Glasgow has been voted Europe’s Leading Festival and Event Destination 2019 in the 26th annual World Travel Awards, globally recognised as the most prestigious honours programme in global travel and tourism.
Beating off other competition such as London, Cannes, Barcelona and Dublin, Glasgow received the most votes from travel and tourism professionals and consumers across Europe, recognising the commitment to excellence which the city has demonstrated.
The city’s nomination for this brand new award category was based on the array of world-class major sporting and cultural events which Glasgow has hosted over the last few years.
Glasgow sets a new standard when it comes to major sporting events. From the “best ever” Commonwealth Games in 2014, to the inaugural European Championships in 2018, the city is one of the top five sporting cities in the world.
With over 500,000 attendances across the European Championships, the 12 sport venues and three cultural live sites were packed demonstrating the city’s appetite for major events.
The city is renowned for delivering successful world-class events, and this reputation was a deciding factor in Glasgow being awarded the first-ever UCI World Cycling Championships in 2023. This historic, innovative event will bring together 13 existing World Cycling Championships disciplines into one event for the first time alongside a cultural festival.
While elite sport was the main attraction for visitors to the city during the Glasgow 2018 European Championships, the accompanying Festival 2018 and GO LIVE! programmes proved more popular than anticipated with an incredible half a million visitors over the eleven days of competition.
The city’s leading cultural event programme played an integral role in the award win, with a focus on world-leading music festival Celtic Connections. The event presents 18 incredible days of music, ceilidhs, talks, screenings and much more every year in venues across Glasgow. Around 2000 artists from 25 countries took part in 300 events for Celtic Connections 2019. The festival, which was first held in 1994, stays true to its Celtic musical roots while continually seeking to explore new ideas and musical styles, with folk, jazz, techno and Americana among the 2019 programme.
Taking place every year in Kelvingrove Park, the first-ever Glasgow Mela was held in 1990 when Glasgow became the first city in the UK to become European City of Culture. The event celebrates all of Glasgow’s communities and the unique diversity of the city. Around 45,000 people attended the event in 2018 enjoying dozens of artists and performers from Glasgow, the UK, and across the world including the biggest-selling female bhangra artist of all time, Miss Pooja. It was named the UK’s best Mela for the second year in a row at the UK Bhangra awards.
Other annual cultural events include the Merchant City Festival, Piping Live!, Glasgow Film Festival, Aye Write!, Glasgow International Comedy Festival, the World Pipe Band Championships and the biennial Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art.
Councillor David McDonald, Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life, said: “Our city is among the finest in Europe and, indeed, the world, and it’s brilliant to see that reputation being honoured by such a prestigious programme as the World Travel Awards. We regularly set and exceed standards for major sport and cultural events, and this award is proof that we are known for hosting spectacular events which draw visitors from across the globe.
“In the last year alone we’ve hosted the first-ever European Championships which saw over half a million spectators, another spectacular Celtic Connections with more than 130,000 attendances, and the hugely successful 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships when we welcomed almost 21,000 fans to Emirates Arena over three fantastic days of competition.
“To be the first winners of the Europe’s Leading Festival and Event Destination award is something we are very proud of – but we will continue to work hard and build on our previous successes to ensure Glasgow maintains its global reputation for hosting world-class events and festivals.”
Sion Rapson, Vice President, World Travel Awards, said: “I am delighted that Glasgow has been acknowledged by both the travel trade and the public after being voted ‘Europe’s Leading Festival & Events Destination’. This is an acknowledgement of the city’s unrivalled commitment to raising the standards of its tourism offerings.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “I’m delighted that Glasgow has been awarded the accolade of Europe’s Leading Festival and Event Destination 2019 at the World Travel Awards. From major sporting events such as the European Championships 2018 and 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships, to cultural festivals; Celtic Connections and the World Pipe Band Championships, Glasgow has continued to deliver events and festivals of great international significance, receiving the recognition of the industry worldwide.
“This is testament to the hard work and dedication of all those who have planned, delivered and helped secure such high-profile events for Glasgow, ensuring Scotland maintains its enviable reputation as the perfect stage for events.”