The Vikings left ornate, richly-carved gravestones. Later the celebrated architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh dreamed up stunning Art Nouveau offices, schools and museums. Now, amid all that eye-catching history, Glasgow has cut a very modern path with buzzing bars, hip restaurants and much-ballyhooed art galleries and museums. Throw in the energy and vigour offered by the University of Glasgow and its 30,000-person strong student body and you start the understand why Glasgow was recently named the world’s friendliest city by Time Out magazine. Locals clearly have a lot of reasons to be happy.

In the world of Eurovision, that all leads to one very big question: Should Glasgow be Eurovision 2023 host city?

The enthusiasm is certainly there. Over the summer, when the EBU said it would consult with the BBC about potentially hosting Eurovision 2023, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among the first leaders in the UK to back a city, throwing her weight behind Glasgow.

Now, as we continue our tour through the Eurovision 2023 host city shortlist, it’s time to look at why so many people are raving about Scotland’s biggest city. 

 
 
 
 
 
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Will Glasgow host Eurovision 2023? 10 Facts to consider 

1. OVO Hydro Arena would make a spectacular Eurovision venue

The OVO Hydro Arena looks like a giant spacecraft that’s landed on the River Clyde. The high-impact design comes from Foster and Partners, the renowned London architecture firm behind the Millennium Bridge in London, the redevelopment of the Reichstag building in Berlin and the British Museum’s Great Court (with its tessellated glass roof). The Hydro web site explains that the design marries form and function in a beautiful way. “The distinctive elliptical sloping shape of the OVO Hydro was inspired by ancient Greek and Roman amphitheatres,” it says. “This shape offers the optimum balance of viewing angle and distance from the stage.” 

The venue has a maximum capacity of 14,300 and hosts more than 140 events every year. Attracting more than a million people annually, it regularly makes the list for the Top 10 busiest arenas globally alongside the likes of The O2 in London and Madison Square Garden in New York. Between now and December it will host concerts by A-list artists including: Andrea Bocelli, George Ezra, Swedish House Mafia, Machine Gun Kelly, Billy Idol, Robbie Williams, Kasabian, Franz Ferdinand, Westlife, Florence + The Machine and The Cure. Whew!

2. There are plenty of hotel rooms at every price point

The European Broadcasting Union requires that potential host cities have at least 2,000 available hotel rooms to ensure that singers, their delegations and the production teams have a place to rest their heads. Glasgow clears that hurdle easily, with more than 15,000 rooms available across the Greater Glasgow area. The booming hotel scene has options no matter how deep your pockets — and features some shiny new options. Among the latest entries are the new Virgin Hotel and the shiny, LGBT-friendly Revolver Hotel, which sits above the Polo Lounge nightclub. It has 29 swish rooms that range from £25 to £300 per night.

 
 
 
 
 
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3. The Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre puts a unique twist on toys

If a witch who moonlighted as a choreographer went into a toy shop and waved her wand, she might dream up something like the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre. This Glasgow institution showcases a series of “toys,” which are more like individual art installations. During live performances they spin and twist — sometimes in unison with each other, at other times somewhat randomly — to tell surprisingly intense and moving stories, which are often set to haunting music. Whether made of scrap metal or carved by hand from wood, each “kinemat” has a distinct personality. Shows last between 30 and 60 minutes and should be booked well in advance to avoid disappointment. 

Sculptor and artist Eduard Bersudsky created the works over a twenty-year period, from 1969 to 1989, in his flat in St. Petersburg (then known as Leningrad). He couldn’t display them in the Soviet Union — authorities deemed them too dark and ideologically inappropriate — and he eventually wound up in Scotland. As his manager says: “We came here by chance, but we stayed here by choice because we loved the city, its atmosphere and creative people.”

4. The Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum has a famous elephant in residence

Eight thousand objects, twenty-two themed art galleries, and one very grand Victorian building — that’s what awaits at Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum, one of the most visited in the world. The famed West Court features Sir Roger the Asian Elephant, a taxidermy measuring more than three metres, who has been on display for more than 100 years. Capturing the eclectic nature of the place, a fully-restored, WWII Spitfire fighter plane hangs overhead. Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross is currently on loan to another museum, but will return to Glasgow in early 2023 — in plenty of time for Eurovision.

 
 
 
 
 
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5. Glasgow has Instagram moments on every street corner

You don’t have to stay inside to see art in Glasgow. It literally spills onto the streets and onto massive buildings all over the city centre thanks to talented street artists and muralists. The City Centre Mural Trail takes you past around two dozen giant works which reflect the colour and vibrancy of the city. Among our favourites are the blue-and-grey Crazy Cat Lady on Sauchiehall Street and the mural of a contemporary St Mungo, Glasgow’s patron saint, that nods to The Bird That Never Flew (both below). Eurovision fans will want to check out Spaceman on New Wynd.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by GlasgowGatsby (@glasgowgatsby)

 
 
 
 
 
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6. Try Scotland’s national dish haggis….or don’t

Not all haggis is created equal. Newbies who want to sample the infamous national dish — sheep’s or calf’s offal mixed with oatmeal, suet and seasoning, all boiled in a bag — may want to head to Stravaign. The celebrated restaurant serves theirs with a whisky sauce and sage crisps. Not a fan? Then maybe sample their dishes with grey squirrel or sea urchin, because when else are you going to? Another favourite destination is The Ubiquitous Chip, which includes a fine-dining restaurant downstairs, a bistro upstairs and several bars on top of all that. Ox cheek, parmesan polenta and pesto? You’re welcome! The Ubiquitous Chip has another advantage: It rests on the charming Ashton Lane, a picturesque cobbled street covered in fairy lights, which will help you rack up those Insta likes. 

Glasgow isn’t only about the meat. The city also has a reputation as one of the world’s most vegan-friendly cities. Best name for a restaurant goes to Rawnchy, which cooks up delightful raw desserts alongside favourites like bao buns filled with sweet & sour pulled jackfruit. Local vegans call themselves Glasvegans, which reminds us of another delightful café — The Glasvegan. 

 
 
 
 
 
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7. There are fossils of trees older than the dinosaurs

There are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself in Glasgow without spending a penny, including the admission-free museums and parks. 

Victoria Park, one of Glasgow’s prettiest, has a lot more that pretty hollies. Its Fossil Grove houses the remnants of an ancient forest, including fossilised tree stumps said to be 330 million years old (that’s the Carboniferous Period for all of you into geological time). That makes them older than the oldest-known dinosaurs. The fossilised stumps formed on land that was once close to the equator, near Brazil.

Want to see Glasgow from its highest point at 200m above sea level? Head over to Cathkin Braes Country Park, which offers one of the best panoramic views of the city. Want a pic for Instagram in front of the unusual Templeton on the Green, which was inspired by the Doge’s Palace in Venice? Head to Glasgow Green. We’re partial to the Glasgow Necropolis, a 37-acre Victorian cemetery. It’s home to Glasgow Cathedral, the oldest of mainland Scotland’s surviving medieval cathedrals, and a huge variety of ornate tombstones. If you want to commune with animals, head over to Pollok Country Park — Glasgow’s largest. Around 50 Highland cattle graze the fields all year round! While you’re there you can visit the recently re-furbished Burrell Collection, which houses the eclectic art collection of the Glasgow shipping magnate Sir William Burrell and his wife Constance. The art spans six millennia.

8. Visitors can get physical — on the water and in the Velodrome

It’s easy to work up a sweat in Glasgow, on land and on the water. The Glasgow to Edinburgh canoe trail will put your upper body to the test as you admire Central Scotland from a unique vantage point. Elsewhere, Glasgow Wake Park schools people on wakeboarding, which is sort of like snowboarding on water, and the good folks at Outdoor Pursuits can teach you all about river boogie-boarding and tubing. Not in the mood to exert that much energy? Then consider a Seaforce Speed Boat Trip, which zips folks between the Riverside Museum and the city centre on the River Clyde. 

 
 
 
 
 
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Adrenaline junkies will want to check out the Glasgow BMX Centre — Scotland’s only Olympic standard BMX track. The centre offers induction sessions and provides both the bike and safety equipment so you won’t get hurt as you speed down hills, jumps and banked corners.  Fans of legendary Scottish cyclist Chris Hoy will definitely want to check out the velodrome named in his honour. Built for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, it’s open to the public. You can even book an introductory session with a coach to help you master your laps.

9. Some of your favourite musical acts are from Glasgow

It’s only natural that a city known for its art and culture has nurtured plenty of musicians known around the world. Some Glaswegian names you might know include Lewis Capaldi, Lulu, Amy McDonald, Belle and Sebastian, Chvrches, Del Amitri, Franz Ferdinand, Simple Minds, Travis and Wet Wet Wet.

Mr Capaldi, who now lives smack bang in the middle of Glasgow and Edinburgh, once told Cork’s RedFM that he much prefers Glasgow, partly because he was born there. He then stressed that it has a lively drinking and dance culture. Asked by the host what they would do, he said: “We’d go drink alcohol … and that’s probably all that we’d do….We’d start in a Weatherspoons. We’d maybe go to Subclub at the end, we’d two step the night away you and I. Then we’d wake up in the morning and do it all again.”

Eurovision 1969 champion Lulu told BBC Two’s Newsnight that the contest needs to come to her beloved city. The “Boom Bang-a-Bang” singer grew up in Dennistoun, a residential district of Glasgow. She said:

“It has to be Glasgow because that’s where I come from. They’re so politically savvy, they’re the most fabulous hosts, they absolutely are music mad. I think it would be just the most fabulous thing, and I would be there. I just cannot wait.”

10. Glaswegians are among the friendliest people on earth

Different surveys, same result: Glasgow is frequently named the world’s friendliest city. Most recently it topped the 2022 survey from Time Out and last year it finished No. 1 with Rough Guides. Theories vary as to why Glaswegians are so happy and warm. But many have cited the city’s lower living costs and access to all the food, art, sights and slayage listed above. Others point out that many Glaswegians have Irish ancestry, and that the Irish are famed for being chatty.  

What excites you the most about Glasgow? What other things do people need to know about the city? Let us know what you’re thinking down below.

And be sure to check out our other 10 Facts articles on the other host city candidates (and even those who didn’t make the cut) for more travel inspiration.  

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Joe
Joe
26 days ago

I’ve already got apartments booked for the second and third weekends of May in Glasgow. Hope it turns out to be one of them. Process of elimination, the last 10 contests have been one of those weekends. The first and fourth weekends are both bank holidays in the UK which May clash with other events. Fingers crossed!

Christopher
Christopher
1 month ago

You forgot to mention the rampant sectarianism and rain.

Yudhistira Mahasena
1 month ago

I’ve always wanted to go to Glasgow. It’s my dream destination. They have many landmarks I’m dying to visit:

  1. George Square
  2. Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art
  3. Buchanan Street
  4. Hampden Park Stadium
  5. Queen’s Park
  6. Bothwell Castle
  7. Titan Clydebank
  8. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
  9. West End
  10. University of Glasgow campus

If Glasgow does become the host city of Eurovision 2023, it would make perfect sense for Scottish artists to host the contest as well. Actor Ewan McGregor and actress Kelly Macdonald would be perfect candidates to MC the contest.

Glasgow 2023 for sure!

HarpyDarper
HarpyDarper
1 month ago
Lawrence Gibb
1 month ago

A great trip down memory lane or lanes there for me. I now live 40 miles or so from Glasgow but was a student and worked there. The Ubiquitous Chip was where my family and I celebrated my first graduation in 1980. It truly is a cultural hub and its people are so friendly and kind. It has excellent transport connections so if you don’t want to pay City centre prices there is plenty of accommodation in the satellite towns around Glasgow.

Euroboitoy
Euroboitoy
1 month ago
Reply to  Lawrence Gibb

Totally, Paisley is only a 10 min train journey away with bnbs and hotels in various areas.

TJCat
TJCat
1 month ago

Id be very happy if its Glasgow

Yankee
Yankee
1 month ago

William Wallace would approve of Glasgow.

Euroboitoy
Euroboitoy
1 month ago
Reply to  Yankee

Although he’d prefer Elderslie heheh

Azuro
Azuro
1 month ago

“Friendly people” LMAO
The home of the Glaswegian kiss (headbutt to the nose)

Euroboitoy
Euroboitoy
1 month ago
Reply to  Azuro

I’m sorry? Suppose you want Liverpool then where the stereotypical nonsense is cars being on bricks because their tyres are stolen? Or Manchester, where a terrorist can cause havok at a concert? Stop being an idiot. Every city has its ups and downs, its positives and negatives. Glasgow is a friendly city.

Also, just wanna clarify, I am not having a dig about the other cities, just pointing out any stigmas that anyone could say about any city. I am just happy that the UK is hosting the show once more.

Luke B
Luke B
1 month ago

The Hydro is defintely the most photogenic of the arenas. Everything is really close by (inc. BBC Scotland, just across thr river). My only concern is that if Glasgow gets chosen, ESC might get caught up in the debate around Scottish independence. Unionists using it as proof of the benefits of Scotland remaining in the UK, while Nationalists say, “See, we can do things by ourselves. And we could have our own entry.” If Glasgow is chosen, I’ll be happy about it.

Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago
Reply to  Luke B

The festival is so political, that there would be no better place than Glasgow. EBU should be so happy about that.

Luke B
Luke B
1 month ago
Reply to  Whisker

The EBU wouldn’t choose it because it’s political, in fact, quite the opposite. In 2019, they rejected Jerusalem despite the Israeli government’s insistence for that very reason – it was too political.

Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago
Reply to  Luke B

I was joking!
Tho I fully support Glasgow since the festival has never been hosted in Scotland before and Glasgow could make an excellent host city because of a variety of facts.

Euroboitoy
Euroboitoy
1 month ago

You want a party, Glasgow is the place to be. A city thriving with culture and history. Wherever Eurovision ends up, I am just happy Glasgow has made the shortlist.

Hey Eurovision…..come on in!!!

Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago

The Carboniferous Period is my favouritest! I also like friendly people!