It’s Carnival time in Glasgow! The West End Festival is in full swing till Sunday 30 June. Refugee Week Scotland starts on Monday 17 June. The Merchant City showcase events are gearing up for July.
And – as with the Mela opening day on Saturday 15 June and the Southside Festival last month – rain, even heavy rain, does not spoil the fun.
Glaswegians certainly know how to have a good time. The opening Mardi Gras parade in the West End was a splendid, colourful and fascinating sight. Tribute has to be paid to those who walked and danced the distance from the Botanic Gardens down Byres Road, along in front of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and into the Kelvingrove Park – especially if they were wearing killer heels, pushing friends in wheelchairs or making music on some of the heavy drums.
But if you’ve missed that, don’t worry. There is a multitude of events still to enjoy. Everything from classical music to jazz and latest techno mix; theatrical performances to attract children or critical Thespians; and community shows and gatherings in abundance including sports events.
And not all occasions of interest are attached to formal festivals. Look out for a formal Druid ceremony at the Sighthill Stone Circle on Friday 21 June; or Govanhill Baths Community Trust’s annual general meeting on Wednesday 26 June; the Gambians in Scotland event on Saturday 29 June or the Crypt Ceilidh that same night with music from the world renowned John Carmichael ceilidh band.
But of course, don’t let such hedonistic delights deflect from the serious business of lodging protests against different planning issues!
Informally dressed they may be, but this is the world leading Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band in public rehearsals in Kelvingrove Park today, preparing for the World Pipe Band Championships on Glasgow Green tomorrow (Saturday 11 August 2012). Last year they came first in every major competition they entered including the ‘Worlds’.
Around 8000 pipers, drummers and performers are expected to take part in the ‘Worlds’ which have been associated with Glasgow for 70 years. They’ll bring with them an audience of at least 40,000 and will create a spectacle that is difficult to match.
From County Antrim, the Field Marshal Montgomery pipers were checked individually by Pipe Major Richard Parkes MBE (pictured centre) as part of their intense concentration on the quality of their sound. That kind of scrutiny while being watched by a crowd, is all part of the discipline of a pipe band.
Even if you’re not partial to the sound of the great Highland bagpipe, it is worth a visit to Glasgow Green tomorrow to watch the style and the dedication of skilled musicians from all parts of the world. Truly a memorable day out.
Sunglasses and saris replaced wellies and waterproofs at the o2 Mela in Kelvingrove Park on Sunday 24 June as the monsoon like weather of Saturday change to sunshine.
More than 25,000 revellers refused to let the damp conditions spoil a fun-filled weekend. Festival-goers and families of every age and ethnicity enjoyed the music and dance at this Asian carnival.
A spectacular line-up of international performers delighted the crowds on three stages. Scotland’s biggest multi-cultural festival has gone from strength to strength. This year Glasgow Life added an extra day when the entertainment was specially programmed for 3,000 city schoolchildren. Ten Glasgow schools rehearsed with professional dancers for seven weeks, to produce a final performance in front of their peers on the World Stage on Friday.
The O2 Glasgow Mela showcased one of the hottest new female talents on the Asian music scene – Avina Shah – who delights fans of modern Bollywood and Rnb/pop, as well as devotees of the more traditional Punjabi and Gujarati styled music. This versatile performer took her audience on a memorable musical journey, kick-starting her performance with her debut single, the upbeat ‘Tere Bina’.
After an eight-song set Avina said: ‘I was so excited about performing for the first time in Glasgow. The reputation of Glasgow audiences is well known and the crowd were brilliant. They were very welcoming, in fact their dancing entertained me, I only hope I entertained them too. My final song, my new single ‘Dil Deewana’, is about letting your hair down, about having fun. The people of Glasgow certainly showed they know how to do that. It’s been great fun and I’d love to come back.’
Later on Sunday, award-winning Bhangra singer JK performed for the first time in Scotland with his sensational live band.
On Saturday the exceptional Bhangra star Angrej Ali and his live band electrified the O2 Glasgow Mela crowds with their unique brand of Punjabi folk and traditional music, which was fused with an exciting urban sound. From classic hits Tharti Hilde and Phattey Chak to dance floor smash Nachdi De, Angrej Ali delighted fans old and new with his renowned singing style.
International dance acts added colour and energy to the proceedings. The Electricat Dance Troupe amazed with their display of Brazilian dances. The Afro-Latino influences delivered a contemporary and powerful style. This truly spectacular extravaganza of pulsating rhythms, sinuous movements and colourful feathers and sequins really impressed the O2 Glasgow Mela audiences.
The Kennedy Cupcakes offered an alternative dance show when they performed showstopping routines to 40’s and 50’s hits such as ‘Boogie Woogie Boy’ and ‘In the Mood’. The Kennedy Cupcakes were dressed in the finery of the times. They added a touch of vintage glamour to the proceedings and had the audience eating out of their hands. While the Kawa Musical Circus mystified those watching with rope walking and an incredible human ‘helicopter’ acrobatic stunt some 20 feet in the air.
Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life said: ‘In its 22nd year, the O2 Glasgow Mela continues to be the brightest and best festival to showcase Scotland’s multi-cultural talents and rich heritage of which this city is so proud.’
Gosia Manka, Channel Marketing Manager at O2 said: ‘O2 were delighted to be a part of the cultural extravaganza at the O2 Glasgow Mela again this year. We hope the many attendees of the event had a great time and came to visit the O2 international bus and camper van to make free international calls to friends and family. ‘
Forestry Commission Scotland was a Mela partner and developed a first-class Kid’s Zone, programmed by Glasgow-based artist Joanne Boyce. This offered a wealth of activities to tempt little ones to get creative in the park. For the first time ever, there was a 10m by 10m synthetic ice rink at the event which was free to enjoy. This proved to be a welcome addition for all ages.
Musicians, dance acts and interactive arts performers came from across the Commonwealth to performat this festival . There was also an eclectic mix of more than 50 stalls. From exotic foods, fashion and fabrics and arts and crafts to activities such as henna, hair braiding and face painting. The crowds definitely didn’t go hungry – the smells and tastes of international cuisine from the exotic to the everyday provided temptation at every turn.
Since its launch during Glasgow’s 1990 European City of Culture celebrations, the O2 Glasgow Mela has grown to become the leading festival of its kind in the country. In addition to three main stages (World, Commonwealth and Mehfil) the festival also featured an ice rink, street theatre, a Kids Zone and authentic stalls and catering.
The 02 Mela started with a splash on Saturday 23 June when the heavens opened as the major Asian styled, two-day festival got underway in Kelvingrove Park.
In the dry, sunny moments just before then, photographer Ian McIntyre caught some of the musicians as they were rehearsing on one of the three stages at the event. Ironically, this stage wasn’t allowed to operate when the rain descended. But the other two went ahead with their scheduled performances despite tiny audiences huddling under brollies patiently listening to their favourite Bollywood and Bhangra and other stars.
Apart from the Forestry Commission’s play space for children which was covered and busy with crafty little ones making things, having their faces painted and lapping up story-telling sessions, the rest of the park was awash with water and devoid of people till well into the afternoon.
A few brave folk scurried about under umbrellas but most of the stall holders sat glumly with tents full of unsold, lovely goods. Things brightened up mid afternoon when the rain stopped and some of the anticipated 20,000 visitors braved the elements to explore the multitude of stalls, events and entertainments.
Similar wet weather is forecast for Sunday. But it won’t stop the music.
Saturday 31 March will be the Grand Opening Day for Kelvingrove Square Gardens. From 12 noon till 3pm the little cultivated area outside the gates of Kelvingrove Park at Kelvingrove Street, will be alive with stalls, and music and people talking.
Mosaics designed by children from the nearby Gaelic School have been placed in the main patio area and several more are planned for other locations around the square.
The Square was taken under the wing of local residents when they considered it was lying neglected and unloved. With a lot of guerrilla gardening and dialogue with the Council, eventually support was found and the patch of green was improved. Now it is used as community space and has a ‘Friends of…’ group which has its annual general meeting scheduled for next month (see community notices)
Hillhead Primary School children rallied for Fairtrade by taking a colourful, noisy and good nature walk through the Kelvingrove Park today (Friday 9 March)
Like a West End Festival troupe, with banners and costumes, chants and whistles, posters and hats more than 700 youngsters let the world know this was Fairtrade fortnight. Said Head Teacher Francis Donaghy: ‘It was a fantastic celebration by the children, staff and parents of the school’s commitment to Fairtrade. This was the culmination of a range of activities designed to promote awareness of Fairtrade.’
Commented Helena Cardwell whose daughter Katie (6) was one of the marchers: ‘They’ve been tasting and trying things for two weeks. It has certainly raised awareness. Katie is saying we’ll need to watch what we buy at the supermarket now!’
Glasgow’s largest primary school’s first ever Fairtrade Fortnight Parade will set off for Kelvingrove Park on Friday 9 March from their Otago Street base.
More than 700 pupils, staff and parents from Hillhead Primary School, including Kelvin Park Early Years Centre, will demonstrate their support for the ideals of Fairtrade with the march and rally.
Said Head Teacher Francis Donaghy: ‘It’s a big event for us and everyone involved is really excited and looking forward to it. It’s going to look fantastic. We have Fair Trade status as a school. On the parade the children will be carrying banners, holding placards, wearing tabards, waving flags, singing songs and generally making a lot of noise.
The rally will leave the West End school at 2pm. Three different routes will be used by different groups of children and they will all meet up about 45 minutes later at a central point in the park.
The new school has been green from the start with a unique turf roof to show its good ecology credentials.
Occupy Glasgow campaigners who want to change the world have left George Square. They have moved, with agreement of Glasgow City Council to space in Kelvingrove Park off Kelvin Way.
Said a Council spokesman: ‘It was essential the camp vacated George Square in order to allow Glasgow to properly observe Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday. The council entered into negotiations to resolve that situation and, as always, this required all parties to make some concessions. We are pleased that George Square will be able to host Glasgow’s Armistice and Remembrance Day observances – and that the ongoing presence of the camp will not disrupt our programme of festive events, Glasgow Loves Christmas. Any costs associated with accommodating the camp at Kelvingrove Park will be minimal compared with those the council already faced to enforce an eviction order or deal with disruption to events in George Square.’ He added: ‘We’ve been seeking a negotiated settlement right from the start. We’ve always said we respect people’s right to make their voices heard. The site they move to allows them to maintain a presence while minimising disruption to the people of Glasgow.’
A statement is awaited from the Occupy Glasgow people.
By Seneiya Kamotho
With Sandra White, the Scottish National Party MSP determinedly leading the way, a 15,000-strong procession of people resolutely marched through the streets of Glasgow on Saturday 1 October in solidarity against the UK Government’s cuts to public spending and campaigning for the protection of those hardest hit by them.
The march from Glasgow Green to Kelvingrove Park was part of a campaign spearheaded by the Scottish Trades Union Congress in partnership with equality, campaign, faith and anti-poverty organisations.
A sample of views revealed the deep despair of the marchers and their collective hope that the Government would reconsider its draconian job and services cuts.
Said Lorraine Leed: ‘I have been a teacher for over 30 years and it is heart-wrenching to witness the callous way in which such long-serving, conscientious members of society are being unsympathetically discarded as a result of this policy. It is an ultimate betrayal by Government of the people it is meant to serve.’
Kenneth Kilbride of the Prison Service agreed: ‘These cuts mean that prisoners will only receive basic services and not the much-needed specialist mental and psychological care.’
Said Charles Atangana from Cameroon: ‘New comers are also badly affected. English classes and interpretation options for asylum seekers and refugees, whose first language is not English, will be scrapped if public spending is cut. Black and ethnic minority people will suffer the most; how do they read their official letters; interact with banking and other public service institutions; how do their children learn the English they need for school; how do asylum seekers interact with their English-speaking lawyers and judges? The cuts work against the Government’s integration policies.’
The passion of the marchers against the cuts was palpable. The event culminated peacefully but poignantly with a speech by Tony Benn, Labour politician and former MP and Cabinet Minister.
Because of the continuous rain on the day, many people planning to speak, did not do so. One of them was Rev. Ian Galloway, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland who is minister at Gorbals Parish Church.
In his blog he details the speech he would have made.
‘When the rich go on getting richer, and the poor go on getting poorer, and nothing – nothing – in government policy is designed to change that – it’s time for people from churches to stand beside people from unions, to stand beside people from disability groups, to stand beside people from right across Scotland and say that this is an offence against the kind of society and that we want to be part of.
‘Of course,’ said Ian Galloway: ‘Some people think they come first because of their wealth, their status, their position, or their antecedents. Their deep desire is to stay first. That’s why we have millionaires making up the Cabinet, trying to get their own taxes cut and telling us that we can’t afford poor people. The Bible says that when there are resources to be shared out, everyone should get enough. And everyone can get enough.
‘By this march we exercise our choice to say no to the same old business as usual. It is time to make other choices. It is time to put some other people first. Scotland has a proud record of caring for all of its people. We should not cease in our efforts to put people first and the ideology of market forces last.’
Today, a handful of students managed to get into the Collins building on Strathclyde University Campus and occupy the ‘posh’ board room used by Senate meetings and the like.
‘This is a peaceful occupation,’ said spokesman Ramy Albanna. ‘We are doing this to claim freedom of access, to highlight the hike in fees for students coming here from England and to express our concern at the closure of Community Education, Sociology, Geography and even Music course.’
We will be marching with the STUC and many other people on Saturday 1 October in the People First march from Glasgow Green to a rally in Kelvingrove Park. Because of that, we told the University we’d be out by Saturday.’
Security personnel at the University shut down the Collins Building in a bid to prevent numbers swelling. Two police officers arrived around 2pm after a number of protesters attempted to gain access to the building via a side entrance.
The neighbouring McCance Building in which Strathclyde senior management is housed, including the Principal’s office, was closed to students following the occupation which started around 11.30am onThursday 29 September.
The move comes two days after Strathclyde University announced plans to charge students from England, Northern Ireland and Wales £9,000 a year from the next academic year, taking the cost of a four-year degree to £27,000 after a cap was imposed.
At 4.30pm the University issued a brief statement saying: ‘A small number of protesters are holding a sit-in in one of the University’s administration buildings. The impact is localised and the University is working to minimise disruption.’
When it was pointed out that police were involved and indeed this website had pictures, the response was a promise to get more information.
University of Strathclyde Students’ Association president Charandeep Singh is understood to be in discussions with Principal Professor Jim McDonald.
The People First march and rally on Saturday will be led by the STUC but incorporates a large number of faith groups as well as campaigners in a large number of equality and anti-poverty organisations.
After speeches and music in Kelvingrove Park, groups will disperse to places of worship, student unions, public buildings and hotel in the vicinity to address specific issues.
The day will also feature fund raising for the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal on the famine in Africa.
The day will challenge poverty levels and campaign for re-distribution of wealth across Scotland and the UK. People will also be campaigning to protect the hardest hit by service and benefit cuts and to build and re-connect communities and movements across the country.
Strathclyde University’s fees are now set at £9000 a year for undergraduates from the rest of the UK outwith Scotland. Glasgow University fees are set at £6750 and capped at £26,000 for a four year degree course. The annual fee for Scottish students studying at Scottish universities – which is effectively paid for by the Scottish Government – is unchanged at £1800.
Charandeep Singh, of the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association said: ‘We oppose all student fees and anything that could lead to the commercialisation of higher education. ‘The University Court had a chance to show leadership by minimising the impact of fees at Strathclyde. Instead they have chosen to charge the highest possible fees, proving that they are motivated purely by profit.’