2 July 2024

Merchant City Festival confirms spectacular 2024 programme

A performer in a brightly coloured outfit made of pom-poms stands in front of a 1700s building. A sign for Merchant Square can be seen behind the performer.

Glasgow’s Merchant City Festival has announced a fun-filled programme for this year’s weekend-long celebration of entertainment.

The highly popular event will run from Friday 19 to Sunday 21 July 2024 and feature outdoor arts, circus and dance acts, musicians and more.

The Merchant City Festival is delivered by Glasgow Life, the charity that leads culture and sport in Glasgow, and offers plenty of free fun for all the family. The theme of the festival is Fair: Play, celebrating Glasgow’s Fair Fortnight, the traditional holiday when Glaswegians relaxed and had fun.

Entertainment acts will take to the streets and venues of the Merchant City – including the event sponsors Merchant Square and The Social Hub Glasgow – across the three days of the festival. On the Saturday and Sunday, Merchant Square will host free family days (11.00am-5.00pm) featuring family ceilidhs, Bebop Bairns discos, dancers, puppet shows and roaming characters like the multicoloured Prom Pom Queen. The Prom Pom Queen act is co-commissioned with Scotland’s children’s theatre agency Imaginate.

The much-loved Merchant City Festival markets will also return, offering craft, farmers’ and gift markets and food stalls.

For the first time, Merchant Square will host musical entertainment each night of the festival. The musical evenings kick off with a ceilidh (5.30-7.00pm) and are followed by performances from two bands (7.30-8.30pm and 9.00-10.00pm). A DJ will then keep the party going from 10.00pm-midnight.

Renowned Glasgow festival Celtic Connections will bring folk, roots and world music to Merchant Square on the Friday night. The music programme on the Saturday night celebrates Glasgow Pride, which is also taking place in the city that day, with a Queer-led programme including Megan Black. The Sunday evening features sets by Glaswegian roots trio Awkward Family Portraits and 50s pop outfit The Shivering Sheiks.

As well as the activity taking place in and around the streets of the Merchant City, the 2024 event includes Hip Replacement community disco nights where the ‘middle edge’ crew can enjoy top tunes on a large dancefloor. The Hip Replacement nights take place at the Old Fruitmarket on the Friday and Saturday (7.00pm until midnight). Tickets are available on the Merchant City Festival webpage.

After sell-out shows at Glasgow International Comedy Festival, Big Angie FireStarter will light up The Social Hub on Saturday 20 July (8.00-9.30pm). Visit the Merchant City Festival webpage to buy tickets for the Big Angie comedy nights. Due to unforeseen circumstances, a scheduled Big Angie FireStarter performance at The Social Hub on Friday 19 July has had to be cancelled.

The Merchant City Festival will start in style on Friday 19 July with a music programme from Surge, Scotland’s leading outdoor arts agency. The programme begins with a performance by singer-songwriter and clarsach player Pauline Vallance in Brunswick Street (12.00-12.30pm and 5.00-5.30pm). Glaswegian indie-folk singer The Jimmy Hoo Ha will then take to the microphone in Wilson Street (12.30-1.00pm, 1.30-2.00pm and 4.30-5.00pm) before Zimbabwean DJ Elanda lays down hypnotic tracks in Brunswick Street (12.30-1.30pm and 4.00-5.00pm on Friday 19, 4.15-5.15pm on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July).

The Prom Pom Queen will entertain visitors in Merchant Square during this year’s Merchant City Festival. Credit: Rob Casey for Glasgow Life.

Atlantic Journey will perform traditional flamenco and Afro-Cuban dancing in Brunswick Street on Friday 19 July (1.00-1.30pm and 5.00-5.30pm). Cera Impala’s impressive vocals will take audiences to another place and time at the junction of Albion Street and Bell Street from 1.30-2.00pm and 5.30-6.00pm on Friday 19 July (1.00-1.30pm and 2.30-3.00pm on Saturday 20 July; 1.00-1.30pm and 2.30-3.00pm, Sunday 21 July).

Giant Grimaldi Twin Puppets will roam the Merchant City streets along with friends on stilts and skates between 2.00pm and 4.00pm. The opening day closes with musical performances by Lo-Fi Hip Hop Beetroots on Wilson Street (4.00-4.30pm and 5.30-6.00pm).

Arts agency Surge will bring street theatre that ignites the senses and fuels the imagination to the Merchant City on the Saturday and Sunday of the festival.

On Saturday 20 July, a daring exercise by The Frame act in Garth Street and Hutcheson Street (12.00-12.45pm and 3.45-4.30pm) will give passers-by a chance to witness the extraordinary – visit the webpage to book a place to watch this free, must-see act.

The Most Dangerous Animal in the World show on the corner of Wilson Street and Hutcheson Street tells the story of a sheep who ends up in the city after being exiled from her island community for her adventurous spirit (12.30-1.05pm and 4.30pm-4.45pm on Saturday 20 July; 12.30-1.05pm and 2.45-3.20pm on Sunday 21 July).

Glasgow Science Centre’s BodyWorks exhibition, which lets visitors take a new look at the science behind health and wellbeing, will open at The Boardwalk from 11.00am until 5.00pm on the Saturday and Sunday. The Boardwalk will also offer a quiet space for people to rest, contemplate, meditate and pray during the festival.

Glasgow Science Centre will also deliver Castles Rock! shows which explain why science and engineering are crucial to understanding life in times gone by. The shows take place at The Social Hub on Saturday 20 July and Sunday 21 July (12.30-12.45pm, 1.30-1.45pm, 3.00-3.15pm and 4.00-4.15pm).

A Portal in Candleriggs offers visitors a chance to leave the streets of Glasgow behind and step into imagined worlds of their own making on the Saturday from 1.00-4.00pm (and 1.00-4.00pm on Sunday 21 July). Later that afternoon, Glaswegian brass band Brass, Aye? will sing, dance and deliver a carnival atmosphere all while dressed in gold in Albion Street and Bell Street (1.45-2.15pm and 3.45-4.15pm).

Many of the acts taking to the Merchant City streets on the Saturday of the festival will return on the Sunday. The final day also features a performance by Un Duo Jazz de Baribone, who will play jazz tunes to groove to (Albion Street and Bell Street, 1.45-2.15pm and 3.45-4.15pm).

The Merchant City Festival draws large groups of visitors to the area over the course of the weekend. To ensure festivalgoers’ safety, the following roads will be closed to traffic from 6.00am on Friday 19 July until 11.59pm on Sunday 21 July: Brunswick Street, Bell Street (between Candleriggs and Walls Street), Candleriggs, Garth Street, Wilson Street (between Glassford Street and Candleriggs), Hutcheson Street and Albion Street (between Blackfriars Street and Trongate).

No vehicles will be allowed to wait, load or unload from 3.00pm on Thursday 18 July until 11.59pm on Sunday 21 July in Hutcheson Street, Brunswick Street, Bell Street (between Candleriggs and Walls Street), Candleriggs, Garth Street, Wilson Street (between Glassford Street and Candleriggs) and Albion Street (between Blackfriars Street and Trongate).

Bus lanes in Glassford Street (between Trongate and Wilson Street) will be closed from 4.00am on Friday 19 July until 11.59pm on Sunday 21 July.

A performer wearing an outfit made of brightly coloured pom-poms sits on a bench in front of a sign which reads 'Merchant Square'
The Prom Pom Queen will perform inside Merchant Square on the Saturday and Sunday of the 2024 Merchant City Festival. Credit: Rob Casey for Glasgow Life.

Billy Garrett, Director of Culture, Tourism and Events at Glasgow Life, said: “The Merchant City Festival is a core and popular part of Glasgow’s Summer of Events programme. Performers turn the streets and businesses of the area into a vibrant and fun hub of indoor and outdoor art which offers something for everyone. From amazing acts to great food and music, the Merchant City Festival has it all. The diversity, scale and quality of the programme for this year’s festival will definitely create another wonderful weekend of entertainment in Glasgow’s city centre.”

Julie Edwin, of Merchant Square, said: “The relationship between Merchant Square and the festival stretches back many years. We have enjoyed so many Merchant City Festivals going back a generation, so we are delighted to once again be a major sponsor, and key venue, for what promises to be another great weekend. There will be lots going on in Merchant Square including exciting family-friendly performances, programmed in partnership with Imaginate/Edinburgh International Children’s Festival. Every evening we will have a live music programme until midnight too. We look forward to extending a warm welcome to you. It's an exciting time for Merchant Square and the Merchant City with new restaurants such as Sano joining our already popular line-up, and a refreshed events programme bringing new energy to the district.”

Ben McLeod, General Manager at The Social Hub Glasgow, said: “The Social Hub is proud to sponsor and partner with the Merchant City Festival to help deliver what is a highlight of Glasgow’s fantastic calendar of cultural events. The entertainment line-up at this year’s event has something for all the family and we cannot wait to welcome visitors to The Social Hub for some special performances. We believe a better society is created when people with vision and talent come together from all walks of life and the Merchant City Festival will help to establish us at the heart of our new community.”

Visit the Merchant City Festival webpage on the Glasgow Life website to see the full programme and timings.