Christmas is associated with glowing lights, warmth, and friendliness. And during modern times to a growing extent also with last minute shopping sprees and crowded malls. Looking for a bit of  everything? You’ve come to the right place.

In case you’re not yet feeling christmassy at this time of year, begin your Glasgow tour at George Square. Located at the heart of the city, the festivities start right here with the annual tree lighting ceremony, which is eagerly anticipated by locals and visitors alike. Accompanied by fireworks, the Christmas lights are switched on and along with the beautifully decorated streets will definitely get you in the mood for Christmas.

Upon my arrival in town, Christmas couldn’t have feel further away – it was slightly too warm, rainy, and the festive lights were still missing. Joining 12,000 other eager spectators for the lighting ceremony then suddenly sparked the Christmas fever: Little children calling for Santa and singing carols, the smell of Christmas treats and of course the fireworks immediately set the right frame for a solemn atmosphere. The event definitely is a must-see if you can get your hands on one of the tickets. Access to the lighting ceremony is limited and tickets are given away in a lottery, so make sure to sign up for a chance to attend. Even if you miss out on the actual event, George Square is definitely worth a visit. Those who are not in the mood for shopping can either go ice skating on the ice rink or even enjoy an open air movie here.

Photo via Glasgow City Marketing Bureau

Now, what is the best place to go for Christmas gifts? Glasgow’s “style mile” has a huge variety of popular brand names mixed with boutique designer stores and local brands. The city has also earned a reputation as a vintage heaven where fashion fans can find a great variety of styles within a reasonable price range. So it seems quite natural the best place to hunt down old-fashioned fashion is the hip West End of Glasgow. Even though it was nice browsing around in the department stores, I personally enjoyed the West End a bit more. Many of the small shops were lovingly decorated and allowed to step into a different world just by going next door. Plus, if you’re looking for a place to go for a night out on the town, Ashton Road is a popular location with many bars and restaurants lined up in an easily overlooked side street. If you’re located in the city center, the West End is easily accessible via subway.

Scotland’s largest city is filled with vintage places holding a lot in store for everyone. Usually I’m not a huge fan of vintage fashion but was impressed with the broad variety on display and much to my suprise immediately fell in love with some lovely patterned dresses I found at Vintage Guru. The store also has an amazing selection of shoes and bags and updates their clothing and jewellry on a daily basis so it’s worth stepping by more than once. Starry Starry Night specialises in both antiques and fashion, and even has some items in original packaging. Their clothing style mainly focuses on the 1920s, so this definitely is the place to go for those who want to glam up. Recently named one of the best and most original vintage stores in Glasgow, The Glasgow Vintage Co. and their sister shop Watermelon are other good stops to indulge in vintage fashion. Thanks to the store’s lovely interieur browsling around feels more like combing through an an old closet and digging up some pretty gems.

Aside from the mainstream and vintage stores, Glasgow has numerous independent designer shops. Also located in the West End, the Nancy Smillie Shop, for example, offers handmade accessories (which go along perfectly with vintage and current fashion) as well as clothing, prints, and furniture.

And for the breaks in between shop hopping: Have you tried Scottish chocolate yet? Recommended by Glaswegians, Nucoco Chocolate (available here) offers sweet treats with ingredients ranging from apricot and cranberry to tablet – the famous Scottish candy.

To me, visiting Glasgow wasn’t love at first sight: I arrived in Glasgow with the expectation of finding typical British weather and yet another Christmas market. What I found was a city’s real enthusiasm for Christmas, unexpected love for vintage fashion and amazingly friendly Glaswegians. Not even the weather could overshadow any of this.
Cordula Schaefer Cordula Schaefer is a photography enthusiast who loves to venture out to explore new places and hardly ever leaves the house without a camera. A New Yorker at heart, she is especially fond of city trips and has a soft spot for beautiful beachscapes. She currently bases herself in Berlin and keeps the visual documents of her travels at Cordugram.