25 alternative pastimes to take up in Glasgow
Aerial Silks

The middle of January marks a milestone in many a new year’s resolution – and for the most part, it’s the point when we give up those grand ideas of losing weight or kicking bad habits.

But what about those positive pledges – the new things we promised ourselves we’ve get out and try in 2015?

With so much going on in a city like Glasgow, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to finding a new passion.

Here’s our top 25 of alternative pastimes to pick up this year – so get out there, try something new today and pick a hobby which makes you want to leave the couch behind.

1. Say hello to the circus

Always dreamt of running off to join the circus? While we can’t promise that Cirque de Soleil audition, there is hope in the form of aerial and acrobatics workshops. At classes run by performance groups like Spinal Chord, former couch potatoes are winding their legs around aerial silks and climbing ever higher on the skills ladder.

The Commonwealth Youth Circus proved the popularity of juggling, trapeze and the like with their involvement in Baton Relay events at Glasgow 2014, and those who give up-in-the-air twirling a go soon become obsessed with perfecting their technique.

2. Perfect your penmanship

Are your birthday cards up to scratch? Diary looking more of a scrawl than a show of penmanship? The Glasgow Scribes are here to help. The city’s resident calligraphy club meet at Glasgow Caledonian University to discuss burning issues like flourishes, Celtic knots and Roman capitals. For those with an interest in old-fashioned ink, this artistic hobby could be one to show off to friends.

3. Join a film club

From the Glasgow and Southside film festivals to much-loved haunts like the GFT and Grosvenor Cinema, the city is a little bit in love with moving pictures. It’s perhaps the reason behind Glasgow Cinema Club, a group who meet at Cineworld once a week to see films together – and of course discuss them in detail.

Over at The Old Hairdressers, there’s Matchbox Cineclub, which includes screenings and pop-up events at venues like CCA, Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, and of course, The Old Hairdressers back room (perfect for films of an eerie nature). And speaking of spine-tingling, Glasgow horror fans spend their time gearing up for All Night Horror Madness, an Edinburgh import with a dedicated following.

4. Bring sexy back, Bollywood style


Gone are the days when dance class meant a standard aerobercise, lycra and all. From belly dancing workshops to Spanish flamenco, schools like Dance Glasgow and Dance With Attitude have wised up to the call for new and exciting ways to get fit (and perhaps throw on a colourful costume at the same time).

On the up in Glasgow are Bollywood classes, scarf-twirling and all. Perhaps it’s the city’s large Asian population – or perhaps it’s the call of multicultural festival the Glasgow Mela or the West End Festival parade, where dancers of all levels are invited to don their sequins and shimmy their hips.

5. Join an ever-evolving orchestra

Glaswegians in the know are well aware of the lure of Bloc, the city centre bar/restaurant offering dirty-but-good street food and all the best kinds of booze. But even locals may not know about Blochestra, the venue’s very own, one-of-a-kind music club. This ever-increasing orchestra involves members of the public bringing their own instruments along to practices to be integrated into cover versions of everything from David Bowie to Arcade Fire. The group performs regularly across the city and in festival slots – but in describing itself as a ‘free weekly jam/learning thingymajig’, sums up the idea that it’s all a bit of musical merriment.

6. Indulge your inner foodie

Glasgow’s ever-increasing reputation for tasty food has also upped the number of people wanting to rave about it. With an ever-growing roll call of prominent bloggers and foodie types, it seems only right to bring them into the same room to swap tips. Enter Scran Salon Glasgow, the west coast contingent of the Edinburgh event, run by blogger extraordinaire Emma at Food and Drink Glasgow. The monthly meet and greet is a chance for those with a love of food to come together and break bread (or anything else on the no-doubt discerning menu).

7. Give in to a mac attack


How many foods can claim to have a club dedicated to them? In Glasgow, macaroni cheese can do just that (if it stays on the plate long enough to make any kind of claim, that is). The Scottish Macaroni Appreciation Club (SMAC to those in the know) organise regular tasting events at Sloans, creating ever more weird and wonderful combinations of mac and cheese (all day breakfast mac, anyone?). Leave health concerns at home for the night and grab a fork – this carb-heavy club is happy to have you, and the mac isn’t going to eat itself.

8. Capture an intimate moment

Ideas of artistic grandeur? Then life drawing may be your new hobby of choice. There’s no better subject than the human form, whether you’re a seasoned artiste or just an enthusiastic newbie. Set the giggles aside for regular classes at Tramway or, for a more informal setting, check out All the Young Nudes at The Flying Duck. The bar/club has hosted life drawing sessions for years now, and all experience levels are welcome, with someone there to lend a helping hand where needed. Charcoal at the ready –  your next stop might just be a gallery spot in Kelvingrove.

9. Get snap happy, without the need for filters

Forget Instagram – camera clubs have been snap happy since before it was cool. Queen’s Park Camera Club was founded in 1945, Eastwood Photographic Society in 1943 – and they’re just two of many photography clubs making beautiful pictures out of Glasgow. Experienced photographers and holiday snappers alike are welcome along to regular meetings to share ideas, develop their techniques and even enter competitions to show off all that they’ve learned. Mayfair filter? With fellow photography fans around, you won’t even need it.

10. Roll with the girls

Roller Derby 2

Those looking for a pastime with a little more punch may love a go at roller derby – the sport of choice for those with a need for speed. From Glasgow Roller Derby‘s various teams to collectives like The Deadly Divas, there are groups across the city competing with Scotland’s finest. Fancy it? It’s just a case of strapping on some skates, shoving in a mouth guard and overcoming those first wobbles – not to mention thinking up a derby name guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of opponents.

11. Make merry on the Clyde

While many will be aware of the Clyde’s significance for Glasgow, there’s something of a question mark over what to use the city’s wide-stretching river for these days. Riverside festivals have been and gone, and for some, the water’s merely a pretty picture when crossing the Kingston Bridge. But it’s not the case for everyone.

There are those who have been making sport of the Clyde for decades, from rowing clubs establishing Glasgow Green as the sport port of call doon the waater to power boat rides zipping their way past Pacific Quay. The remains of the historic shipyards are still there – but now, locals are seeing them from a new perspective, right in the surf.

12. Perfect that pakora recipe

It’s no secret that Glasgow loves a good curry. The city’s many and varied Indian restaurants battle it out with old rival Bradford every year to bring home the Curry Capital of Britain crown, each city having notched up a few wins. But how do you turn that love for all things spicy into a hobby? By perfecting your own culinary skills, according to more than one restaurant. Ashoka, Cafe India and naan pizza guru Curry Dave – they’re all inviting customers into the kitchen to try their hand at techniques which will have you rustling up chapatis in no time.

13. Knit your way through winter

The Yarn Cake knitting

Only in Glasgow’s west end would you find a café dedicated to two rather twee pastimes; knitting and cake. Scotland’s only dedicated knitting café The Yarn Cake offers fans of the twee hobby a place to meet, eat, knit and chat. There are regular classes offering tutorials to knitting novices and experts alike, monthly spinning sessions and of course plenty of yarn on sale, should you want to keep going on that winter jumper at home.

Fancy a little tipple while you stitch? The Glasgow Knit ‘n’ Stitch Group crochets, spins, eats and drinks at venues across the city, including Tramway and The Sparkle Horse. And there’s always the excellently titled Stitch ‘n’ Bitch, another regular knitting group. Grannies everywhere will be shaking in their boots once you’ve mastered the art of purl stitch.

14. Socialise with a spot of salsa

For those who know their copas from their cross holds, salsa isn’t just a dance – it’s a social tool. There are salsa classes galore across Glasgow, but in venues like Arta, in the Merchant City, it’s the salsa socials which draw latino-loving crowds. These informal dance sessions usually follow tuition at various levels, and are a chance for salsa lovers to meet and mingle, improve those moves and perhaps indulge in a cocktail or two alongside. Don’t forget those dancing shoes – this is one place where potential partners aren’t shy, and everyone is asked onto the floor at least once.

15. Finesse your French, upgrade your German or master Mandarin

We’ve all been there; holiday time rolls around and suddenly you find yourself in Berlin with little more than ja and nein at your disposal. Lots of people long to learn a new language, if only for showing off credits around native speakers. Finding the time, however, is another issue – but what if you could incorporate it into something fun? Francophones may appreciate the Alliance Française de Glasgow‘s courses, taught by native speakers and complemented by cultural events like Ciné-Club and wine tastings.

The same goes for German learners at the Goethe-Institut, which provides a stage for the German arts scene in Scotland. Looking for something more exotic? Glasgow University’s Confucius Institute offers classes in Mandarin, with cultural events thrown in to give learners a well-rounded experience of the Chinese language. Better start planning your next trip – and throw away the phrase books now.

16. Embrace high fashion with a conscience

Rags to Riches Upcycling

Upcycling may seem too technical a term for true artistry – but the ladies at Rags to Riches might beg to differ. The group resident to Govanhill Baths have been turning old junk into new and beautiful clothes and furnishings for years, in part to raise money for the baths trust, to reinstate the Edwardian swimming pool.

This club is open to anyone with a passion for fashion and an environmentally-friendly mindset. Imagine dresses made entirely of bottle-tops, kimonos fashioned out of newspaper and you’re halfway there – the next step is to come up with your own winning design for the This Is Not a Fashion Show showcase.

17. Learn the art of seduction

Slip on those seamed stockings – and then learn to slip them off again at burlesque classes. This is one pastime that’s almost exclusively female-led (although there are prominent boylesque performers in Glasgow, so don’t let it put you off guys). From confidence-boosting beginners workshops to more advanced tease techniques, classes at Dance House or Show Girl Sessions are the perfect way to embrace an alter-ego and bump and grind with the best of them.

Looking to up the exercise quota while keeping a sexy vibe? Then why not brave pole classes – an ever-popular fitness trend with just a touch of added raunch. Pole-goers have muscles to die for, and they know how to work them – a hobby for the body and the mind, then, and the stripping is strictly optional.

18. Jump around

Climbing the walls out of sheer boredom? Then why not do it for fun? Free runners are always making waves on the YouTube front, and Glasgow Parkour can show you how to scale those heights (literally). Their regular classes promise to improve core strength and fitness, balance, co-ordination, risk assessment and mental discipline, all without stepping foot in a boring indoor gym.

Ladies thinking of taking up the sport are blessed with a women only class, and the chance to join the Glasgow Parkour Girls. And if classes on the concept are just a little too rigid for you, there’s always the regular jam events where the running is, well, even more free.

19. Belt out a tune

Cast aside any ideas that choral singing is all hymns and hokey harmonies, because there’s more to this hobby than church groups. The nationwide Rock Choir has two successful groups in Glasgow, rehearsing in Knightswood and Giffnock. Weekly sessions involve well-known tunes and the emphasis is on feel-good performances – although the choirs do often use their shows to raise money for charity too.

Stepping the cool factor up a notch is The Arches Community Choir, a get-together group which has performed at T in the Park and Glasgow City Chambers, not to mention belting out a few songs at the iconic venue itself. Blur to Yeah Yeah Yeahs, their songbook reads like a great night on the dancefloor – but with the added fun factor of taking to the stage yourself.

20. Reach for the sky

Over 50,000 people have joined the Glasgow Climbing Centre to date – perhaps proving that Glaswegians have a collective head for heights. A former church building, the centre makes good use of high ceilings to introduce newbies to the challenges of indoor climbing, as well as offering experienced climbers training facilities to keep their hand (and foot) in.

Taster sessions with tuition are available should you be interested in making it to the top and, with the climbing centre organising regular one-off events on a larger scale, who knows? You might be tackling the Titan Crane one of these days.

21. Aim for the Bake Off tent


Cakes are everywhere these days – and everyone’s having a go with the flour. From humble cupcakes to towering showstoppers, even the wariest home cook has fired up the oven and attempted to create some sweet delight. Still, there are some of us who just can’t master the sorcery required to get those damn cakes to rise. Enter the many and sundry cake classes across Glasgow.

Whether you’re after a fail-safe sponge or advanced icing techniques, cake making and decorating courses have grown in popularity to the point that colleges like Glasgow Clyde and Glasgow City offer night classes on them. The best part? At the end of every lesson is a guaranteed snack for the way home – and that’s a win win skill to develop, if you ask us.

22. Act up on your way to the stage

If acting is a craft then there are few better places to learn than Glasgow’s beloved theatres. The Citizens Theatre learning strand includes Nightschool, an informal introduction to acting for adults, taught by professional thespians with a wealth of stage experience. The Tron follows suit with its adult drama company – a group who come together to develop their skills on the boards and create their own works to perform to an audience.

Add in Act Up! acting classes courtesy of Estrada Creative Arts on a Saturday afternoon at Room at the Top and there are plenty of opportunities to speak up and learn your lines before approaching one of the city’s many am dram groups – Meryl Streep, watch your back.

23. Become a Broadway baby

Glasgow Music Theatre How to Succeed
Glasgow Music Theatre

From Little Shop of Horrors to Flashdance (coming up at Eastwood Park Theatre next week), there’s one Glasgow am dram group which seems to have tackled every facet of musical theatre. Glasgow Music Theatre have something of a reputation for professional shows, just without the professionals – and they’re always on the lookout for new members.

There’s something for every talent in here, whether you’re an actor to rival Laurence Olivier, a sensational singer or a great dancer – in fact, GMT are associated with west end studio Dance Glasgow, and use the studios to rehearse throughout the year. This group may be your ticket to stardom – or at least, a fulfilling hobby in the spotlight.

24. Build your own fleet

Do you have a steady hand and an eye for detail? Perhaps an interest in the nautical, and a longing to be the captain of your own vessel? Then it’s perhaps time to climb aboard with model building – an ever-popular pastime in Glasgow. From Richmond Park to Knightswood, Queen’s Park to Rouken Glen pond, there are model boat clubs making use of local waters to set sail with incredibly detailed replicas of famous warships and steam boats.

It may take some time to build up the skills required (and an eye for fibreglass fixtures the size of a thumbnail) but radio-control model builders often become hooked, creating their own fleet to set sail on weekend and at special events throughout the year. Just be sure to watch out for swans, or your warships might fall prey to towering sea monsters.

25. Tone up at Tabata

No time for a lengthy gym trip? With Tabata, there’s no excuse not to fit in a quick work out. The four minute, high intensity programme launched in Glasgow last year – and with 600 crammed into the Emirates Arena to take part in the first session, it was the world’s biggest mass participation in the new fitness craze. Us time-poor Glaswegians clearly care about our health.

Now, Glasgow Life offers classes across the city, touting high intensity interval training as the best way to get results – a far cry from a boring run on the treadmill. Say hello to those killer abs.

Got any more ideas for Glasgow hobbies? Tweet @wow247glasgow

More Glasgow tips

25 things you didn’t know you could do in Glasgow
30 things to do for free in Glasgow
25 things you won’t know about Glasgow unless you’ve lived there

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