Cultural extravaganza to celebrate Glasgow 2014

MORE than 10,000 people are expected to flock to huge Commonwealth Games parties in different parts of Glasgow as part of the vast cultural festival being held to coincide with the sporting extravaganza.

Baton-bearer Denise Holmes and a Scottish Ballet dance. Picture: PA

Lulu, Eddi Reader, Nina Nesbitt, James Grant and Belle and Sebastian are among the leading Scottish acts performing at three major public events across the city tonight).

Visiting singers and musicians from Australia and New Zealand will also be taking centre stage in the special “celebratory events”, which will get under way from late afternoon.

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Revellers heading to Glasgow Green, Kelvingrove Bandstand or the Old Fruitmarket tonight will be able to watch live footage from the opening ceremony at Celtic Park.

The 8,000-capacity event at Glasgow Green, which the veteran singer Lulu is headlining, is also acting as a fundraising event for global children’s charity Unicef.

Also in the line-up are former Scottish Album of the Year winner RM Hubbert, singer- songwriter Emma Pollock, and Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire, the Glasgow band who recently had a week-long residence on Craig Ferguson’s US chat show.

Belle and Sebastian, the iconic Glasgow indie band, will tonight be appearing before an expected 2,500-strong crowd at the bandstand, the celebrated landmark which they helped rescue by backing a high-profile campaign to secure its future.

The Old Fruitmarket’s party, which will run until 3am, will feature a major new cross-cultural project, Boomerang, which will star traditional musicians from Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. It is heading to Glasgow after a major showcase at the Hebridean Celtic Festival last week.

Both Glasgow Green and Kelvingrove Bandstand are staging major programmes of free events over the next ten days before hosting all-ticket finale concerts on Sunday, 3 August.

Their line-ups during the Games include appearances from the likes of Lloyd Cole, Edwyn Collins, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, King Creosote, as well as The Mahotella Queens, from South Africa, Nigeria’s Ibibio Sound Machine and Malawi’s Mafilika.

The Scotsman was yesterday given a sneak preview of the Glasgow Green “live zone”, which has been transformed into a huge open-air house party arena, complete with a kitchen boasting food and drink stalls, a living room where live acts will perform, a back garden where the crowds can try out sports activities, and a “wee house” for youngsters.

James Doherty, of Glasgow Life, which is staging the city-wide festival along with Glasgow 2014 and arts agency Creative Scotland, said it will have an overall capacity of 25,000 during the Games.

He added: “One of the key things we learned from London 2012 was that they didn’t really have any TV screens to watch the sport at their live zones, so we’ve installed a giant screen so people can watch the action all day.

“We really wanted the live zone to showcase the very best the city has to offer and showcase our great events like the Glasgow Jazz Festival, the Mela and Celtic Connections.”

Meanwhile the Old Fruitmarket, in Glasgow’s historic Merchant City, will also be playing host to the official late-night after-party for the Games, which run until Sunday, 3 August.

The same venue – which will be open daily to the public – hosted the official celebration party when Glasgow secured the Games almost seven years ago.

Leading Scottish bands booked to appear at the club, which the Celtic Connections festival is helping to programme, include the Treacherous Orchestra, Salsa Celtica, the Peatbog Faeries and Manran, while organisers say Team Scotland athletes will also be making appearances as guest DJs.

Other highlights of the cultural programme being staged across Glasgow include a classical music marathon fronted by violinist Nicola Benedetti, the premiere of a new opera which author Alexander McCall Smith has helped create, a spoof news programme – which will see part of The Arches nightspot converted into a TV studio – and a night-time nautical spectacular, featuring aerial dance, live music and pyrotechnics, to be staged next to the Glasgow Science Centre.

More than 1,000 performances are being staged in around 100 venues as part of the Festival 2014 programme, which is billed as Glasgow’s biggest ever celebration of culture.

Thousands of revellers are expected to flock to a “pop-up” BBC studio next to its Pacific Quay headquarters, where a host of acts are giving one-off performances to mark the staging of the Games, including celebrated Scottish bands Wet Wet Wet, Texas and Simple Minds.

Janet Archer, Creative Scotland’s chief executive, said: “The energy and imagination of some of Scotland and the Commonwealth’s most exciting creative talent will fill the venues, parks, streets, and even the skyline of Glasgow. Their work will dazzle, illuminate and delight.

“It will also provide moments for contemplation among the buzz of the city, and for reflection and consideration of important questions around sport and the Commonwealth.

“Above all though, their work will be part of an amazing celebration.”