Scotland is home to some amazing music venues, because we know that nothing compares to seeing your favourite acts live. From small, intimate sets to massive stadiums and weekend-long events – you're never far away from a great gig!
Glasgow: A UNESCO City of Music
If music is the lifeblood of Scottish culture, then Glasgow is most definitely its beating heart. The city’s passion for music is unparalleled, so it came as no surprise that it was officially recognised as a UNESCO City of Music in 2008 – at the time, becoming only the third country in the world to have this honour. Today, Glasgow is part of a 47-strong network of ‘Cities of Music’ and lives up to this prestigious title by showcasing more than 130 live performances on any given week.
Naturally, a city so well known for its musical pedigree is also home to an impressive array of venues. Upon these stages have walked not only an impressive crop of home-grown talent, but also some of the world’s biggest superstars.
Here’s a wee peek at some of Glasgow’s top venues:
Built in 1934, The Barrowlands is one of Glasgow’s most iconic venues – with its distinctive neon signage believed to be the biggest of its kind in the UK. Largely destroyed by fire in 1958, the venue underwent a massive rebuild and has since staged legendary acts such as David Bowie, U2, Oasis, Foo Fighters and The Clash.
Situated on the banks of the River Clyde, the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre is a multi-purpose event space and the largest exhibition centre in Scotland. Developed in the early 1980s, the centre is made up of several large halls – with halls three and four being most commonly used for live music events.
The SSE Hydro
A stone’s throw from the S.E.C.C. you’ll find one of Scotland’s most recognisable venues – the SSE Hydro. Built in 2013 and able to hold crowds of more than 14,000 people, the Hydro has become Scotland’s premier event space. If that wasn’t enough, it was also recognised as one of the world’s best venues in Pollstar’s ‘Top 100 Worldwide Arena Venues’.
The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Home to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall is found right in the heart of the city centre. Opened in 1990, the venue’s main hall is one of the largest of its kind in the UK and although it’s predominantly home to classical music events, it has welcomed everything from opera and ballet to rock, pop and folk acts.
In its near 100-year history, the O2 Academy has been everything from a picture house to a bingo hall before finally being refurbished as a live music venue in 2003. This gorgeous, listed building has gone on to host some of music’s biggest stars, including James Brown, Kanye West, The Prodigy and Snoop Dogg.
King Tut's Wah Wah Hut
The legendary King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut has been at the forefront of the live music scene in Scotland for decades. Today it’s one of the world’s most celebrated venues, dedicated to showcasing new and emerging bands. The venue has supported some of music’s biggest names at the start of their careers, including Oasis, Radiohead, My Chemical Romance and The Killers.
Of course, Scotland’s musical pedigree spreads far and wide across the country, and though Glasgow is the epicentre, you’re sure to find wonderful gigs and venues wherever you go. From the stunning grandeur of Edinburgh Castle, to the rustic cosiness of a local village pub – if there’s room to squeeze in a microphone and speaker then we’ll make it happen.
Here are some other famous Scottish venues:
P&J Live, Aberdeen
One of Scotland’s newest event venues, the P&J Live replaced the old Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre as the north of Scotland’s premier event space. Opened in 2019, this indoor arena was the site of Scotland’s largest indoor gig, when 15,000 people turned out to see Scottish star Gerry Cinnamon perform.
Edinburgh Corn Exchange, Edinburgh
The Edinburgh Corn Exchange was originally built back in 1909 and was traditionally used as a market place where traders could buy and sell – you guessed it – grains. Redeveloped in the 1990s, the Corn Exchange is now one of Edinburgh’s best-known music venues and can hold up to 3000 spectators in its main hall.
Fat Sam's, Dundee
Fat Sam’s is a multi-award winning venue and nightclub in the heart of Dundee. As well as playing host to new and emerging talent, Fat Sam’s has welcomed some of music’s biggest names and boasts several nightclubs within its boundaries for you to enjoy once the live music ends.
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh
Yes – not content with being one of Scotland’s most iconic and instantly recognisable visitor attractions, Edinburgh Castle also loves to put on a little music every now and again. Every summer, the castle’s esplanade is transformed into one of the world’s most unique concert venues with artists performing against the stunning backdrop of this magical building.
The Ironworks, Inverness
The Ironworks is a purpose-built live music venue in the heart of Inverness in the north of Scotland. The venue has a strong reputation for developing new and emerging local talent, but is also known to welcome established acts onto its state-of-the-art stage. No matter who you end up seeing, you’re sure to have a great night here.