Arts & Culture

West End Festival kicks off three weeks of h-utter fun amid plea for cash backing

By Ian Marland at

S cotland’s largest community festival, the West End Festival (WEF), kicks off today amid calls for more public and business support.

Artist and hut designer Adrian Wiszniewski was on hand at the launch of the Ideal Hut Show in the Botanic Gardens, which is coming to the West End event as part of the Festival of Architecture 2016.

The West End Festival runs from Friday 3 to Sunday 26 June.

But with no Festival Sunday kicking off the festivities this year because of spiralling costs, a £50,000 fundraising appeal has already been launched to help resurrect the opening carnival next year.

Festival organisers have stressed that as the festival is a charity and run by volunteers the community needs to work together to help bring back the much loved day, normally held on the opening weekend of the festival.

The Ideal Hut Show at The Botanic Gardens kicks off the 2016 West End Festival. Pictured  Adrian Wiszniewski , artist and designer of one of the huts in the exhibition and Liz Scobie chairman of the West End Festival. Photograph by Martin Shields  Tel 07572 457000 www.martinshields.com © Martin Shields
Opener: The Ideal Hut Show at The Botanic Gardens kicks off the 2016 West End Festival. Pictured Adrian Wiszniewski, artist and designer of one of the huts in the exhibition and Liz Scobie chairman of the West End Festival. Photograph by Martin Shields

Liz Scobie, festival chairwoman, said the only way the popular opening carnival would return was with more community support.

“It’s a hugely popular free event, possibly the biggest free event in Glasgow’s calendar. Police estimates of attendees are 100,000, and everybody loves it. There is certainly an appetite for it.

“It’s always a family-friendly environment and the police love it.

“We are Scotland’s largest community festival, and I think we are now appealing to the community, both the business community and the public, to support us.”

As the WEF celebrates its 21st anniversary, Glasgow favourites Belle and Sebastian celebrate their 20th anniversary with a special line-up of events throughout the festival month, including screenings at the Grosvenor Cinema and gigs at Oran Mor and the GUU.

Billy Ocean Pic 1 copy 2
Soul: Singer Billy Ocean is among the musical offerings at this year’s West End Festival.

The Kelvingrove Bandstand will also play host to some special music events including Glasgow Life presents the Summer Arts Community Stage and the West End Festival Fiesta.

Local gala days include the Gibson Street Gala on June 19, Vinicombe Street party on June 5, Wilton Street Garden Fete on June 11 and Queen Margaret Drive on June 5. Queen Margaret Drive will also hold its Big Lunch on June 12.

Glasgow Fiddle Workshop will hold its annual outdoor ceilidh on Sunday June 12 at Kelvingrove Art Gallery – last year over 200 people attended.

As always, the WEF features a great line-up of singing events, including City of Glasgow Chorus presents Come and Sing on Saturday June 4 at Hyndland Parish Church and The Mackintosh Choir – Sing into summer on Sunday June 19 at St. John’s –Renfield Church.

Liz said: “Our 21st anniversary programme is truly fantastic, with over 400 events in over 80 venues across the west end of Glasgow.

“Of course, this year we’re disappointed not to have our annual Festival Sunday on Byres Rd featuring the Mardi Gras parade, however, we launched our fundraising campaign for members of the public and local businesses to donate to help bring back Festival Sunday next year. We aim to reach £50,000 by March 2017.”

Michael Dale, festival director, added: “Who can believe it’s been a continuation of wonderful summer events since 1996! I have fond memories of the first Belle and Sebastian concert we ran in the Botanic Gardens in 2004!

“This is a special year for us but it’s also fairly significant in the way we look to run a sustainable community event going forward.

“The Ideal Hut Show is a fantastic major travelling exhibition which will run throughout the festival in the Botanic Gardens. We’re excited to see what the designers and architects have come up with!”

The quirky installation includes 18 garden sheds, transformed by top architects and designers from across the UK including Kelpies designer Andy Scott.

Other highlights include a tartan hut and an ‘exploded axonometric’ which is just as dramatic as it sounds. The hut by the late David Mackay (1933 – 2014) is a very poignant reflection on the refugee crisis.