TRAVEL: Experience Christmas shopping in Glasgow
They say Glasgow loves Christmas and they're not wrong!
It’s a city rich with festive spirit and so much shopping you’ll really be spoiled for choice while deciding what to buy this year.
For Lancashire residents, Glasgow is also easier to visit than ever before thanks to a generous offer from Virgin Trains.
The Virgin Shopper Ticket means a day return from Preston to Glasgow costs from just £33 or you can treat yourself with an upgrade to first class (from £65).
My friend and I visited in mid-November and found a city already buzzing with pre-Christmas fervour.
On arrival at Glasgow Central after a pleasant train journey, we were quickly plunged deep into the heart of the city centre Style Mile, with 1,500 shops to peruse.
First stop was the Buchanan Galleries arcade and John Lewis - of Moz the Monster Christmas ad fame.
Floors of goods were to be found and not just high-end designer brands, but plenty of bargains too.
My friend was on the look-out for a new gadget so the Apple store on bustling Buchanan Street was next stop.
This 1840s listed building full of modern gizmos is typical of how architecturally, Glasgow is seamless in its blend of new and old.
Another example is a former bank on nearby West George Street, since 2016 the home to the fledgling Shilling Brewery Co.
Glasgow has a centuries-old history of brewing fine beers and as the first to bring the growing brewpub industry to the city centre, Shilling’s products are a shining example of the art.
They brew on the premises – an ultra-swish £1.6m 160-seater pub – and their team of passionate and knowledgeable staff clearly know their ales inside out.
A friendly tour of its small brewing area and an education in how hops, yeast, water and crops combine to create frothy goodness will cost you just £10 – which includes four sample-sized craft beers thrown in.
This means you can enjoy the variety of Shilling’s sharp Citra Salvo pale ale and the caramel taste of its Glasgow Red, which we recommend you try alongside one of their crispy and well-topped pizzas.
Back out into the city centre evening feeling full and a little hazy from our experience as amateur beer conoisseurs, it was time to check in at the Hampton by Hilton hotel on West Campbell Street, where the service, room and buffet-style breakfast were all first class.
We received the kind of welcome that is typical of the city. They say that ‘People Make Glasgow’ and this definitely rang true with everybody we met.
Shopping continued the following morning, with a visit list including House of Fraser on Buchanan Street, the St Enoch shopping centre with its famous Disney store and Hamleys toy shop (great for the kids) and the sparkling Argyll Arcade, Europe’s oldest shopping mall known as the Hatton Garden of Scotland.
Wandering through this window parade of designer jewellery stores with their jaw-dropping price labels definitely acted as a reminder of how the other half lives!
While fans of big-name stores will fall in love with Glasgow, there is also a plethora of one-off speciality shops to be found off the beaten track of the Style Mile.
Culture buffs will find enough to keep the mind occupied at the city’s many museums and galleries, each with an exclusive gift shop offering more than just an obligatory pen and postcard.
You also can’t visit Glasgow at this time of year without checking out the Christmas markets.
While purists might think mid-November is too early to celebrate the season, a quick tour of St Enoch Square’s festive wonderland will quickly soften even the hardest-faced Scrooge. It’s everything you could want in a Christmas market - handcrafted goods, delicious food stalls, everything from cashmere scarves to German Chocolate Kiss cakes, and of course, a chalet where you can take the weight off your feet with a beverage hot or cold.
The magic of Christmas can also be found in George Square where a unique advent calendar opens a new door each day to reveal a special gift.
Extended hours means shopping can continue into the darkness. And Glasgow also has a full programme of entertainment to enjoy, whether it’s at venues like the SECC or The Hydro near the banks of the Clyde, or one of its theatreland’s many pantomimes.
Glasgow is just an amazing place to visit. One of my favourite cities and especially so at this time of year.
The Virgin Trains Christmas shopper festive fares to Glasgow apply until January 7 2018. See HERE.
For more on what Glasgow has to offer at Christmas see HERE . Our thanks to Glasgow Life.
LOOK OUT FOR
The Glasgow Style Mile Carnival: Sunday, November 26, 2.30pm; a magical procession of characters bringing music, dance and spectacle to the heart of Glasgow.
The Santa Dash: Sunday, December 10, watch or take part as thousands of Santas pound the streets for good causes.