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Renowned for its traditional and folk music scene, Scotland has a rich musical legacy that is as vibrant today as it was hundreds of years ago. An International Piping Festival celebrates one of the most well-known traditions, while events such as the Highland Games and The Braemar Gathering also come with their own musical accompaniment. From huge arenas to small music halls, Scotland has provided a dazzling array of top class musicians too, from Annie Lennox and Amy Macdonald to Calvin Harris, The Fratellis and the Bay City Rollers. A UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow is home to some of the nation’s most historic venues, although you’ll find musical heritage in all corners of the country.
Described by NME as ‘quite possibly the finest small venue in the world’, playing a gig at the 300 capacity King Tut's Wah Wah Hut has become a seminal point in the career of an impressive array of artists, including Oasis, who were signed there by music executive Alan McGee in 1993. Other major music stars to have played at the venue include The Verve, My Chemical Romance and the Manic Street Preachers, plus hundreds more in between. In more recent times, the intimate space has welcomed Paulo Nutini, Lewis Capaldi and The 1975, providing a platform for emerging artists from Scotland and beyond.
Packed with nostalgia and musical heritage, The Barrowland Ballroom is a key note in Scotland’s musical scene. Reinvented as a music venue in the 1980s, the former dance hall’s sprung floor and exceptional acoustics make it a popular choice among music fans and bands alike. David Bowie, The Clash and The Smiths have all taken to the stage, while Biffy Clyro, Muse, Foo Fighters and Franz Ferdinand are just a few names from a long list of internationally renowned artists to have played there in recent times. Simple Minds recorded the video for their hit Waterfront within the Ballroom’s fabled walls and 2015 saw the return of the Bay City Rollers, some 40 years after the Scottish act first found stardom.
As Scotland’s largest entertainment venue, The SSE Hydro on the site of the former Queen’s Dock in Glasgow regularly plays host to megastars from the music industry. With its distinctive elliptical sloping shape, the arena has also doubled up as a Commonwealth Games venue and the setting for the MTV Europe Music Awards since opening its doors in 2013. Capable of holding more than 14,000 fans, its stage has been graced by Katy Perry, Take That, Iron Maiden, Blink-182, U2, Rod Stewart and Lionel Richie, to name just a few.
Built in 1909 as a corn exchange, and resurrected in the 1990s as an events venue, the 3,000 capacity Edinburgh Corn Exchange has seen legendary acts including The Prodigy, Stereophonics and Justin Timberlake take to its stage. The accompanying Corn Exchange Village also has an array of sports and leisure facilities.
Once a kingpin of Edinburgh’s music scene that welcomed Oasis and Radiohead among many others, La Belle Angele was ravaged by fire in 2002. But it emerged from the ashes 13 years later following an extensive rebuild and now welcomes up-and-coming artists alongside some of the biggest names in music.
Renowned for attracting well-known bands to its stage, Fat Sams lies at the heart of Dundee’s music scene. Jake Bugg, Simply Red and the city’s very own The View are among those to have played in the live music part of the venue, just one section of this renowned nightclub set up.
Found in the heart of Inverness, The Ironworks has welcomed many stars of the music world since opening its doors in 2006. The purpose-built live music venue has seen the likes of Kasabian, Primal Screen, Mumford & Sons, Morrissey and The Charlatans perform on its stage, while also providing a platform for emerging local talent. Glasgow might be considered the pinnacle of Scotland’s music scene, but there’s a plethora of talent all over the country, and you can discover more of its musical high notes with our Scotland-themed playlist.