Gay Glasgow: City of legends

Scotland is more than just kilts, castles, and cashmere. Full of Celtic history, Glasgow was a gem of British culture in the 1800s, but was bogged down in industrial mire for much of the 20th century. The past thirty years have seen Glasgow, much like Cardiff, shaking off the soot with a stunning revitalization of its historical beauty and dynamic art and music scene. Now recognized for its dramatic architecture and warm, witty people, Glasgow's club scene and shopping districts are recognized as among the UK's most vibrant outside London.

Situated on the River Clyde, Glasgow's grid layout and compact City Centre make it easy to get around. Driving or walking down the river is a great way to get familiar with Glasgow. You'll find most of Glasgow's cultural venues and shopping centers in the City Centre. Retail therapy is citywide pastime in Glasgow, and people from all over the UK come to Glasgow for designer fashions. Buchanan, Argyle and Sauchiehall Streets make up the main shopping thoroughfares and are packed with designer labels and high fashion retailers. Much of Glasgow's shopping takes place in covered arcades, many of which are lovely to look at themselves.

The chic Merchant City, in the eastern part of the central part of town, is home to almost all of the gay clubs and bars, as well as independent art galleries and cafes. Glasgow's gay scene revolves around the hip bars and cafes of this cosmopolitan area. Virginia Street and John Street are loaded with trendy, gay friendly pubs, as are many other streets in this area. Fashionable shops and funky art galleries add an edgy, hip feel to the scene. Gay Glasgewians tend to be friendly and unpretentious, and the nightlife scene reflects this laid-back attitude.

In Glasgow's West End, charming cobblestone streets such as Ashton Lane and Byres Road are filled with trendy cafes, stylish shops and some of the areas best dining. Home to a variety of boutique stores and vintage shops, this is where to find something vintage or uniquely Scottish. Kelvingrove Park, at the heart of the West End, is a popular picnicking locale, frequently inhabited by students from neighboring Glasgow University.

Look up while in Glasgow: the architecture is spectacular, with spires, cherubs and gods rising out of the crevices and rooftops. Victorian and Edwardian structures are everywhere, as are lovely examples of art deco and nouveau. Charles Rennie Mackintosh is the designer/architect responsible for many examples of art nouveau design this city has to offer; pick up free passes and maps of his work at the Glasgow School of Art. Other architecture wonders are the Glasgow Cathedral, a medieval Gothic building, the impressive City Chambers, an imposing building from the 1880's, and the Holmwood House, designed by Alexander "Greek" Thomson, another famous Glasgewian architect. In addition Glasgow boasts many free museums and galleries.

Making its mark in the architecture world in the 1800's, now Glasgow is doing the same to the music world. There is a huge scene here, with dozens of events every week ranging from Celtic music to rock concerts to opera. Bands such as queer faves Belle & Sebastian, Oasis and Franz Ferdinand have boosted Glasgow's reputation for indie music in the past several years. There are plenty of live music venues throughout the city, from small, hip clubs to huge venues like The Arches.

Glasgewians have a reputation for being friendly, daring and given to dark humor. They tend to be willing to help out a traveler in need, offering directions to visitors sporting bewildered looks. Like the city itself, they have a unique sense of style that is bound to leave an effect on any visitor. Glasgow is a place of history and modernity. Whether you're in Glasgow to explore the fashions, music, art or history--and the gay life integrated into all of it--it is sure to conjure the ghosts & legends of lore.

Restaurants to check out