Fete accomplis - The West End Festival
Summer Festivals Special
Kirstin Innes heralds Glasgow’s annual celebration of community and culture in the city that is the West End Festival
The West End Festival, which has been going since 1996, is a community festival in the proper sense of the word, running free workshops and concerts, hosting events that involve local businesses and generally inviting residents to celebrate the various parks, bars, creative outlets, foodie havens, social lives and gosh-darned prettiness of the area commonly known as Glasgow Trendy West End™.
The high point of the festival is usually ‘Scotland’s Mardi Gras’ (even though it doesn’t happen on a Tuesday), a gigantic parade down Byres Road. However, they’re doing things a bit differently this year, relocating the whole party to Kelvingrove Park for Festival Sunday, and filling it with colour and music, as well as food and drink stalls, face-painting, floats, live gigs and probably the odd local celebrity. The party keeps going, in one form or another, for a whole two weeks after that.
The event incorporates Fête de la Musique, a day of free concerts which originated in France and is now held in over 100 countries on 21 June every year. Look out for string quartets, jazz bands, local indie bands (that’ll be half the population of the West End, then) and even a full choir positioned in and around the Ashton Lane bars from lunchtime till late.
Really, though, the West End Festival is about celebrating a community, and one that has evolved its own distinctive outlook and cultural mores. This means that the huge, teeming population of (rather well-known) artists, musicians, DJs and writers who have made this leafy quarter their home will be performing, exhibiting and playing wherever they can find space, while independent shops run fashion shows on pavements, multicultural restaurants open their doors to tasting sessions and local historians guide tours round the hidden gems of the various neighbourhoods. 500 events happening in two weeks, in an area already bursting with life. And most of them are free. And you don’t need a tent. One of the best fests all year.
West End Festival, Sun 14 Jun.