Top Things To Do in The West End

By Tracy Mukherjee

Photo by Ross Sneddon 

Do you know I had to question myself considering Top Things for Jan/Feb 2024.  2024?  Sounds like something from Buck Rodgers in the 21st Century!  How can we possible be here?  Well, Ding Dong and a very Happy New Year!  For here we are with yet another edition of Top Things.  So put down that self-improvement guide, 10 days to a new you or brand-new wellbeing and gratitude journal and read on…

Top for All-Embracing Music

I don’t know what it is about Celtic Connections that makes me feel totes emosh.  I think that the inclusion of so many musical genres – folk, traditional, jazz, world, latin – and that’s just to start, makes me so proud of this Glasgow annual outing.  It’s very much a metaphor for our wee West End – eclectic, inclusive and vibrant! 

It’s a belter this year.  Opening night sees Chris Thile, singer songwriter, composer and only “the best mandolin player in the world” according to Billboard Magazine. His styles are wide-ranging: bluegrass, contemporary folk, country and jazz. The opening event sees Thile with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, staging the European premiere of “Attention” his new symphonic work.  Accompanying is one of Scotland’s most beautiful voices, Rachel Sermanni. The Scottish singer-songwriter is an accomplished folk musician, influenced by a multitude of musical styles and is therefore the perfect choice for the opening night of Celtic Connections.  

Other highlights during the festival include Raveloe at the Hug and Pint. Under the skilled talents of singer-songwriter Kim Grant, this is Kim’s first solo venture.  “Raveloe” comes from the name of the hometown in the novel “Silas Marner” and like the weaver in the story, Grant uses music to weave a journey through sound.  With critics comparing Kim to talents including PJ Harvey, this is set to be an extraordinary event.  

What would Celtic Connections be without the spectacle that is Blazin’ Fiddles? Always a huge highlight, the guys return to Celtic Connections to set the stage alight, if you’ll pardon the pun.  25 years after their first “one-off” tour, the group’s performance comes as their 10th album XXV is released.  With the glorious tones of Anna Massie and Angus Lyon accompanying the main four fiddles, this is such a fantastic opportunity to revel in Scottish music at it’s best.  

Celtic Connections 18th Jan – 4th Feb
various venues city-wide     

Top for Comedy

I remember a time when writing January/February Top Things had scant pickings.  Now there is something in the air.  For as well as an amazing annual music festival, film festival (more on that to come), the comedy scene has gone crazy!  Spoiled for choice, here is a little taster of what’s on at The Stand Comedy Club. Urooj Ashfaq not only appeared on Radio 4’s “Just A Minute” (I know, comedy 101), she also won the Edinburgh Comedy Awards Best Newcomer.  A pretty good pedigree for a psychology graduate from Mumbai on her very first UK tour.  So what about her show “Oh No”?  “I think you should ask YOURSELF why you insist on knowing everything. Why don’t you just show up for the thing, be surprised, and go with the flow?” says Urooj!!!!  

Also nominated for an Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2023, Janine Harouni appears at the Stand in Feb with her show Man’oushe.  If you have ever been lucky enough to catch Janine’s stand up, you’ll already know this will be a great night.  With a 5-star rating from The Times, Man’ouche explores pregnancy and “what happens when your mail order DNA test does not go to plan”.  Finally on the comedy round-up Ania Magliano hilarious “I Can’t Believe You’ve Done This”.  Another Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee, comedy writer, her stand-up show recounts the worst haircut of her life.  Such was the critical acclaim of the show it was a sell out in Edinburgh, and in both London’s Soho and Leicester Square Theatres.  Side splittingly funny, don’t miss this one.  It’s a corker.

Photo – Matthew Jungling

The Stand Comedy Club,
Woodlands Road
Urooj Ashfaq “Oh No” 
Wednesday 24th January

Janine Harouni

Wed 7th February

Ania Magliano
“I Can’t Believe You’ve Done This”
Thursday 15th February  

Top for Burns Supper

The Hilton Glasgow is pulling out all the stops for Burns Night with a couple of events to look out for.  Returning in aid of Beatson Cancer Charity on Thursday 19th, is The Bard and his Belles Burns Supper.  A fizzy drinks reception, 3-course meal, guest speakers and of course A CEILIDH, it’s an incredibly fun night in aid of an incredibly good cause. 

On the 25th itself, A Question of Burns is back in aid of Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland.  Hosted by rugby legend Andy Nicol and with a Toast to the Lassies by none other than Sanjeev Kohli, there will also be an immersive performance of “Tam O’Shanter” by Rabbie Burns re-enactor Chris Tait. With the “Address to a Haggis” given by the renowned Kevin Brown, this couldn’t be a more classic Burns Supper.  

The Bard and his Belles Burns Supper
Friday 19th January
Hilton Glasgow
William Street

A Question of Burns
Thursday 25th January
Hilton Glasgow 
William Street

Top For Cinema
photo – Felix Mooneeram

Can you believe that The Glasgow Film Festival has had 20 outings? Whilst the final programme is still being finalised, there are some truly exciting events planned.  Did you know that the GFT was formally known as the Cosmo cinema?  Opening in 1939, it became the Glasgow Film Theatre in 1974.  So we have a very special birthday to celebrate Westenders!  The GFT turns 50!  Glasgow Film Theatre is Scotland’s most popular independent Cinema and to mark this milestone the film festival has some pretty special events organised.  Well, the Cinema is the beating heart of the Glasgow Film Festival, so it’s only right.  The festival itself will yet again bring to Glasgow the very best of Scottish film as well as a programme which celebrates the diversity of filmmaking the world over.  I can’t wait to see the programme!

The Glasgow Film Festival
28th Feb – 10th March
Various Venues

Best of the Rest

DO NOT MISS the monumentally talented David Hayman in Cyprus Avenue at the Pavilion Theatre from 26th Feb – 2nd March.
An absolute must is Alan Cummings in Not Acting His Age at the SEC Armadillo on 20th January

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