25 things you won’t know about Glasgow unless you’ve lived there

Forget the guide books and stereotypes… Harris Brine presents 25 things you won’t know about Glasgow unless you’ve spent some time there.

You can go to a roller disco

roller disco

Dig the flares out, because roller disco is back. For anyone who wasn’t born before 1970, this is when human beings attach wheels to their feet and go around in circles for hours to funky music. Sound nuts? It is. (website)

You can walk around a chocolate factory (without a golden ticket)


Unlike Wonka’s, the No. 1 Chocolate Factory is open to the public seven days a week, with parties for little kids (and ahem, big kids) available too. There’s even hand-made treats by chocolatiers to make you go home feeling like Augustus Gloop. (website)

You can see stand-up comedy for only £2

Frankie Boyle

The Stand is the perfect way to wake up with aching sides after laughing far too hard. Long-standing weekly night Red Raw (Tuesdays) is a mere £2, so get down early to snap up one of the limited tickets. (website)

You can pay homage to The Dude

big lebowski

Outrageously delicious burgers, a laid-back atmosphere and no less than 26 types of the Dude’s famous White Russian await you at Lebowski’s – even the most staunch of nihilists would find meaning to come here. (Tip: leave the dressing gown at home) (website)

You can watch classic silent movies

laurel hardy

The Britannia Panopticon is the world’s oldest music hall (founded 1857) and it hasn’t lost any of its charm, regularly screening classics such as Metropolis (1927) and Nosferatu (1922). Celebrate the venue which hosted Stan Laurel’s 1906 debut by watching classic Laurel and Hardy films. (Tip: bring a jacket) (website)

You can sift through mountains of books


There are few bookshops like Voltaire and Rousseau. No bigger than a living room, yet with enough books to rival a small library, browsing through the mountainous selection is an experience in itself. No genre is left unturned – if you can find it. (Tip: bring a packed-lunch) (website)

You can play ping-pong and Super Nintendo while you drink


Vintage fairs, Super Mario, ping-pong, sewing clubs, bingo; it all sound like a cheese-fuelled dream, doesn’t it? But at Hillhead Bookclub you won’t need a large amount of brie to experience all this (although you will need a bit of cheddar). An open-minded, open-plan joy of a haunt. (website)

You can rifle through bric-a-brac (or sweeties)


While the Barrowlands takes most of the credit, every Saturday/Sunday The Barras is a swarming market soused in Glaswegian personality. With more characters than a Broons back catalogue, its no-frills trade shops are bound to have you thrilled. (website)

You can try one of 350 different whiskys

whisky old man

Few other places can compete with the sheer range of whiskeys at Bon Accord, an old-school pub in Charing Cross, which also hosts tasting clubs and live folk music. There’s an incredible 350 malts to choose. On World Whisky Day (Sat 17 May), treat yourself to a 43 year old, £160 a nip, tipple. (website)

You can listen to old-school jazz every Sunday


If you think Louis Armstrong was the first man on the moon, this might not be for you. But The 78 is the best place in Glasgow to get educated in jazz, with an established resident trio playing from 9pm every Sunday night. (website)

You can visit the bones of St Valentine

valentine bones

In 1868 a small wooden box labeled Corpus Valentini Martyris was dropped off at the Gorbals. Turns out it contained ‘the body of St Valentine’, the man responsible for keeping card and flower businesses blooming. It now sits at Blessed St John Duns Scotus church. (website)

You can read an ancient tome (or just a very large one)

mitchell library

Want to trace your family history or source ancient Scottish scripts over a cuppa? Want to go see a gig? The Mitchell Library can cater for all these, and more. With over a million items to choose and a great theatre, the Mitchell Library is one of the most tranquil ways to dip out of the 21st century. (website)

You can walk around in a 330 million year old forest

jurassic park

You’re a few 200 million years short of recreating Walking With Dinosaurs, but the humble Fossil Grove in Victoria Park is home to fossilized plants, which formed long before the dinosaurs started munching everything in sight. You don’t need a plane to visit this Jurassic Park. City centre buses go to nearby Dumbarton Road. Who’d have thought it? (website)

You can have a party in a flat that’s not yours


With décor from the ’70s and with DJs with a “penchant for every decade”, Flat 0/1 on Bath Street has a double-bed and half a bathtub for you to lounge on. Out of old domestic fridges the bar staff serve MD 20/20, Lambrini, and Frosty Jacks. (website)

You can take part in a zombie apocalypse

Get in early practice for when the real zombie influx sweeps the cities of Britain (every Monday at 8am), by taking part in 2.8 Hours Later. You’re given a map, have to traverse across the city quarantine to your first location. If you get caught, you yourself turn into one of the undead. Again. (website)

You can drink in the bar where Belle & Sebastian met

With potent cask ales, the horseshoe-shaped watering hole that is the Halt Bar proved to be lucky for Stevie Jackson and Stuart Murdoch, who first played here in 1996. It’s on Woodlands Road, which is handy for any inebriated souls staggering back to either the city-centre or the West End.

You can taste beer made from Christmas trees


Alloa brewers Williams Brothers have a ridiculous (and inventive) selection of beers and ales on offer at their West End cavern, Inn Deep, which runs parallel to the River Kelvin. It also has picturesque outdoor seating, a mouth-watering menu, and Nollaig, a 7% tipple with ingredients derived from Christmas spruce. (website)

You can feast on A Play, A Pie and a Pint

The converted church that is Oran Mor offers the chance to ogle the work of some of Scotland’s best known playwrights with yep, you guessed it, a delicious pie. Each day you can wet one’s whistle with a pint too, but just make you don’t blow it when the curtains go up. (website)

You can visit a city-centre Lighthouse

lighthouse glasgow

Though the River Clyde is not far away, there’s no danger of boats needing to swerve this lighthouse. It’s on Mitchell Lane, in a building commissioned for one Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Architecture and art installations are topped off with an astounding view of the city from its open-top apex. (website)

You can ride the Clockwork Orange

glasgow subway

Coined in the 70s, the Clockwork Orange is the nickname for Glasgow’s Subway, and is also the transport for those partaking in the Subcrawl. The Feat? Buy a day pass, get off at each stop on its cyclical route (15 in total) and have a drink. The achievement? A hangover the size of Jupiter. Check out the Subway challenge too, for clock-related dares. (website)

You should stay at home on Old Firm days


One of the most potent sporting rivalries in the world, things can get a bit hairy when they play (which isn’t as often as it used to be, given Rangers’ current league position). With a good chance that one side of the city will lose, Saturday nights can look a little bit like the food fight in the film Hook, only the imaginary grub being thrown is actually punches and bottles.

You can’t leave the Duke of Wellington statue without a cone on top


Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, put his life on the line to defeat the formidable-in-all-but-height emperor Napoleon, and then became Prime Minister. Twice. In Glasgow’s he’s most famous for having a cone on his head, one which the council recently had to do a dramatic U-turn on after the public objected to its removal.

You shouldn’t try a U-turn in the city centre


If you’re one wrong turn away from having a mental meltdown, you should probably take the bus than bring the car into Glasgow. Anyone who’s braved it knows it’s like travelling through a labyrinth House of Mirrors, only you’re doing it in a thin metal box that goes at 40mph.

You might see the ‘Glasgow Raver’

A neon-adorned grown-man raving in the middle of a busy high-street to silence does turn heads, but no one knew why Leo Mushet decided to go all 1994 until someone asked him. Turns out his bizarre act is one of kindness; he donates the money he receives to leukaemia research, in homage of his late sister. (Facebook page)

You can eat a week’s worth of calories at Buddys


Located in Shawlands, we feel sorry for anyone living within 100 metres of Buddy’s. Not only will they have to put up with endless queues, but they’ll have to resist the daily temptation not to splurge their week’s wages on heaps of tantalising slow-cooked BBQ glazed ribs. (Facebook page)

Like this? Try this:

An introduction to the Glasgow music scene
10 of the best bars in Glasgow
Glasgow Restaurants Guide – read the reviews, book tables

What other pearls of Glasgow wisdom have we missed?

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