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A former fruit market and a purpose-built performance space that feature shows for all tastes, with the likes of jazz, classical and rock music.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what purpose the Old Fruitmarket fulfilled in Glasgow’s Merchant City area of yesteryear. Among many preserved period features in this historic 1,200-capacity space – a working market until as late as the 1970s – you can still see the signage of traders such as greengrocers and ironmongers.
Adjoining in this complex owned by Glasgow Life (Glasgow City Council’s cultural arm) is the City Halls, which includes the Grand Hall, an acoustically calibrated 1,066 capacity ‘shoebox’-style performance space dating back to 1841. It’s Glasgow’s oldest purpose-built performance and meeting space, and today home to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
Both venues tend to be used for classical, jazz and folk concerts in the main – particularly during the annual Celtic Connections roots music festival in January, and the Glasgow Jazz Festival In June. But the Old Fruitmarket’s versatility has seen it used for a vast range of other events over the years, including rock, pop and R ’n’ B concerts (by everyone from P Diddy to Glasvegas), theatre performances, comedy sets (especially during March’s annual Glasgow Comedy Festival), banquets, fashion parties and club nights.
With a high-vaulted ceiling, cast iron columns and spiral staircases leading to a large balcony that rings the room, the Old Fruitmarket is a uniquely atmospheric space, particularly when laid out cabaret-style with candlelit tables. Sound-wise, during quiet acoustic shows, be prepared to put up with the creak of the old floorboards in the balcony. They’re a piece of local history, don’t you know.