The recently concluded football World Cup in Brazil has seen huge participation from fans, several making the journey from far-off nations to cheer for their teams.
And now, sports enthusiasts have already begun making plans to head to Scotland for the upcoming Commonwealth Games (July 23 to August 3).
“Sports tourism is witnessing impactful growth with Indian tourists structuring their travel around global sporting events like the football and cricket World Cup, Olympics and Commonwealth Games. We started receiving inquiries for travel to Glasgow [the host city] for the 2014 Commonwealth Games from the last quarter of 2013,”says Shibani Phadkar, senior vice president — products and operations, leisure travel (outbound), Thomas Cook India.
Hampden Park is the venue for almost 50 track and field events in Glasgow
At the Games, 6,500 athletes and officials, from 71 nations and territories will compete in 17 sports over 11 days. And considering the good performance Indian athletes had put up in the 2010 edition held in the country, it is not surprising that fans are looking to cheer them on.
“We have been getting enquiries about trips to Glasgow. Many have asked about the opening and closing ceremonies and events like hockey, boxing, weightlifting and athletics,” says Karan Anand, head-relationships, Cox and Kings.
Adding to the aura is the host city itself. With thumping live-music, art and theatre scene, and a skyline shaped by starchitects, Glasgow is Scotland’s creative capital. And then there’s Festival 2014.
Procession of Commonwealth flags in London
“Running alongside the sporting action, it will transform the city from July 19 to August 3, with an invigorating mix of entertainment, culture and enjoyment filling the streets, spaces and stages of Glasgow,” says Daniel D’souza, head of sales-tour operating, Kuoni India. Some of the city’s best-known and historic locations will be at the heart of the celebrations.
Those into outdoor pursuits, like water sports and hikes, can head to the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. “One can also indulge in fresh seafood culinary delights in the town of Argyll, take historic tours of Scottish castles like the Stirling Castle and a tour of one of the finest whisky distilleries. These are some of the must-do things there and are within easy reach from the Games venues,” says Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com. Here’s more on how you can make most of your trip.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Do visit * Titan Clydebank: One of Scotland’s unique and unusual engineering accomplishments, this shipbuilding crane is located a few miles from the Glasgow city centre and offers amazing views from the top.
* Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum: Housing art from all over the world, it has 22 themed galleries, displaying an astonishing 8000 objects.
* St Andrew’s Cathedral: Built in 1814, it is a Roman Catholic cathedral that has recently undergone major restoration to refurbish the beauty of this great church. Visitors are encouraged to bask in its Gothic splendour of the cathedral and admire the many pieces of religious art here.
* Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park: It was Scotland’s first national park and comprises 720 square miles of beautiful mountains, glens and lochs. You can also get in a visit to Edinburgh, York or Liverpool cities while in Glasgow.
Food and nightlife
Travellers ready to experiment can dare to take a bite of the most infamous Scottish dish —haggis. It’smade with sheep’s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal’s stomach for approximately an hour. The city is home to some of the finest whiskey distilleries in the world, too, some of which are easy to reach from the Games venue. Or bond with locals at Glasgow’s up-market West End, with its traditional pubs, clubs and bars.
Scotland is known for its ghost stories and legends.
* Cruden Bay: The story of the vampire Count Dracula emerged during Bram Stoker’s 17-year love affair with the surroundings.
* Edinburgh Castle: It is supposed to be one of the most haunted spots in Scotland, frequented by a long line of royal ghosts.
* Birkwood Castle: Built around 1860, it was transformed from a family home to a children’s psychiatric hospital in 1923 and closed in 2002. It is little wonder then that ghosts of children are reported to have been spotted here.
* Scotland Street School: The school closed in 1979 due to a huge drop in enrolment. Strange phenomena include regular sightings of two figures on the first and third floors. Objects are reported to move by themselves and cold spots are experienced in summer.
* Loch Ness: Legends have it that this deep freshwater lake in the Scottish Highlands is home to the famous Loch Ness Monster, Nessie, with several alleged sightings drawing in the crowds.
The Barras Market
Shopping and more
Shopping in Glasgow is second only to London and a must-do for Indian shopaholics. Visitors could head to Style Mile, which lies in the centre of the city and houses an extraordinary concentration of shops catering to all budgets. Designer delights can be found in the chic boutiques of the Merchant City and if you’re looking for something more quirky, check out the great vintage stores on offer at West End. Great bargains are also available at The Barras Market at the East End.
Glasgow has been named Unesco City of Music and European City of Culture and is renowned for its creativity. The city has a long-standing reputation for its live-music scene. A must-do should include a visit to music venues, clubs and pubs with live music around the city.
Art is all around in the architecture, theatres and opera houses. The city has world-class art galleries and museums, many of which offer free admission, and showcase its cultural heritage. Glasgow is home to five internationally renowned national performing arts companies, namely the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, National Theatre of Scotland, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet.