Merchant City Festival is back for 2021

Merchant City Festival is set to return this summer. Confirmed to take place between Thursday 8th - Sunday 11th July 2021, the celebrated Glasgow festival will showcase a long weekend of entertainment with outdoor arts, circus, dance and more, brightening up some of Glasgow’s best-loved streets and in venues in and around the Merchant City area of the city.

An Opening Carnival celebration, inspired by Baroque Venetian themes, will open the festival in style on Thursday 8th July with pop-up performances in a variety of places. The full programme will be announced in the following weeks.

The 2021 festival will be slightly different to previous years to ensure compliance with current Public Health guidelines. All events during the festival will continue to be free to attend however due to current restrictions, several of the programmed events will need to be pre-booked online to ensure numbers are managed in the safest way.

To mark the launch of the 2021 edition, Merchant City retailers and restaurants are being invited to apply to the festival’s Get Involved Fund which offers a £500 grant to businesses operating in the area to join in the festival atmosphere and organise some entertainment and cultural activity within or outside their premises during the event.

Premises who are existing licence holders are also being invited to apply to extend their licenced outdoor areas for the duration of the festival so that food and drink provision will be readily available across the festival site. There will be no markets or additional food and drink provisions aside from what is already in operation in the Merchant City this year.

Councillor David McDonald, Chair of Glasgow Life said:

“We can’t wait to welcome the return of Merchant City Festival this summer. It is such a warm and welcoming event and with restrictions starting to lift and light appearing at the end of this difficult year we look forward to sharing the programme of engaging and celebratory events with you over the coming weeks.  “The local retailers, restaurant and bars within Merchant City are an integral part of the festival every year and I do encourage as many as possible to sign up to the Get Involved Fund so we can help facilitate them being an even bigger part of what is set to be a feel-good and exciting long weekend of culture and fun.”

Lorenzo Mele, Merchant City Festival Executive Producer, said:

"Although the festival offering won’t be the same as previous years, the programme will continue to be centred around a rich cultural experience, with community at its heart. The Festival will celebrate the best from Scotland and the UK in outdoor performance, covering circus, dance, carnival, music, outdoor theatre and cabaret. While it will look and feel different from previous years, it will still surprise and delight as familiar streets and spaces are transformed by performances and excitement. The Festival will continue to support the local businesses in the Merchant City, working closely with them to present performances and encourage a safe return to the cultural heart of the city. We will also continue to explore the difficult history of the area with its roots in the Transatlantic Slave trade and British colonialism.”

Merchant City Festival will run from Thursday 8 - Sunday 11 July 2021. Programme details to be announced in the coming weeks.

More information is available here:



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Notes to Editors

  1. Merchant City Festival takes place from Thursday 8th – Sunday 11th July 2020. The full programme will be announced soon and will be available at
  2. Glasgow Life is a charity working for the benefit of the people of Glasgow. We believe everyone deserves a great Glasgow life and we find innovative ways to make this happen across the city’s diverse communities. Our programmes, experiences and events range from grassroots community activities to large-scale cultural, artistic and sporting events which present Glasgow on an international stage. Our work is designed to promote inclusion, happiness and health, as well as support the city’s visitor economy, in order to enhance Glasgow’s mental, physical and economic wellbeing.

For more information on our work, see

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here.  We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life.  We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit  Follow us @creativescots and