Parties in the parks as Games fever sweeps Glasgow

THOUSANDS flocked to one of Glasgow’s biggest parks for a huge open-air celebration to herald the start of the Commonwealth Games.

John Barrowman kicks off the Opening Ceremony at Celtic Park. Picture: PA

Glasgow Green hosted the city’s biggest garden party, on a vast site next to the People’s Palace that has been transformed into the biggest “live zone” of the Games.

An estimated crowd of 12,000 basked in the sunshine ahead of a live broadcast of the opening ceremony from Celtic Park.

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The city also hosted two other major events to allow people to share the celebrations of the Games getting under way, with indie icons Belle and Sebastian performing at the refurbished Kelvingrove Bandstand and visiting musicians from Australia and New Zealand taking to the stage in the Old Fruitmarket in the Merchant City.

John Barrowman kicks off the Opening Ceremony at Celtic Park. Picture: PA

The seven-hour Glasgow Green party was headlined by veteran Glasgow singer Lulu, in a rare homecoming gig, and she was given a standing ovation when she took to the stage an hour before the ceremony kicked off and ended with her classic hit, Shout.

The 65-year-old told the audience: “What a day. Isn’t this fantastic? I meant to say there’s nowhere better than Glasgow, but there’s nowhere better than Glasgow when the sun is shining, right?”

The event, which featured a Mother Glasgow showcase of the city’s musical talents and songwriting heritage, also featured Eddi Reader, Nina Nesbitt, Emma Pollock and Rab Noakes.

The park is expected to be the focal point for public celebrations during the Games, with major sporting events arriving there and dozens of live acts due to perform during the Games, which run until 3 August.

Among those relaxing in the park was Glasgow libraries assistant Catherine Wood, 58, from Hillington in Glasgow.

She told The Scotsman: “A lot of people have given so much time and effort to bring the whole thing together and we should be letting the whole world see what kind of place Glasgow is and how friendly the people are.”

Ferdinand Mbuwamgu, 26, who is studying computer programming at Clydebank College, has been living in the city for the last five years, but is from Burundi, in East Africa.

He said: “It’s been a long time since Glasgow hosted anything like this and it’s great to see so many people from different countries around the world arriving in the city.”

Earlier, crowds had thronged George Square, the heart of the city, to collect tickets for the opening ceremony, snap up merchandise in the official superstore – and simply lap up the party atmosphere.

Hundreds queued patiently to have their photograph taken inside The Big G, the colourful 18 foot tall logo based on the Glasgow 2014 logo.

Elsewhere, pavement cafes were packed with sun-seekers, where crowds were also entertained by buskers.

Eddy Tay, 37, who is in Glasgow to support the Singapore table tennis team, said: “Everybody seems to be in a real party mood in Glasgow today – they all seem to be excited about the Games. I’ve been here for a few days in the city and it feels like no-one is working this week.”

Many of those who descended on George Square were taking advantage of the unexpected late availability of tickets, including the opening ceremony.

Julia James, 58, from Hampshire, said: “We booked a few months ago and got tickets for the hockey and the badminton.

“We’ve been here for a few days and thought we’d try at the last minute to get opening ceremony tickets and were pretty surprised they were still available today.”