Merchant City Festival – Where To Go And What To See

The Merchant City Festival returns to Glasgow later this month with nine days of music performances, street art and comedy.


One of the most colourful events of the summer, The Merchant City Festival, returns to Glasgow offering music performances, street art, comedy, a festival within a festival and plenty of foody delights.

The Merchant City Festival is a highlight of the Glasgow festival scene and kicks off on 22 July with a carnival to celebrate Glasgow’s history and heritage, featuring groups from across Glasgow and international performers.

After leaving the Cathedral Precinct at 12pm, the procession winds its way down High Street, towards George Square and the Carpetbag Brigade are working on a special piece for the parade – considering it’s a free event and amazing to watch there’s no excuse to miss this.

After the carnival, we’d recommend heading home for a party nap then getting your dancing shoes on for the Encontro Festival Showcase at the Old Fruitmarket from 7pm – 2am. Celebrating contemporary UK carnival culture, the event (which costs £12 for adults and £8 for concessions) features a selection of the UK’s most exciting carnival bands, including Scotland’s own SambaYaBamba, the specialists in Brazilian-inspired rythms, who are hosting the event.


SambaYaBamba perform at Encontro Festival Showcase


They’re joined by fellow Scottish group, Orkestra del Sol who are a “force of bombastic brass, theatrical flair and roguish humour”. The band recently announced they’re calling it a day at the end of 2017, so don’t miss your chance to see them one last time.

Also entertaining crowds on the night are Juba do Leão, from Manchester, a powerhouse of Pernambucan drums, song and dance who will be showcasing their cheeky Manchester twist and Carnaval Transatlantico, who unite talented players of Rio samba from across the UK and beyond to play the true sound of Rio Carnaval with passion, authenticity and unrivalled creative flair.

There’s so much variety at the festival and plenty of options to keep you entertained – we’d recommend trying your hand at one of the circus skills workshops, working your way through the ‘Dining Street’ options on 23 July and laughing yourself silly watching comedian Susie McCabe explain the hilarity and humour she’s found on the path to health and fitness on 22 July.

Don’t forget there’s also a ‘festival within the festival’. SURGE, Scotland’s leading developer of street art, are hosting their annual festival of physical theatre, street arts and circus on 29 and 30 July in partnership with Merchant City Festival, where they’ll fill the streets and interesting spaces of Glasgow with international performance, street encounters and SURGE masterclasses and workshops.

With shows like The Flower Pot Women, described as “French and Saunders on acid”; intimate theatrical encounters between performers and the public in Dance Wi The De’il; a traditional fairy tale being turned on its head by the Werewomen; and the Loyal Liars’ demonstrating their “brilliance and buffoonery” in Magic Dave’s Mystifyingly Mesmerising Marvellous Magic Show – there’s bound to be something in this unusual mini-festival which will interest you, check out the full programme here.

There’s a lot to take in at the Merchant City 2017 Festival but we’d definitely recommend you head to the Massaoke: Greatest Hits Party. Held at the Old Fruitmarket on 29 July from 7.30-11.45 pm, with tickets ranging from £12 for adults and £10 for concessions, the brilliant live band plays huge anthems, with the lyrics featuring on giant screens so the whole crowd can sing along without having the excuse of being too tipsy to remember the words.


Massaoke: Greatest Hits Party!
Massaoke: Greatest Hits Party!


If you’re a fan of pop, rock and indie from the 80s, 90s and beyond (so we’re guessing that’s pretty much everyone), you’re guaranteed to have a laugh at this big party. Check out the full Merchant City Programme here.

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