Merchants for mirth

Merchants of menace: the Merhcant City festival in full swing.
Merchants of menace: the Merhcant City festival in full swing.

RUNNING out of parks to visit and despairing at the daily welly wash after all that mud?

Perhaps a trip into the town centre is just what’s needed to give your summer a cultural boost.

23/07/11  'GLASGOW'The Merchant City Festival

23/07/11 'GLASGOW'The Merchant City Festival

No, we’re not talking dragging little ones from museum to museum, because Glasgow’s cultural scene is all singing, all dancing, and taking to the streets this week for the Merchant City Festival.

Crammed into five days (beginning on Wednesday) there are 300 events going on, spread across 75 venues (and we promise, many of them are indoors and away from the rain).

Here at Live!, we’ve singled out a few highlights so that you can plan the week ahead, whether you’re interested in the history of your city, or just the wacky and wonderful.

The somewhat ominously named Blood and Roses is a walking tour, running throughout the week and exploring the corners of the Merchant City.

23/07/11 - 11072301 - GLASGOW CITY MARKETING BUREAU'GLASGOW'The Get Set GlasGOw mass participative dance performance on Brunswick Street

23/07/11 - 11072301 - GLASGOW CITY MARKETING BUREAU'GLASGOW'The Get Set GlasGOw mass participative dance performance on Brunswick Street

There’s also a medieval city tour, pointing out remnants of the era that you do know about (Glasgow Cathedral) and some you may not have noticed.

If performance art is your thing, then fear not – Australian troupe SURGE are back on the streets of the city, so prepare for madness, mayhem and maybe the odd dose of body paint.

Wednesday lunchtime is set aside for families, opening the festival’s experience stage with a street party for all ages.

And our pick of the bunch is another chance to see the world’s oldest surviving music hall, the Britannia Panopticon, hosting both a children’s magic show and its monthly Music Hall Memories over the festival weekend.

There are also a wealth of activities geared towards the London Olympics, from dance shows at Central station (for football fans on their way to Hampden) to big screens set for viewing the action down south, and even a pop-up sports-themed cinema.

But perhaps the biggest spectacle of all this year is the Big Man Walking – and really, it does what it says on the tin.

The Big Man in question is a 26ft tall puppet, emerging from his sleep at 5pm on Friday (July 27) – and he probably needs a kip, having travelled across Scotland this summer.

Glasgow’s rather large guest will be serenaded by Gaelic singers and followed by a performance by the Boteco de Brasil band.

Whether he’ll end up with a cone on his head while passing the Gallery of Modern Art though, is anyone’s guess...

n The Merchant City Festival runs July 25-29. For a full programme of events, visit www.merchantcityfestival.com.