Glasgow is well-known for being one of the most cultural cities in the UK. It has a range of diverse music venues and as a massive live music fan, I personally rate Glasgow as one of my favourite cities for gigs and festivals. I travel all over the UK to see my favourite bands, but Glasgow is my go-to city for live music especially as I live so close, which makes it very accessible for me. A quick train or car ride gets me into the city centre of Glasgow within half an hour.
Using the AccessAble app has helped me plan my nights out when going to gigs. The detailed guides for each venue let me know where I can park, what the accessible toilets are like and general access inside the venue. Here are three of my favourite music venues in Glasgow.
SSE Hydro Glasgow
Built-in 2013 as a multi-purpose events arena with an incredible 13,000 capacity, the SSE Hydro has quickly become one of Glasgow’s most popular live event venues. It’s the place for the biggest stars in music to perform in front of their Scottish fans.
I’ve lost count of how many events I’ve attended at SSE Hydro. From a wheelchair user’s perspective, it is definitely one of the best accessible venues in Glasgow or Scotland for that matter.
What I love the most is how easy and stress-free my night feels when I go to a show at this venue. There are a number of designated disabled blue badge parking bays in the multi-storey car park with an accessible walkway that leads you directly to the campus. Once you enter the step-free entrance, you will enter a broad open concourse area with helpful staff and lifts to the first two floors.
The accessible seating is available in several blocks for disabled people and their companions (free PA/Carer ticket is available). The accessible seating areas provide easy level access and located near accessible toilets. The SSE Hydro Glasgow also has a great Changing Places toilet on level two complete with ample space, adult changing bench and ceiling track hoist.
O2 Academy Glasgow
O2 Academy Glasgow is another music venue that I regularly attend for gigs. This is a much smaller venue compared to SSE Hydro with around 2,500 capacity. Despite its smaller size, the O2 Academy Glasgow has great accessibility and does a great job of making disabled people feel welcome and comfortable.
Firstly, unlike many other venues, you can book tickets online for all shows at the O2 Academy. I love that I only need to purchase a standard general ticket for myself and then request a free PA/Carer ticket for my companion when informing the venue of my access requirements. It’s necessary to complete an access requirements form and provide proof of disability the first time you book ‘accessible tickets’, which then gets stored securely for future bookings.
It can be very daunting going to a gig with a disability, but the staff have always been friendly and helpful. This makes the experience more enjoyable and less stressful. Someone from the access team meets you at the door, then takes you to a space on the viewing area where there is room for several wheelchairs and companions. There is also an accessible toilet that requires a RADAR key which the staff have if you don’t have one.
Originally a market in the 1970s, The Old Fruitmarket, which is part of the City Halls is now a stunning concert hall. A beautiful venue for many weddings, gigs, ceremonies and the BBC Scotland’s annual Hogmanay Party on New Year's Eve.
It’s always been a venue in Glasgow I’ve wanted to visit and finally this year I got the chance to. I’ve since attended two gigs at The Old Fruitmarket and got to experience it differently both times.
What remained consistent was the straightforward ticket booking process and helpful staff on the phone taking my bookings. They quickly arranged accessible seating and my free PA/Carer ticket without any problems.
The first gig I attended was a standing show, so the accessible seating was on the balcony. Since my wheelchair doesn’t rise, I found my view of the stage somewhat restricted by the balcony railing. If you are able to stand or have a wheelchair with a rise function then you will enjoy the balcony view. It really is a stunning venue.
However, my second visit was a seated show and this time wheelchair spaces were in the front row. This was fantastic and incredibly exciting to be so close to the band with an amazing unrestricted view. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to another seated show at The Old Fruitmarket.