This year’s Merchant City Festival has proved to be a massive success, with around 70,000 people coming out in force to enjoy the diverse range of exciting events.
Taking place from July 22-25, the event boasted a diverse line-up, with four days packed full of theatre, music food, outdoor performance, visual arts, dance and fashion.
Those who went along could enjoy everything from Bollywood dancing to acrobatic displays, as well as outdoor events from the Surge Festival, with several world and UK premieres from both national and international acts.
Events were staged in locations dotted all over the cultural hub that is the Merchant Square, from the stunning Merchant Square and cutting-edge newly renovated Briggait – the original 1873 building which once was the old fish market – to performances on the street.
This was the first time in the festival’s nine-year history that it was held in the summer, moving from its previous slot in September – a decision that was taken to allow the popular event to continue to run seamlessly alongside other which are being held in the city.
Councillor Gordon Matheson, the leader of Glasgow City Council and chair of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “This is the ninth year of the Merchant City Festival, which previously took up a slot at the end of September. The decision was taken earlier this year to move the event to the summertime for two main strategic reasons - firstly, to ensure the festival slot coincides with the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Moving the dates four years out gives us time to fully establish Merchant City Festival as a summer event and integrate its programming with that of the Games.
“Secondly, Glasgow is already very busy at the end of September. The World Parkinson Congress comes to Glasgow this year with delegates arriving from 26th September to attend the conference from the 28th to October 1, which takes up the same slot the Merchant City Festival previously occupied. Every business knows that you don’t put two major events on at the same time, and we already have around 3,000 conference delegates descending on the city at that time when accommodation is in shorter supply. Moving the festival is an example of effective diary-planning of the city to ensure maximisation of visitor numbers and economic impact.”
The new summer slot presented various challenges, including a smaller timeframe in which to organize the programming of the festival, as well as estimated reduced numbers of visitors due to people going away on summer holidays, and Cllr Matheson said the figure of 70,000, which exceeded the estimated number of 65,000, was “exceptional”.