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Visit During December For Festive Fun!
George Square (Glasgow)
Member Name: angelboouk
George Square (Glasgow)
Advantages: history, events, christmas! location, benches
Disadvantages: boring except at xmas, little toilet facilities, no grassy areas to sit
George Square is the main civic square in the city of Glasgow. It was named after King George III and was plans for developement were initially laid out in 1781. George Square is home to many historical statues which remain there all year around. The most prominent one being the 80foot high statue of Walter Scott (author). Other statues include Robert Burns and Queen Victoria as well as a memorium for those who lost their lives in WW1.
~Location and Surrounding Area~
Some may say George Square is in the centre of Glasgow though Glasgow is a huge city. George Square is in a convenient location which can be reached by various side streets from the main shopping precint. It is a 10minute walk from Central Station and an entrance to Queen Street Station is across from the square. It can be reached by walking 5minutes from Argyle Street or Buchannan Street. Bus services coming from Arygle Street service the square and stop of the West side of the square. The Art Museum (GOMA) is visible from George Square.
The square is in the centre of various buildings and separated by a road and pavements (including traffic lights). The main buildings include City Chambers which overshadows the square. The Millenium Hotel sits neatly next to Queen Street Station. Other buildings include various offices, a tourist office and some upmarket restaurants. If you fancy a bite to eat but don't want to pay a fortune, Greggs is on the square and a small Burger King (in Central Station). A short walk will take you to Pizza Hut, Subway and various cafes/restaurants selling a whole host of food at various prices.
~Why George Square?~
Most recently, George Square was closed to the public as filming was going on for a Brad Pitt movie (and previously scenes from Taggart). The square used to have grassy areas but is now mainly red tarmac. In between the columns, you will find various benches to relax on. There are a few trees dotted around the square and not much else. The main focus of George Square, is the event side of it and during events, the square and surrounding area is buzzing! You can actually hire the square for a day (or just 4hours) but it costs upwards of £600.00.
*Starting or ending the year, are the Hogmonay celebrations. Previous years events seen you through to new year but from this year, the focus is on families with day long celebrations finishing at 10pm. Details are to be confirmed.
*Shows - everything from Art, Weddings shows and music festivals throughout the year. In most cases tickets need to be purchased online.
*Lights Switch On - In November each year, the Christmas lights surrounding the square are turned on. This is a big event where you need tickets (max 6per household). Tickets are not yet available for the event. The event includes the light switchon (including the tree and lights around the monuments), singing and a firework display. Clyde 1 or Real Radio usually provide the entertainment.
*Glasgow Loves Christmas! - end of November through to December, George Square turns into a winterfest! There will be singing, fair ground rides (Helter skelter, carousel, swings), various stalls selling goodies and drinks. An outdoor icerink features in the centre which is open all day. Charges apply for the skating from £6.00 upwards.
As I live 25mins (by train) from Glasgow, I tend to visit the city often. There is so much to do and I love the city! George Square isn't a place I visit every time I am in the city. When I used to work in Glasgow, we would head around there during the Summer and chill out with our lunch. It is very popular for this purpose and even when really busy, you can usually find a seat. It is very clean and spacious. Every part of the square is level so pushing a buggy or wheelchair around can be done with ease. Spotting the square is easy enough, getting across the road is a bit more difficult as the traffic can be a hit or a miss!
When we visit, we usually approach the square from Argyle Street or one of the side streets off Buchanan Street. It has an enclosed feel about it and even with the traffic whizzing around the outskirts, it feels safe. The surrounding buildings add to the historic feel of the square. They look old fashioned and classy. There is a distinct lack of shops in this area (unless they are boutique like and hidden away) so everything sort of blends together. The birds (gulls and pigeons) are irritating and there are plenty of them to annoy you so personally, I couldn't sit in the square for too long through fear of being shat on from a great height!
Whilst George Square looks pretty and understated throughout the year, my favourite time to visit is during the festive season. Up until we had our son, we would go in every year for the light switch on. Back then, it was a free for all and got very busy. Now you need a ticket and we are never quick enough to get one! The police shut off the side streets to avoid anyone sneaking in and unless you have birds eye platform, you aren't going to see the event. The whole feel of the square changes when the lights go on. It is never going to be Blackpool Illuminations for sure and certainly can't compete with the delights of Buchanan Street, but it looks beautiful, festive and bright. The firework displays during the switch on are really good with various fireworks being set off from the Chamber building..very magical and a wonderful experience if you can get tickets.
We usually go in for the Christmas displays. The columns are lit up beautifully. So much so that I often visit the website which shows a live feed to the square to take in how amazing it looks. They erent a huge stage for the event and have a schedule of performances throughout the event. We seem to miss them but last year, we did catch a school choir singing. It is even better if the snow starts to drizzle down as the red tarmac reflects it perfectly. During this time, they have portacabin toilets which are fairly clean and well stocked.
As you can see from my pictures (on ciao), we visited last year with our son. He is a little old now of course and this year we will be going in without a buggy which will allow him to experience it a bit better. The ice rink looks amazing and is always busy. The prices may seem quite high but they aren't too bad as you do get a decent skating session and the surroundings make it very much worth the price. I am not a confident skater so don't want to embarress myself on the ice! I do however appreciate they have parent and toddler sessions certain mornings if you fancy having a skate with your cherub.
There is a limited choice of rides to entertain during the festive season but you wouldn't expect much more as the square isn't massive. If I remember rightly it was around £2.00 for the carousel and swings and it looked so much fun (the inner child shall rise this year I promise!). The small stalls sold some delicious treats such as hot chocolate, burgers, chocolate fountain treats and sweets. An over 18s bar is also present selling mulled wine and alcoholic drinks. The prices are about average considering the event. It was around £1.50 for a hot chocolate and £2 ish for some chocolate fountain fun. If you wish for a wider selection of treats, I would recommend the annual German Christmas Market (around 10mins walk to St Enoch Centre).
If you go at weekends, the area does get crowded but midweek, it isn't too bad. I am aware they have special mini events during this time including activities for families such as face painting and science activities. These normally incur a small charge.
We plan on going in for the festive events this year. We will probably visit twice. One day we will take our toddler in to experience the lights and head off for lunch. I will visit another day with my Mum and sister before doing our Christmas shopping. We can treat ourselves to a wee drink and a ride on the carousel! Either way we will have fun. I definently recommend a visit during December as you won't be disappointed with the atmosphere. Lets hope for snow!
I have only ever been to one other event in the square. I say event but it was a smallish affair which involved a huge inflated dome. I can't for the life of me remember what it was all about but I was intrigued and paid a pound or something to go in and explore this dome. Whilst the events will never be to the standard of SECC, they attract the crowds. I would simply be worried about planning anything due to the open nature of the square and typical Scottish weather!
~Meet You There!~
George Square is the ideal location to arrange to meet someone or a group. Due to how accessible it is (by bus, train or car (many car parks around the area), you can arrange to meet at a certain monument without having to walk too far. We have arranged numerous meet ups for the bingo site we play on and every one has started in George Square. As we meet up on a Saturday, we can say "meet at the lions 1.30pm". No one has ever got lost or misplaced so it is very convenient. The addition of the benches allows those to be in clear view whilst waiting on those stragglers (usually me and my sister) to arrive. The square is well sign posted throughout the city centre and very easy to find.
Whilst George Square isn't somewhere you could spend a full day, it is ideal for relaxing in the summer or experiencing the delights of a Glasgow christmas! The columns are interesting if you haven't experienced them before though the occasional events are what the make the square an interesting place to visit and of course a free place to visit for most of the year. Whilst you could find somewhere to eat in the immediate area, I would recommend going out to the main shopping precint and combine lunch with shopping.
Overall, a 4 star recommendation from me.
Thanks for reading x
Summary: the heart of Glasgow!
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