10 things to do around Glasgow’s canal in 2020

Glasgow’s canal is a bustling and vibrant urban hub of activity and an emerging destination in the north of the city.

The dawn of 2020 marks the start of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters and north Glasgow’s stretch of waterway has plenty to celebrate, with leading cultural organisations, cutting-edge sports activities, Scotland’s first urban nature reserve and a festival, all calling the canal home.

Here’s 10 things you can do along it this year:

1. Get on the water

With wakeboarding, kayaking and a whole host of watersports available along Glasgow’s canal, there is no excuse not to get in amongst it.

Port Dundas is home to Pinkston Watersports Centre – Scotland’s only artificial whitewater course, which offers whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddle boarding. Glasgow Wake Park also opens back up in March, where you can learn to wakeboard via a special cable system. ‘Water’ you waiting for – come along and carve up the canal this year! 

2. Visit a market

A new local night market is set to light up north Glasgow this January when it launches on Friday, 31 January. Hosted by Carnival Arts Yard, the debut event will kick off at 6pm, giving people the chance to spend the evening exploring a local flea market and enjoying food, drinks and live music.

Driven by the talent found within the Glasgow canal community, local businesses, artists and makers will be selling artisan goods including arts, crafts, clothing and soaps. 

3. Take in Scotland’s first urban nature reserve

Hamiltonhill Claypits, Scotland’s first urban nature reserve, is due to reopen in spring 2020. Explore the wildlife and plant life hidden in the 25-acre plot on the banks of the canal.

Substantial improvement works by Scottish Canals, including the introduction of new paths, will make it easy for anyone to access the local reserve – look out for those spectacular views across the city from Hamiltonhill.

4. Learn to skate

Get yourself down to The Loading Bay – Glasgow’s first indoor skate park and try your hand at skateboarding, BMXing and more. The stylish, state of the art action sports hub covers an impressive 30,000 square feet and is one of the largest and most advanced skateparks in the country. Skate the street plaza, bowl or modular area, check out the ‘super trampoline’ or drop in to the cafe – it’s a must-visit in 2020.

5. Come along to Glasgow Canal Festival

On Saturday, 25 July 2020, the banks of Glasgow’s canal will be bursting with activity in a celebration of the unique and iconic waterway and its vibrant surrounding community for Glasgow Canal Festival 2020.

Alongside live music, artistic performances and workshops, sporting activities and chances to explore and celebrate the area’s heritage and unique environment,  the 2020 festival will feature a captivating Canal Carnival Flotilla as part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters.

6. Check out a world class theatre show

The National Theatre of Scotland’s headquarters Rockvilla is located on the banks of Glasgow canal. Named Rockvilla in recognition of the industrial and social heritage of the area, the building is an engine room for Scottish Theatre.

It is a place of imagination, learning and play where you can catch world-class theatre productions and take part in invigorating conversations. In June, Rockvilla will host an international conversation around the health and wellbeing of LGBTI+ people in Scotland,  The Coming Back Out Conversation.

7. Try some sculpture

Glasgow Sculpture Studios run two public sculpture programmes a year, in the spring and autumn, for anyone looking to give sculpture a go.

Glasgow Sculpture Studio
GSS Engagement Programme “Pulpworks” by Pester & Rossi

Whether you’re returning to sculpture or trying it for the first time, you can get involved. From metalwork to mould-making, the programmes aim to introduce you to new ways of thinking, making, and doing, while creating space for you to bring your own thoughts, ideas, and interests to each session. They also run a free sculpture club for kids and families – check their Facebook page for details.

8. Attend a workshop

Every month, the spaces of Civic House are filled with workshops led by people working across art, design and sustainability that you can join in with. Test new ideas, learn through making and share skills and knowledge in this stimulating environment.

Spend the day developing a new skill, exploring a practice or learning about new topics and subjects. Then from 7pm, share a meal with everyone who’s taken part in the workshops, served by the Civic House Kitchen team.

9. Grab a bite

There’s some great wee spots along the canal to grab a bite. For something special at lunchtime, why not try Civic House Kitchen – a public canteen for Speirs Locks located on Civic Street. The vegan cafe is open over lunchtimes, and occasional weekend evenings, serving a single dish cooked on the day available for just £5.

Elsewhere, Ocho Cafe is situated on the banks of the impressive Speirs Wharf, in a corner of the original 1851 heritage building. Escape into the lovely surroundings and enjoy some brunch, lunch or cocktails or get on board one of their popular gin and whisky tasting canal boat trips later in the year on the quaint Navvie’s Barge.

Blue boat on Glasgow Canal

10. Get out and about

The canal is the perfect place for a walk, run or cycle. We are the gateway to an exciting network of cycle paths and routes within Glasgow and that stretch all the way to Loch Lomond. Whether you’re looking for a green way to get to work, or to enjoy some time stretching your legs along the water’s edge – you can do it via Glasgow’s canal.