BT on tour: Celtic Connections

It seems the tag line, People Make Glasgow is actually true, as within minutes of arriving in the City centre on our trip with the People Make Glasgow team, I was taking photos and getting photobombed by some enthusiastic Glaswegians.


Our visit coincided with the Celtic Connections festival and we had a full itinerary organised to enjoy the music and culture of this great city and to celebrate its Celtic connections.

During our three days, I made quite a few observations linking Belfast with our neighbours in Scotland, I’ll mention them as I go along.

After our 30 minute FlyBe flight from Belfast which apparently was very choppy, I wouldn’t know, as I slept the whole flight. But when you land and your travel partner says that was really scary I was disappointed to miss the excitement!


Our hotel for the 2 night trip, the newly opened Ibis Style on Miller Street, was in a central location just off George Square and the famous cone head, The Duke. It seems the cone on the Duke of Wellington has become an iconic image of Glasgow, with it being used on numerous souvenirs and posters around the city. Even our hotel room had a huge image behind the bed. 

The Duke in Ibis Style accomapnied by Irn Bru and a Tunnocks Teacake

Our first stop was brunch in the Butterfly and Pig. these old tea rooms were like stepping back in time into a Victorian home. The perfect location to experience an authentic afternoon tea, although on this occasion I got stuck in to some French Toast. 


From there we headed out in the torrential rain on a Glasgow Music Tour. Starting at the Clutha pub, the site of the tragic helicopter crash in 2013, we were shown the new mural depicting famous Glaswegian musical acts and it was an interesting start to our walking tour as I didn’t know Billy Connolly had been in a band, The Humblebums!


En route to Barrowlands, we were led in through a set of unassuming doors and up a staircase with the smells of an old building very evident in the air. Opening out in front of us at the top of the stairs was the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall.


Built in 1857, the music hall is the world’s oldest and has hosted many world famous acts, but also through the years, freak shows, a zoo, waxworks and much more. In 1906 on amateur night, a young Stan Laurel appeared on stage for the first time. Of course, he went on to be part of the famous Laurel and Hardy comedy duo, who have also performed on stage at the Grand Opera House in Belfast! 

We were amazed to hear about its history and by the wonderful Judith Bowers who has taken custody of this iconic music hall and her passion for its history shines through with every word she speaks. I wouldn’t want to ruin the experience by revealing some of the history of the building, that will be something you’ll have to hear yourself when you visit.


Visiting the theatre was a highlight of the Glasgow Music tour for me. And I got to play a piano over 100 years old, just those old classics, The Entertainer and Fur Elise.


Our tour was a condensed version of the full tour, but was throughly enjoyable, even in the rain. We ended by heading towards the very famous Barrowlands venue, a place brought back in to use after Simple Minds used it to film a video in the 80’s. From that point on, the once closed building was reopened and has since hosted hundreds of gigs, including 2 by the one and only David Bowie. Many of the artists who have performed there are featured on the Barrowlands Walk of Fame just down the road from the venue.

Next stop was a visit and tour of the Drygate brewery. If you love your craft beers then this is the place to visit in Glasgow. Located at Wellpark in the East End, and 10 minutes walk from George Square. The small team of dare I say, ‘hipsters’ make craft beer on site in a venue that also boasts a beer hall and an award winning restaurant.


I’m not a beer kind of guy, I’ve been trying them for 30 years now, always curious to taste what I’m missing out on, but with no success! But the rest of our group thoroughly enjoyed drinking my four glasses.  


With plenty of beer tasting and a great meal later, it was off to see Eddi Reader perform with the Scottish Jazz Orchestra supported by Belfast’s Grainne Holland. 

I saw Eddi at the Lyric Theatre last year, and knew we were in for a treat. The bizarre combination of Eddie, Burns music and Jazz was very unique and I’m not sure it matched up to the superb Lyric gig, review here , but Eddie is a bruilliant artist to see live. A proper Glaswegian character! Eddi will be in the Lyric Theatre this Valentine’s night, I can only imagine the great banter from her that night!


That was a lot to pack in to one day, and thoroughly shattered, it was time to retire to our Ibis Style hotel and prepare for a busy second day. 
Read more about that tomorrow as we visit some awesome museums, relive our early years and I take the opportunity to visit family. Oh and let’s not forget our eventful Burns Night Supper!

Jeff Meredith


Flight info:

• Flybe currently offers a choice of up to five flights daily from George Best Belfast City Airport to Glasgow Airport.

• Departing at 07.00 and with the last returning flight at 20.25 allows for maximum time in Glasgow for a day trip or weekend away.

• Lead-in fares for a single journey start at £27.99 including taxes and charges.

• For more information log onto

• Located 8 miles from the city centre, airport buses run from the airport every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day and take approximately 25 minutes.

Post Author: Belfast Times

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