In case you haven’t heard: Paisley has been named the sole Scottish bidder on the UK City of Culture 2021 shortlist, which means they’re hosting plenty of exciting events in an attempt to showcase everything the town has to offer.
One of the events is the sixth annual Paisley Spree festival, which takes over the town centre from 13-22 October and features a programme full of music, comedy, theatre and more – including an exclusive homecoming charity show from Paolo Nutini, in the Paisley Abbey to back the town’s City of Culture 2021 bid.
All ticket money raised will be donated to five local charities, The Love Street Singers, Mirren Park School, The Kibble Band, the Sunshine Recovery Cafe and some of the town’s Syrian refugee children.
Paisley born Paolo said: “I’ve always wanted to play in the Abbey since I was a wee boy. I’m proud to be a part of The Spree, I’m proud to be from Paisley. Love is music and music is home. Big love people.”
The festival also features a one-off collaboration between Scottish favourites Frightened Rabbit and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in Paisley Abbey. The indie band are the latest Scottish band to team up with the Orchestra in the stunning setting of the 850-year-old Abbey on 17 October for a show which has been a highlight of previous Sprees.
With this being a special year for the town, other highlights of the festival include the specially commissioned shows in support of the bid including: an opening night concert where three Scottish acts (Ross Ainslie, Blue Rose Code and Angus Lyon) and Smita Bellur, Asin Khan Langa and Sawai Khan from India weave together traditional music from both countries; a show celebrating Paisley’s untold story featuring and curated by acclaimed songwriter James Grant, and a literary celebration at a Banks Supper night inspired by Iain Banks’ novel Espedair Street, about a rock band from the town, featuring award-winning author Alan Bissett.
A specially-erected Spiegeltent in the town centre will be the home of much of the action with trad acts Dougie MacLean and Canada’s De Temps Antan playing on 18 October, Breabach, Kris Drever and Talisk performing on 20 October, plus Sharon Shannon and Fara on 15 October.
It’ll also be taken over by the ModStuff celebration of all things Mod, headlined by The Style Councilors, on 21 October.
The Paisley Arts Centre will welcome Emma Pollock and RM Hubbert on 15 October and a gathering of artists from the Lost Map record label, curated by The Pictish Trail on 22 October.
Over at Paisley Town Hall, award-winning disabled choreographer Marc Brew’s BREWBAND, will showcase their fusing together of indie-rock music and dance.
There’s also a strong international theme with an Americana night boasting Boston’s Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards, and opened by England’s Yola Carter, named UK Artist of the Year at the 2017 American Music Association UK Awards.
Aside from the musical aspects of the festival, The Spree features two comedy nights in conjunction with the Gilded Balloon, as well as film events and songwriting workshops, while unsigned musical talent will be given a showcase through the nightly Danny Kyle Open Stage run by Celtic Music Radio.
For those with kids to entertain, the National Theatre of Scotland are bringing their Rocket Post show to town, fresh from a run at the Edinburgh Fringe, while the Big Telly Theatre Company present Operation Paisley – Alien Pursuit, an interactive, town-wide treasure hunt for kids.
Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron said: “The Spree festival is the one of the flagship dates on Paisley’s current events calendar and has gone from strength to strength over the years.
“In the year we are bidding to be UK City of Culture 2021 it is fitting the Spree bill manages at once to be outward-looking and internationally-flavoured, yet also unmistakeably Paisley – showcasing the town’s unique story and giving a platform to some of our fantastic local talent.
“The event again shows Paisley’s ability to host large-scale events featuring some of Scotland’s finest talent, and will attract fans from throughout the country to our unique town centre venues.”
Tickets for all shows are available here.