An introduction for visiting SF folk

A Worldcon needs many things.
Thousands of SF authors, fans and personalities, great hotels, good international access
and, of course, a wonderful city in which to hold it.
Ian Hunter provides an introduction

This article for the 2024 Worldcon updates
the previous one done for the 2005 Worldcon/Eurocon.


Arriving in Glasgow
Getting about Glasgow
Attractions local to the Worldcon
Almost nearby
Fairly local places to eat and drink
Further away from the convention
Glasgow's Science Fiction
Unusual Glasgow


Welcome to Glasgow the largest city in Scotland, a place often referred to as “the second city of the Empire”, meaning the second city of the British Empire because of its shipbuilding prowess on the banks of the River Clyde, and its industrial base.   But other cities in the United Kingdom also lay claim to the title, so better not say “I’ve just been to the Worldcon in the second city of the Empire” if heading down south.

Glasgow is Gaelic for “green glen”, which it probably was back in the days of the origins of the city, when it was a mere settlement over 2,000 years ago, although a major date in the life of Glasgow was its founding by Saint Mungo around 550 AD.   St. Mungo became the Bishop of Strathclyde and his church stood where Glasgow Cathedral now stands next to the impressive Glasgow Royal Infirmary and close to the city’s famous Necropolis which featured in the 2022 film The Batman. If you are going to Glasgow, you have to visit the Necropolis (more of which later).

Speaking of films, the city is a popular destination for film makers, with scenes from films like Cloud Atlas, World War Z, The Flash and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny being shot there, particularly around the city’s impressive George Square (a must for a selfie with its many statues) and the nearby Merchant City.


Scottish Event Campus
Scottish Event Campus. Front right, the OVO Hydro.
Front left, the Armadillo. Centre behind, Scottish Event Campus halls.
Behind the Armadillo is the Crowne Plaza Hotel.


The Worldcon venue
Like previous Worldcons in Glasgow in 1995 and 2005 (which was also a Eurocon), the 2024 event is back at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) and the connected Crowne Plaza Hotel (formerly, when the Worldcon was last here, the Glasgow Moat House) on the North Banks of the River Clyde.  Given the gap in time since the last, 2005, Glasgow Worldcon-Eurocon, these venues have changed, and so has the city.  However, the venue is still ideally situated for getting to know Glasgow as it is next to the Exhibition Centre train station (new since the last Worldcon with trains going into the city centre and Glasgow's Central rail station – see the downloadable rail map), but the Worldcon venue is also a good base for walking to other nearby parts of the City, such as the West End and Finnieston.

Ever since being the host of the Garden Festival in 1998 and back in 1990 , Glasgow was the first UK European Capital of Culture, and a European City of Culture.   It has hosted many other important events such as The 2014 Commonwealth Games and the COP26 climate conference, and more recently the indoors athletics world championships. Glasgow has received many accolades such as being a City of Music, a City of Science and a City of Architecture. In particular the venue for the 2024 Worldcon gives attendees the ability to see the how the city gained accolades in Architecture and Science almost immediately given the proximity of the Glasgow Science Centre (just across the river by footbridge from the Worldcon – see the downloadable area map) and with the University of Glasgow campus and the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, both within walking distance. As far, as music is concerned, Glasgow has a vibrant musical scene with many smaller venues dotted throughout the city, but attending the Worldcon means that you cannot miss two of its major venues a short stone’s throw away from the main Worldcon building, namely the SEC Armadillo (which will be used for the conventions' major events such as the Hugo Awards) and OVO Hydro, easy to spot because of their distinctive designs.


Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery
Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery


Arriving in Glasgow
If you are travelling to Glasgow from other parts of the UK, or from abroad, you are most likely to arrive by plane or train. Glasgow Airport is only about fifteen minutes away from the Worldcon, with buses, taxis, and trains from the nearest station to the airport, Paisley Gilmour Street station available as well.  Depending on flights, you might have landed in Scotland at Glasgow Prestwick airport or Edinburgh Airport, and again, there are bus and train services available to travel on to Glasgow.

Travellers from the North of Scotland or from the East are more likely to arrive in Glasgow at Queen Street station which has been recently refurbished and coming out of the station you will see George Square and the City Chambers.

Travellers coming from the South will arrive at Glasgow Central Station (see downloadable area map), where low-level trains will take you two stops to the Exhibition Centre stop, which is the closest station to the Worldcon.  Emerging from the station you will be confronted by the plastic tunnel stretching over the railway lines and taking you down to the Scottish Event Campus and the Worldcon.


Map of the area around the Worldcon. Downloadable area map here (PDF A4)


Getting about Glasgow
But if you are going to the Worldcon, then Glasgow has a lot of offer, much of it within walking distance, but a train from the Exhibition Centre will take you back into the City Centre and its many attractions, or you could walk towards the West End and hop on the Glasgow Underground, or the 'Clockwork Orange', as it is otherwise known: a good SFnal reference that (see downloadable map of the underground and suburban railways or image below).  No spoilers here, but you will guess why it earned that name when you see it.

For the more adventurous, you can try the Subcrawl, which is a mixture of going on a pub crawl and riding the subway.  Warning: the subway has 15 stops so that might mean 15 pints, or 15 whiskies.  There are several choices of pubs you can visit at certain stops but pubs to try include:  The Lauriston (Bridge Street station),  The Star Bar (West Street station),  Curlers (Hillhead station),  Inn Deep (Kelvinbridge Station),  Jackson's (Cowcaddens station),  and Hootenanny (St. Enoch station).  Other pubs are available, and all of Glasgow life is there to experience.


Metro and sub-urban rail. Downloadable map (PDF A4).


Attractions local to the Worldcon
Worldcon attendees already have a head start in getting to know Glasgow as the SEC is in part of the area known as Finnieston, which has become well known for its visitor attractions and places to eat and drink.  Visitor attractions here include the Glasgow Science Centre with its distinctive tower, Planetarium and IMAX cinema both accessible by a footbridge across the Clyde from the Worldcon and are worth checking out to see what is on the Worldcon week.


Glasgow Science Centre


The Clydeside Distillery is also not far from the Worldcon either, and just west at the junction of the River Clyde and the River Kelvin is, not surprisingly, the Riverside Museum famous for its transport collection.

Somewhere else to visit is The Hidden Lane in Argyle Street which is home to a range of artists, designers as well as a great tearoom. Places to eat and drink include:  The Gannet,  The Finnieston,  Crabbshackk,  Six by Nico,   and Gloriosa.

Glasgow is also blessed with some great Indian restaurants and Finnieston has its fair share including:  Mother India,  The India Quay,   and Chimes of India. There is also the “Highland Triangle” of traditional Scottish pubs nearby with great whisky selections and live music, so seek out: The Ben Nevis Bar,  The Islay Inn  and The Park Bar.   If old-style Scottish pubs aren’t your thing, then fear not, Lewbowskis is just around the corner if you fancy a White Russian and they have a few to choose from.


Almost near-by
The West End consists of several parts of Glasgow which are almost small villages with their own distinctive streets and shops, bars and restaurants. These include Woodlands, Hillhead, Hyndland, and Partick, with several major roads running through the area such as Great Western Road, Byres Road and Woodlands Road, all filled with interesting places to eat and drink, and shop.

Major visitor attractions in the West End include Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Kelvingrove Park, the University of Glasgow, and the Kelvin Hall, if you fancy a spot of climbing.


Fairly local places to eat and drink
You are spoiled for choice for places to eat and drink in West End. Great coffee can be found at Colombian café Andina (1,274 Argyle St), and Kember and Jones (134 Byres Rd), as well as Kelvin Pocket behind the Kelvingrove subway (72 S Woodside Rd) or Papercup (603 Great Western Rd).

For something to go with your coffee you can grab a snack at the Cottonrake Bakery (497 Great Western Rd), Middle East deli bites at Scherezade (47 Bank St), or pastel de nata at Pastéis Lisboa (280 Byres Rd).

The West End has lots of great bars and pubs, including:  Curler’s Rest,  The Aragon Bar,   The Record Factory,  The Old Schoolhouse,  The Three Judges,   and The Sparkle Horse. But you could also add  Inn Deep,  The Arlington,  The Belle,  the Hillhead Bookclub  and  Bananamoon.

However, you can’t drink all the time, so places to eat in the West End include: Paesano(471 Great Western Rd) for pizza,  University Café (87 Byres Rd) for a classic full Scottish breakfast,  El Perro Negro (152 Woodlands Rd) for a great burger, or Serenity Now (380 Great Western Rd) for vegan bites.

Chaakoo, Number 16, Stravaigin, Bothy Glasgow, Ubiquitous Chip, and The Butchershop are all worth a visit.  For pasta, try Te Seba (395 Great Western Rd).   If you like Vietnamese food, then the Hanoi Bike Shop (8 Ruthven Ln) is the place to visit.  For a great selection of wines and some seafood, try Brett.   Ka Pao isn’t the description of some comic book action, but actually means “holy basil” and is the name of a pan-Asian restaurant based in an old garage (26 Vinicombe St).  For vegan and vegetarian food, try Sylvan at 20 Woodlands Rd.  Again, the West End is awash with great Indian restaurants, and two to try are the Little Curry House and Ashoka Ashton Lane, but others are available.


Byres Road


If you are into hunting rare books in the wild, the West End also boasts some great charity and vintage shops. Near the top of Byres Road is the Oxfam Books store (330 Byres Rd) but before you get there you will pass the Oxfam Music Shop, Save the Children also have a shop in Byres Road (171 Byres Rd) and there is also a Shelter boutique shop.

For offbeat and vintage shops, it is worth seeking out Ruthven Lane and De Courcy’s Arcade. For second hand books try Caledonia Books at 483 Great Western Rd.  For new and used records go to Mixed Up in Otago Lane.  If you happen to be in Great Western Road, then the beer shop Valhalla’s Goat is worth a visit as is The Blankfaces for some indie fashion.   Finally, if you want to re-enact the Monty Python 'cheese shop' sketch, head down Byres Road to cheesemonger George Mewes and start an argument.


George Square


Further away from the convention
Further afield, you could visit the City Centre and the city’s civic square, George Square. There you can spot the Council’s City Chambers, you can’t miss it.  In the square, you are surrounded by restaurants and bars.  Not far from the George Square is another square, this time Royal Exchange Square, again a good place to find somewhere to eat, and you can’t miss GOMA – the Gallery of Modern Art – where street artist, Banksy, recently staged an exhibition, choosing Glasgow to host it because of the iconic statue of the Duke of Wellington outside with a traffic cone on his head.

Another building worth seeking out is the Mitchell Library, Europe’s largest public library, which isn’t far from Glasgow’s best real ale pub, The Bon Accord.  There you might lose an afternoon, or two, or week, if you are not careful.

If real ale isn’t your thing, but whisky is, then you’ll find Glasgow’s legendary whisky bar, The Pot Still in Hope Street, which is usually packed with tourists taking pictures of the hundreds of whiskies on offer and taking far too long to study the whisky menu while people like me just want to buy the Malt of the Month.


Pot Still


Not far from the city centre is the Merchant City a place to shop eat and drink. Major visitor attractions to look out for in the area include the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre, the Glasgow Police Museum and the Britannia Panopticon, which is the world’s oldest surviving music hall and where Stan Laurel first performed.

Places to drink include The Spiritualist, Blackfriars bar. For eating, the area has many of the city’s best Indian restaurants and meat eaters should head to The Spanish Butcher where they won’t be disappointed.


Glasgow's Necropolis


Glasgow's Science Fiction
Glasgow's premier speculative writers' group is the Glasgow SF Writers Circle, which is almost 40 years old, and meets in a hybrid format, alternating between fortnightly Zoom meetings and in-person meetings at the Ogilvie Centre, St. Aloysius Church, Rose Street (just up the road from the city's famous Glasgow Film Theatre). Meetings take the form of crit sessions using the Milford method, or write-ins.  The Glasgow Science Fiction and Fantasy Bookgroup meets on the last Wednesday of the month for a coffee and a chat, and there is also the Glasgow Sci-fi/Fantasy and Horror Book Group.  Science fiction, fantasy and horror films regularly appear as part of the Glasgow Film Festival which takes place in February and March each year.  Glasgow and Edinburgh also jointly host the Scotland Loves Animation festival.  Glasgow also has, Satellite, the city's biennial-(ish) series of science fiction conventions which has been running since 2007.

Unusual Glasgow
If you are seeking out the unusual side of Glasgow then the aforementioned Necropolis and the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre are worth a visit, but other unusual sites include the Fossil Grove which contains the fossilised stumps of ancient trees. Wallace’s Well where William Wallace allegedly drank from whenever he passed by.


Statue of Lobey Dosser, the sheriff of Calton Creek.


The Sighthill Stone Circle is a modern riff on an ancient site, aligned with the stars and offering great views of the city. The circle was designed by one of SF² Concatenation's occasional contributors, Duncan Lunan  Back in the West End in Woodlands Road is the statue of Lobey Dosser, the sheriff of Calton Creek, riding a two-legged horse with his archenemy, Rank Bajin, sitting right behind him. These are actually characters created by “Bud” Neill that appeared in the Glasgow Evening Times and The Sunday Mail in the 1940s and 1950s.  The Govan Cat, a stone cat on the facade of Brechin’s Bar in Govan is just one of several stone cats on buildings throughout the city.  This one was in honour of a local cat that took on the fierce local rats, most of which had arrived in the area from trading ships.  Finally, in the Merchant City on the Tron Theatre is the Trongate Cherub, who doesn’t look that angelic, in fact, he seems full of attitude, but then he is from Glasgow after all…

Ian Hunter

If you are coming to Glasgow this summer (2024) and you feel this article is useful then do help promulgate: Facebook alert here. Spread the love (and the BSFA is worthy of your FB attention).

Ian Hunter is one of SF² Concatenation's long-term book and convention reviewers. He is the author of four books for children and is also a short story writer, poet and editor and has lived, and worked in Glasgow, and been educated at two of the city's universities. He is a member of the Glasgow SF Writers Circle, and poetry editor for the British Fantasy Society, and since he clearly suffers from FOMO (fear of missing out), he is also a member of the British Science Fiction Association, the Science Fiction Poetry Associationand the Horror Writers Association. He can be found at, and on X (formerly Twitter) at @ianhunterishere.


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