?
The “Festival 2014” programme, mapping out arts and cultural events during the Glasgow games, is a fairly daunting tome, but it is also bursting with exciting and intriguing events. While there are certainly an awful lot of them spread across the city, including some tricky schedule clashes, there genuinely appears be something to suit most tastes.
Belle & Sebastian’s opening ceremony party at the reopened Kelvingrove bandstand, the “Glasgow Mix Tape” gig which will see the likes of Lloyd Cole, Edwyn Collins & The Bluebells stage a free gig on Glasgow Green, a one-day summer version of Celtic Connections, rooftop street theatre spectacle Perch, and Sound to Sea – a music, dance and fireworks extravaganza which will unfold next to the Glasgow Science Centre – are obvious headline-grabbing attractions.
Other mouth-watering prospects include The Tin Forest, the National Theatre of Scotland project bringing a run-down rotunda building on the waterfront back to life, the special Scottish Opera commission Alexander McCall Smith has worked on, a classical music marathon led by Nicola Benedetti and spoof TV news play News Just In.
The festivities get under way at Kelvingrove this Friday with a special celebration of South African culture to mark Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy.