The most ambitious Merchant City Festival ever is set to wow audiences for five days this summer, from Wednesday 25 July to Sunday 29 July. Families, festival-goers and football fans have been promised the biggest and best spectacular yet, with an incredibly diverse programme that will bring several Scottish premieres and specially commissioned performances to Glasgow. The festivities will continue until 3 August with the 2012 Experience, when Glasgow hosts eight Olympic football matches at Hampden as part of London 2012.
Following the record-breaking success of 2011, when the festival enjoyed over 90,000 attendances across four days, organisers Glasgow Arts are busy programming the most wide-ranging, colourful and inclusive festival ever to be staged in Glasgow’s Merchant City. However, today (Wednesday 30 May), they teased what is sure to be one of the festival’s highlights by releasing an artist’s impression of Big Man Walking in Glasgow.
To mark Glasgow’s status as an Olympic City and with the 2014 Commonwealth Games coming ever closer, this year’s programme will reflect games, playing and participating in its widest context. Over 300 events, most free to attend, across 75 venues will bring street theatre, music, dance, circus and performance together with visual arts, comedy, literature and specially programmed family events to create a mesmerizing, five day extravaganza.
Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of the Merchant City Festival said: “The Merchant City Festival embodies everything I love about Glasgow. It is ambitious, diverse, exciting and fun. Last year, tens of thousands of people agreed and we enjoyed a record-breaking show. That success enabled us to grow the festival again for 2012. This year, the party starts earlier to incorporate the excitement of hosting Olympic football at Hampden.
“The festival’s standing as a real summertime celebration has enabled us to secure some of the country’s brightest and most exciting talent. This, in turn, encourages even more people to enjoy the occasion, generating important revenue for Glasgow.
“If you’ve been in the Merchant City during the festival you’ll have experienced the fantastic music, culture and artistic passion, which is so palpable around the area. This is thanks to the wealth of cutting-edge arts organisations and venues based there. If you’ve still to experience the festival make 2012 the year to savour all that will be on offer.”
The theme of playing and participating reflects Glasgow’s increasing standing as one of the world’s most respected sporting cities. In 2010 the Merchant City Festival moved to a new summer slot to coincide with Glasgow 2014. This year, the festival will start a day early on Wednesday 25 July to incorporate the first of eight Olympic football matches to be played at Hampden.
A 2012 Experience stage will be built on Brunswick Street in the Merchant City and will be programmed every day of the festival, continuing until 3 August 2012. A large screen will also be erected on which the matches being hosted in Glasgow will be broadcast; the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games will also be screened on Friday 27 July.
Ahead of the Opening Ceremony Scotland’s largest puppet, the 8 metre high Big Man Walking will be awoken from his slumber by traditional Gaelic song, led by songwriter and Mòd Gold Medallist, Alasdair Whyte, before parading around Glasgow for the first time. Set to be one of the festival highlights this is a rare opportunity to witness the true majesty of Vision Mechanics incredible mythical giant. The audience will be invited to follow him as he explores the Merchant City, before partying in style at a Brazilian samba celebration at the 2012 Experience stage.
Symon Macintyre, Artistic Director at Vision Mechanics said: “We are delighted to bring the Big Man to Glasgow for the first time at the Merchant City Festival. The festival is well-known for its big party atmosphere and the Big Man enjoys a party. He’s over 8 metres high so we hope families and festival-goers will give him a huge welcome that will set in motion a weekend of wonderful celebrations.”
Councillor Matheson added: “Bringing Big Man Walking to Glasgow is something we are immensely proud of – it showcases our aspirations to generate genuine excitement and to engage our citizens and those from further afield. He will urge others to join him in a parade around the city, to take part, as befits the theme running across this year’s programme. The importance of playing and taking part in sport and activity cannot be underestimated as we countdown to London 2012 and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.”
Kevin Maguire from Merchant Square said “We are proud to continue our longstanding support of the Merchant City Festival, and look forward to welcoming visitors throughout the festival, whether it’s to enjoy the entertainment on the Merchant Square stage or to join in the celebrations in our many bars and restaurants”.
Other Festival highlights will be announced in mid-June when the Festival programme is launched.
The Merchant City Festival encourages locals and visitors to the city to explore some of the rich heritage, architecture and history of the area, before stopping to appreciate its vibrant café culture, shops, bars and restaurants.
The Merchant City Festival will run from 25 July to 29 July, with the 2012 Experience continuing until 3 August