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Glasgow announced as World's Leading Festival and Event Destination 2019

Home News

Glasgow announced as World's Leading Festival and Event Destination 2019

Glasgow has been voted the World’s Leading Festival and Event Destination 2019 in the 26th annual World Travel Awards, globally recognised as the most prestigious honours programme in global travel and tourism.

(picture credit: Kenny Hunter)

Following being awarded the European title in June 2019, the city beat off other competition from Singapore, Rio de Janeiro, London, Cape Town, and previous double-winner Dubai to be crowned the World Leader at the Awards Gala in Muscat, Oman last night (28 November).

Glasgow received the most votes from travel and tourism professionals and consumers across Europe, recognising the commitment to excellence which the city has demonstrated.

The city’s nomination for this award category was based on the array of world-class major sporting and cultural events which Glasgow has hosted over the last few years.

Billy Garrett, Director of Sport and Events at Glasgow Life, said: “We’ve known for a long time that Glasgow is a world-class city when it comes to delivering festivals and events, but it’s still brilliant to see our reputation being honoured by such a prestigious programme as the World Travel Awards. This accolade is proof that we are globally renowned for hosting spectacular events which draw visitors from across the globe.

“In the last year alone we’ve hosted the first-ever European Championships which saw over half a million spectators, another spectacular Celtic Connections with more than 130,000 attendances, the hugely successful 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships when we welcomed almost 21,000 fans to Emirates Arena over three fantastic days of competition, and next week we will host the 20th LEN European Short Course Swimming Championships in Tollcross International Swimming Centre.

“However we are not a city to rest and applaud our own success - we will continue to work hard and build on our previous experience to ensure Glasgow maintains its global reputation for hosting world-class events and festivals.”

Glasgow sets a new standard when it comes to major sporting events. From the “best ever” Commonwealth Games in 2014, to the inaugural European Championships in 2018, the city is one of the top five sporting cities in the world.

With over 500,000 attendances across the European Championships, the 12 sport venues and three cultural live sites were packed demonstrating the city’s appetite for major events.

While elite sport was the main attraction for visitors to the city during the Glasgow 2018 European Championships, the accompanying Festival 2018 and GO LIVE! programmes proved more popular than anticipated with an incredible half a million visitors over the eleven days of competition.

The city is renowned for delivering successful world-class events, and this reputation was a deciding factor in Glasgow and Scotland being awarded the first-ever UCI World Cycling Championships in 2023. This historic, innovative event will bring together 13 existing World Cycling Championships disciplines into one event for the first time.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “A massive congratulations to Glasgow on being awarded the World’s Leading Festival and Events Destination 2019 at the World Travel Awards. They are a hugely deserving winner having built strong reputation in delivering innovative and world-class international cultural and sporting events including 2014 Commonwealth Games, Celtic Connections and last year’s European Championships and Festival 2018. 

“Since EventScotland’s inception in 2003, we have built a strong relationship with the city through our work with Glasgow Life, helping bid for and secure a number of events over the years including most recently the inaugural UCI 2023 Cycling World Championships. It is through this close working relationship that we can ensure Scotland maintains it enviable reputation as the perfect stage for events.”

The city’s leading cultural event programme played an integral role in the award win, with a focus on world-leading music festival Celtic Connections. The event presents 18 incredible days of music, ceilidhs, talks, screenings and much more every year in venues across Glasgow. Around 2000 artists from 25 countries took part in 300 events for Celtic Connections 2019. The festival, which was first held in 1994, stays true to its Celtic musical roots while continually seeking to explore new ideas and musical styles, with folk, jazz, techno and Americana among the 2019 programme.

Other annual cultural events include the Merchant City Festival, Piping Live!, Glasgow Film Festival, Aye Write!, Glasgow International Comedy Festival, the World Pipe Band Championships and the biennial Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art.

Sion Rapson, Vice President, World Travel Awards, said: “I am so thrilled that for the very first time in the long and distinguished history of the World Travel Awards, Glasgow has been voted the ‘World’s Leading Festival and Event Destination’.

“The list of finalists hasn’t ever been as strong, and all would have been extremely worthy winners, so for Glasgow to emerge on top is a stellar achievement and one which cements the city’s positioning on the world map. 

“The highest annual travel industry honour is true testament to Glasgow’s unrivalled commitment to raising the standards of its tourism offerings.”