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Live Music Venues

Scotland has a wealth of great live music venues from stadium gigs to small pubs the range of live music available is second to none.  I had the pleasure of seeing Prince perform live at the Hydro in 2014 which was truly amazing, such a talented individual and the atmosphere was electric.  So the question is best venues and best gigs in Scotland? 


  • VisitScotlandAngelaVisitScotlandAngela Member, Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    I love going to the smaller music venues as I think they have an awesome atmosphere.  I think that perhaps one of the best gigs I have been to was at the Aberdeen Music Hall when Travis played there in 1999.   I also saw Idlewild at the Glasgow Barrowlands last November.  That too was amazing!!!

  • VisitScotlandJulieVisitScotlandJulie Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    Visiting Sandy Bell's pub (in Edinburgh's Old Town) is a joy for fans of traditional Scottish live music. It's a tiny venue with great atmosphere. In the 1960s it was at the centre of the folk music revival in the UK and is still a great place to catch some informal live music.

    Also seeing Leonard Cohen perform in 2008 outside Edinburgh Castle has to be my all-time favourite Scottish gig. What a backdrop that was.  :)
  • JSCJSC Member ✭✭
    Prince playing a surprise gig in the Garage.  That was cool!! He came straight from the SECC and played for a couple of hours....Legend!
  • @VisitScotlandAngela I saw Travis in the Music Hall a couple of years ago, hands down one of the best gigs I've ever been to. The Kooks at the Barrowlands in Glasgow was also pretty amazing! 
  • VisitScotlandRuaridhVisitScotlandRuaridh Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    The Aros Centre in Portree is a very popular venue for Live Music. On Thursday 2 June, Daimh are playing live in concert from 7:30pm. A great night of Highland music guaranteed!
  • VisitScotlandIanVisitScotlandIan Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    I've been to quite a few venues around Scotland and there are some really good ones, but my favourite (and it's not just because it's in my city) is Eden Court Theatre in Inverness. Great atmosphere and excellent acoustics. My last concert there was Lulu and she was fantastic!
  • CanyoneroCanyonero Member
    The O2 Academy is easily my favourite venue to see bands up close and personal but The Hydro is amazing for the bigger gigs. 

    O2 ABC and Barrowland are also great smaller gig venues and there's also The Cathouse for those who like it a bit louder!  
  • VisitScotlandJoanneVisitScotlandJoanne Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    The Pavilion in Strathpeffer (just half an hour outside Inverness) is one of my favourite venues. I saw a couple of great groups there last year as part of Blas Festival, and managed to catch performances by Dick Gaughan and Edwyn Collins which (for such an intimate venue) was fantastic :smiley:
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  • LeodhasachLeodhasach Member ✭✭
    My other job is working as a writer for a music website and I've been lucky enough to have visited a huge number of venues over the years. The Barrowlands in Glasgow is probably stands out as one of my favourites although I've not been there in years. I think the last band I saw was The Stone Roses back in 199something! My first 'proper' gig was at also at the Barras, Jeff Healey in 1992, one of the finest blues guitarists ever and sadly no longer with us. 

    I'll also second what @VisitScotlandJoanne says, the Pavillion in Strathpeffer is an excellent venue, it's not used anywhere near enough in my opinion. 

    My first love is going to festivals though, there's something a bit special about watching a band play in the open air. T in the Park has never been the same since it left Strathclyde Park (I hated the Balado site and never mind the new one at Perth!) and one of my favourite memories is watching Rage Against the Machine and Cypress Hill on the same stage tearing the place a new one. There was dust rising up into the air because the ground was so dry and there were thousands of people pogoing. But the one that always gets me back is the main stage at Belladrum, it's in old Italian gardens and has to be one of the most unique festival sites in the UK. The atmosphere is always superb and I can'r recall there ever being any trouble there. 

    For music reviews and previews in Inverness and the Highlands:
  • VisitScotlandAliVisitScotlandAli Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    ButeFest on the Isle of Bute is now in its second year.  It is a great day or weekend for the whole family Just over 30-miles from Glasgow, ButeFest is one of the most easily accessible Island Festivals around! It couldn’t be much more straight forward to get here. Simply head to Wemyss Bay by car or train and then jump aboard the good ship CalMac for a short 35-min crossing to Rothesay. We’re then just a 15-min walk from the ferry terminal. We’ll also be running a limited shuttle bus service from the ferry terminal to the ButeFest site (more details coming soon!). To view CalMac’s ferry timetable (inc. details of connecting train times from Glasgow Central) click here! Travelling from Dunoon/Cowal area? Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about you! View the Colintraive-Rhubodach ferry timetable here! 

    Taking place @ King George’s Field (Rothesay, Isle of Bute) from Friday 29th to Sunday 31st July, ButeFest 2016 is set to be even bigger and better than our debut in 2015!

    Acts confirmed so far include: Idlewild, The Magic Numbers, The Rezillos, Skerryvore, Tom McRae, Recreations (formerly ‘Get Cape.Wear Cape.Fly’), Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5, Baghdaddies, Scott Wood Band and many many more.

    Check out the 2016 line-up so far here! For the breakiest of breaking news, be sure to follow us on Facebook andTwitter!

  • ScotlandAdventuresScotlandAdventures Member ✭✭✭
    As Glasgow is a UNESCO city of music, you are guaranteed plenty of live music from the street buskers to the huge Hydro and everything in between!
    Discover up and coming acts or if you're lucky catch a well known act playing a low key gig (or just hanging around enjoying some live music) at Nice 'n' Sleazy or King Tut's Wah Wah Hut.  Personally I really like the atmosphere of the O2 ABC and the O2 Academy is another popular venue along with The Barrowlands.
    For bigger acts there is the SECC and Hydro and Hampden for stadium gigs.
    The Royal Concert Hall, City Halls and Fruitmarket have an eclectic mix of concerts from classical to jazz to traditional Scottish and much more.
    The recently renovated Kelvingrove Bandstand in the Westend is a live music venue with a difference which now regularly holds a range of concerts by well known names.

    Pubs to check out for traditional Scottish music include The Ben Nevis and The Park Bar which are good places to start but to be quite honest there are loads of pubs with live music of every type in Glasgow, far too many to mention!
    Scottish Travel Blogger at Adventures Around Scotland

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  • BrezBrez Member ✭✭
    There's no music town in the world quite like Glasgow - Barrowland, King Tut's, the Hydro, Stereo, Oran Mor... just way too many amazing venues to recommend. Take one of the Glasgow Music City Tours - guided walking tours of the city's music heritage - to get the insider knowledge and some great anecdotes from the guides. The Barrowland walk of fame is a real highlight!
  • VisitScotlandMarinaVisitScotlandMarina Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    edited July 2016
    My first ever gig was at the Barrowlands - Curiosity Killed The Cat, remember them??
    But I do like the Hydro now! Still haven't been to King Tuts but I'm hoping to go in the next couple of weeks to see my cousins (Mannequin Mannequin) playing there.
  • johnmurrayjnrjohnmurrayjnr Member ✭✭✭
    edited July 2016
    Shout out to the intimate venues here in the East Neuk of Fife and St Andrews where some great acts have played in historic pubs, national museums and town halls full of character thanks to Fence Records Homegames (and "Eye of the Dug"). Music scene still vibrant in Anstruther with the occasional gem of a gig by King Creosote in Gardens, bars or the Steel Halls. Dreel Halls
  • CameronSCameronS Member
    Finnegan's Wake is a large Irish themed bar on the iconic Victoria Street within Edinburgh's city center. It's key selling points are its lively atmosphere, incredibly cheap drink (especially for students) and most importantly brilliant live music. Although the bar mainly preforms Irish folk music I have seen solo performers offering a slightly more chilled out vibe. I have been on countless occasions and can honestly say that there has not been one time I haven't LOVED it. 

  • FishjaggerFishjagger Member ✭✭
    @VisitScotlandJulie Totally agree with you about Sandy Bells - many a good music session I have had there!  And very true about the focal point of the folk music revival in the UK and especially Scotland - Hamish Henderson playing an important role in that too.  The Royal Oak in Edinburgh used to be good but i have not been for years, The Black Cat on Rose Street (think that's the name of the pub?!) is now a great place for live traditional session music.  The Lismore bar next to Kelvinhall underground in Glasgow on a Monday night has a great session - and possibly the best pub in the north west of Scotland now for trad live session music - The Carbost Inn on Skye!
  • no1piperno1piper Member
    The village club in Strathblane fantastic little venue for about 70 people the last gig at the end of June was Kathleen MacInnes great night as always
  • TartanLightTartanLight Member ✭✭
    For classical music fans, two great little festivals: East Neuk Festival in late June/Early July in the East Neuk of Fife and the Lammermuir Festival in September around Haddington and East Lothian.
  • TartanLightTartanLight Member ✭✭
    For folk music, take a look at the Crail Folk Club in the East Neuk of Fife.  There is a monthly folk music night in the village.
  • sinead_flemingsinead_fleming Member ✭✭
    @VisitScotlandJulie love love love Sandy Bell's - what a great wee pub. Glasgow is my favourite for gigs, Oran Mor, O2 ABC and Academy, etc, even been to a gig recently in the Centre for Contemporary Arts which was great. Glasgow is amazing for cultural events, so many creative people buzzing about give the city a great vibe.
  • VisitScotlandEstherVisitScotlandEsther Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    I always notice the buskers on Buchanan street when I'm back in Glasgow - lots of young folk with bags of talent, singing their own songs.
  • JWGJWG Member ✭✭
    One of my favorites in Orkney is The Reel.  They do regular concerts featuring local and visiting artists and also weekly music sessions.
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