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Paisley ready to bid as UK City of Culture competition launches

The team behind Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture say the town will be ready to host the 2021title – after the UK Government today fired the starting gun on the competition.

Paisley Town Hall lit up in support of the bid

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport today formally launched the 2021 competition, with bids due in for 28 April, and the winner to be announced at the end of the year.

The guidelines were announced by Minister for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock MP during a visit to Hull, the current holders of the title, which runs every four years.

Paisley’s unique assets include the globally-recognised Paisley Pattern, Scotland’s second-highest concentration of listed buildings, and an internationally significant museum collection, including the world’s largest collection of Paisley shawls.

The town also offers a thriving contemporary cultural scene, a highly-regarded university, international airport, and PACE, one of the UK’s largest youth theatre groups.

Paisley officially launched its intention to bid in November 2015 and the year since has seen an outpouring of support from the local community and beyond, including:

– more than 8,000 local people taking part in conversations around the bid;

– messages of support from homegrown cultural icons such as singer Paolo Nutini and playwright John Byrne;

– backing from more than 100 businesses, including Glasgow Airport, intu Braehead and the University of the West of Scotland;

– 70 million opportunities to see or hear something positive about Paisley, helping change perceptions and the tone of conversation about the town;

– cross-party political support, with an event at Westminster and one of the best –attended parliamentary receptions in the history of the Scottish Parliament;

Councillor Mark Macmillan, chair of the Paisley 2021 partnership board and Renfrewshire Council Leader, said: “We would like to thank DCMS for giving us the chance to bid for this title – we hope to use it to transform the area’s fortunes, bringing massive economic benefits and a lasting social and cultural legacy.

“The first week of Hull’s UK City of Culture year saw 342,000 visitors to the city – that is scale of boost this title could bring.

“Paisley’s name was once carried across the world thanks to the Pattern and its status as the one-time home of the global thread industry – for its size, the town’s contribution to the world has been massive.

“This bid will retell Paisley’s unique story to the world, while showing the judges Paisley wants the title, needs the title and can deliver it.”

Jean Cameron, Paisley 2021 Bid Director, added: “Over the past year we have had wonderful backing from the people of Paisley – and our thriving creative community has been at the heart of that.

“In that time we have seen a new sense of confidence and awareness of everything Paisley has to offer – and we will distil that into a bid which shows DCMS how we plan to harness the power of culture to make people’s lives better.

“We would also like to wish all the best to all the other cities who will be joining us on the bidding journey.”

Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: “Securing UK City of Culture status would have a hugely positive effect on Paisley and everyone at Glasgow Airport is fully behind the bid.

“As well as providing a nationwide platform to showcase the town’s rich cultural heritage, it would also create a legacy of enduring civic pride for the people of Paisley.

“There’s no doubt a successful bid would play a significant role in boosting inbound tourism, so having an international airport serving more than nine million passengers just minutes from the town centre can only be to Paisley’s advantage.

“We hope our continued support can help play a part and wish the bid team good luck.”

Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of University of the West of Scotland (UWS), said: “UWS is extremely proud to be one of the key partners of Paisley 2021.

“The university has already contributed to a number of initiatives related to the bid including an innovative digital art exhibition at Paisley Museum, which was commissioned by UWS in support of the bid.

“University staff are also playing an integral part in bid planning and delivery. We are excited about being part of the process and continuing to work with our partners to showcase Paisley.”

David Wallace, managing director of PACE theatre company and chair of the Creative Renfrewshire Network said, “The past year has been phenomenal in terms of taking pride in and perceptions of Paisley to a new level.

“The young people in the company now talk excitedly about their town and the competition launch brings their dream of a creative future one step closer.”

Although Paisley is not a city, the competition is open to large towns and urban areas, so as Scotland’s largest town, Paisley is equipped to apply and win.

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said:

“The firing gun has now been fired and the race to be named UK City of Culture in 2021 can now truly begin.

“The team behind Paisley’s bid to be named UK City of Culture 2021 have been working hard for the past year, showcasing everything that our town has to offer and detailing the transformational impact that would come from Paisley being awarded this prestigious title.

“I know from my work promoting the town in Westminster that there is a lot of interest in Paisley, and I will continue to do everything in my power to help Paisley being awarded the title of UK City of Culture 2021.”

For more information about Paisley’s bid, see www.paisley2021.co.uk

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Paisley goes to Holyrood!

Artists, poets, actors and musicians from Paisley will join with representatives from the public, private and third sectors at the Scottish Parliament tonight to show their support for Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

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The fabulous PACE players doing their bit again – left to right Angus Taylor, Ruth Main, Carla McPherson and Daniel Meehan.

George Adam MSP for Paisley and Neil Bibby, MSP West Scotland, are sponsoring a reception for Paisley 2021, which has attracted attendance by Creative Scotland, the National Theatre of Scotland, VisitScotland, Skills Development Scotland, YoungScot and the British Council, to name but a few.

Paisley-born, renowned artist and script-writer, John Byrne, is also expected to attend, having recently said he supports the bid wholeheartedly. And MSPs of all parties will be invited to show their support in person and via social media.

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The event marks a critical point in Paisley’s journey towards submitting its bid for the title, run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), next spring, and celebrates phenomenal support for the endeavour garnered over the past year.

Jean Cameron, Project Director for Paisley 2021, said, “In 12 short months, we have seen the tide of opinion turn towards a position where people now really believe we can do it, and that belief in itself has had an enormously positive effect on our communities.

“A vivid pattern is emerging – a bit like the famous Pattern itself – with passionate people all pulling together to create an incredible showcase that draws inspiration locally, but also thinks globally looking to partners across Scotland to help us throw the country’s doors open to colourful, dynamic, marvellous, friendly exploration!”                 

In the past year:

  • 8,000 people have been part of “the conversation”, participating in consultations across the eight different themes around which Paisley will construct its bid, including visual art, music, literature and fashion.
  • 74 local businesses have backed the bid, 16 of which have taken on the role of principal partner using their influence to amplify the bid team’s appeal that Paisley’s cultural assets can be used to transform the lives of local people, and the experience of visitors to Scotland’s largest town.
  • The bid has achieved cross-party support, with Scottish Labour Leader, Kezia Dugdale, recently recording a message of support, and MPs for Paisley and Renfrewshire South and Paisley and Renfrewshire North, respectively, Mhairi Black and Gavin Newlands, hosting a reception at Westminster in September.
  • Paisley 2021 marketing and communications have generated 70 million opportunities to see or hear something positive about Paisley and the town’s bid for the City of Culture accolade.

Paisley also has the largest following on social media of any of the known contenders including Perth, Coventry, Hereford, Sunderland and Stoke-on-Trent.

Renfrewshire Council Leader and Chair of the Paisley 2021 Bid Partnership Board, Mark Macmillan, added, “These past 12 months have taken us on an incredible journey, rediscovering assets that have for too long been overshadowed and engaging with local communities on an unprecedented scale. Tonight we are moving things up a gear and we are very grateful to George and Neil for affording us the opportunity.”

George Adam MSP, said, “It is an honour as Paisley’s MSP to host this event showcasing what Paisley has to offer and presenting the powerful case for Paisley to be the UK City of Culture in 2021.

“The interest that has been generated will mean this is one of the best attended events the parliament has ever seen. Indeed, the numbers are so high because so many of the talented individuals from in and around the town are attending.

“I’m sure this will go a long way in presenting Paisley’s bid to the world.”
Neil Bibby MSP, said, “I’m proud to co-host this important event in support of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture. Local people already know that we have an incredibly strong case to be the 2021 host, but it was fantastic to showcase the town’s Untold Story in the Scottish Parliament to MSPs, the Scottish Government and key stakeholders. It is very encouraging to see that more and more people are backing the bid.”

Meanwhile, Paisley’s events calendar is steadily growing in strength and popularity. On Saturday, December 3, it secured the Scots Trad Music Awards 2017 to add to the British Pipe Band Championships and Scottish Album of the Year Awards, which will both be returning in 2017. The town is also bidding to host The Royal National Mòd again in 2021.

A full list of next year’s events is at http://www.paisley2021.co.uk/news/major-events-programme-in-2017/

For more information on Paisley’s story go to www.paisley2021.co.uk You can support the bid by pressing the red button on the site, liking /Paisley 2021 on Facebook, or following @Paisley2021 on Twitter and Instagram.

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Scottish Labour leader backs Paisley 2021 bid

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has publicly backed Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021, in the latest show of cross-party political support for the town’s ambitions.

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Photos courtesy of Hannah Thomson for Paisley.org.uk

 

The Scottish Labour leader gave her backing during a visit to Paisley Museum where she met young people involved in an award winning creative youth project being funded by the bid.

The bid has received cross-party support, with local politicians hosting events in both the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

The growing support follows on from recent high-profile backers of the campaign, with musician Paolo Nutini and artist John Byrne – who both hail from the town – having done so in recent weeks.

While visiting the town, she was met by Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan, Paisley 2021 Bid Manager Stuart McMillan and by participants in Project Z – which will see young people from the town’s Ferguslie Park area trained to write and create their own graphic novels.

 

The project was part-funded by the area’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund, a £500,000 five-year scheme which aims to boost the capacity of the local creative scene during the Paisley 2021 bid.

It also received funding from Renfrewshire Council’s ground-breaking Tackling Poverty Programme, which covers a wide range of projects aimed at taking on long-term deprivation issues in the area.

The Paisley 2021 bid aims to use the town’s outstanding collection of heritage and cultural assets to improve the area’s prospects and transform its future.

Kezia’s visit to Paisley Museum comes in the week a fundraising strategy was unveiled for a £49m redevelopment of the Victorian-era building which aims to turn it into a visitor experience of international quality, telling the inspirational stories of Paisley, its heritage and its pattern.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said:

“I am delighted to back Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture in 2021. A successful bid can support the work Renfrewshire Council is already doing to transform Paisley and would leave a legacy that could improve the lives of people in the town.

“Culture can change the lives of young people living in poverty. Supporting people to develop new skills means they can grow their confidence and compete for the jobs of the future. I had the privilege of meeting with some very talented and engaging young people. All they need is the right support to have a fair chance in life. Paisley’s bid for City of Culture 2021 can be part of that.

“The Glasgow City Deal also provides an opportunity to regenerate Renfrewshire. The UK and Scottish governments should deliver the necessary funding as soon as possible, so people in Renfrewshire can start to feel the benefit of this investment.”

Councillor Mark Macmillan said:

“It was great to welcome Kezia to Paisley today and talk her through the ambitious and hugely exciting vision we have for the town over the years ahead.

“It was also good to meet some of the young people taking part in one of our innovative tackling poverty projects – ultimately the Paisley 2021 bid is about the power of culture to change people’s lives for the better.

“Paisley Museum was a fitting venue for the visit given its status as the anchor project in our plans – the proposed revamp is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year into the town centre, creating a boost to the local economy and attracting new jobs.

“Running alongside the major infrastructure improvements being delivered through the Glasgow City Region City Deal – including our plans for a tram-train link between Glasgow Airport and Paisley Gilmour Street Station – major opportunities lie ahead for Renfrewshire and we want to ensure the future for local communities is a bright one.”

Hayden Chivers, aged 18, and a member of Project Z, said:

“This project is a fantastic opportunity that helps improve our life skills and prepare us for the world of work. We’ve been meeting weekly in the local library in Ferguslie Park and we do activities such as creative writing, drama and visual art.

“The project has really benefited many of us and helped us by encouraging us to either stay on at school or go to college, some of us have part-time jobs or volunteer for other organisations. I’m proud to be from Paisley and delighted to be able to show others how great it is to live in this town.”

The team was successful in its application to the Culture, Heritage and Events Fund as part of Paisley’s City of Culture bid and will involve them working on a social history project based on the punk movement in Paisley and other subcultures popular in the town and the legacy left today. The end product will be an exhibition of film, photography and a graphic novel.

For more information, visit www.paisley2021.co.uk

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MP SAYS PAISLEY CULTURE CITY BID COULD BRING ‘GREAT TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE’

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WESTMINSTER DEBATE TO HIGHLIGHT PAISLEY’S BID FOR PRESTIGIOUS AWARD

SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North Gavin Newlands has said that it would be a ‘great way to create a transformational change‘ for Paisley – if it won the bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021.

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Gavin Newlands comments came as he leads a debate at Westminster on Paisley’s bid  for the prestigious award – and on the deserved reputation the town has for its cultural contribution to Scotland and the wider world.

Gavin Newlands MP said:

“I have been a passionate supporter of Paisley’s bid to be named UK City of Culture 2021, and wanted to take the message to a wider audience at Westminster.

“My debate in parliament is an opportunity to promote Paisley and the bid. Securing this title isn’t just about recognising our cultural strengths, it’s also about creating a transformational change for everyone living in the area. Paisley has challenges and being named as the UK City of Culture would give us the tools to tackle these challenges head-on.

‘’We have seen how other bid winners – most noticeably Glasgow in 1990 – benefit and well known Paisley figures like Paolo Nutini and acclaimed artist and playwright John Byrne have thrown their weight behind the campaign.

‘’Paisley well and truly punches above its weight in so many areas of culture ; we have the highest concentration of listed buildings anywhere in Scotland outside Edinburgh and the famous Paisley pattern is synonymous with the town’s rich history – it would be a real boost if in addition to all the great attractions of my home town – we could secure this bid.’’

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NEW PAISLEY LITERARY MAGAZINE AIMS TO PUT LOCAL POETRY ON THE MAP

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A new poetry magazine for showcasing poems and poets with a connection to the town of Paisley has been founded by a local creative writer – with the help of Renfrewshire Council funding.

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Paisley Poems is the brainchild of 22-year-old Hannah Wilson, whose own work has been published regularly since she was just 13 after winning a national newspaper-sponsored short story writing competition.  Since then, her work has been accepted for publication in various places, including Paris-based Belleville Park Pages and The James Joyce Quarterly.

She has now been given a £920 grant from Renfrewshire Council’s Culture, Heritage, and Events Fund – created to support Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 by

  • raising ambition
  • getting people involved in  culture
  • unlocking the area’s creative potential
  • building the capacity of the local creative scene.

Hannah said: “Paisley has a rich history of poetry, stretching back to the weaver poets and beyond, but until now there has been no local forum for Paisley’s poetry to be put on the world stage.

“This is a great opportunity for local writers to get some of their work published. Even if you’ve never written any poetry before, I’d encourage anyone to give it a go – we’re looking to get as wide a range of writers involved as possible.

“The City of Culture bid has already done a huge amount for the town – I think it’s great that the Council is supporting projects in all areas of the arts.”

Hannah is aiming for Paisley Poems to follow a minimalist model based on magazines in Europe such as Belleville Park Pages – which publishes poetry, fiction and short essays by contemporary writers – and the Dublin-based online literary journal, Bohemyth.

The magazine – which will be sold both online and in local shops – is now looking for budding poets to submit their work from Monday 21 November until 31 January.

The best poems will then be featured in the magazine’s first edition, scheduled for publication in spring 2017.  Full details and submission guidelines can be found at www.paisleypoems.scot.

Jean Cameron, Project Director for Paisley 2021, said: “Building on the history of our weaver poets, recent interest in poetry within Paisley has been highlighted by the popular Poetry Slam which featured as part of the Sma’ Shot Day Celebrations for the past two years.

“I’m delighted that the Council is supporting Hannah and Paisley Poems to provide a local platform for new and emerging writers as it is a novel way to reflect Paisley’s wonderful heritage.”

 

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Paolo Nutini backs Paisley 2021 culture bid at massive event

Paisley’s musical megastar Paolo Nutini has thrown his weight behind his home town’s bid to be named UK City of Culture 2021.

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The singer today declared his support during a surprise video message broadcast to a delighted crowd of 30,000 at the town’s Christmas Light Switch-on event, which coincided with the first anniversary of the bid launch.

Paolo – who was brought up in Paisley and still has a home there – told the crowd of his pride in the town and why he was backing Paisley’s culture ambitions.

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He said: “I’m backing the bid because Paisley is and always has been my home. I love the town and want to see it grow.

“It’s a town that needs the investment, but it knows what it’s going to do with that investment and I think the potential is really clear.

“I see the romance of the town – when you walk into the centre it’s got a beautiful composition.

“The bid is about building a structure that can tackle the more deep-rooted problems and it’s important we get behind that.

“There’s already a new lease of life being brought into the town…I’m backing the bid so please go on the website, push the button, and do the same.”

The annual Christmas Lights event included a special Paisley-themed projection on to the side of Paisley’s 850-year-old Abbey asking residents to back the bid.

The main stage in the town centre was headlined by triple-platinum-selling popsters Scouting for Girls, who were joined by up-and-coming Paisley bands the Vegan Leather and Dogtooth, as well as kids favourites Funbox.

Other activities during the afternoon-long event include a reindeer parade, outdoor snow slope and funfair.

The event was organised by Renfrewshire Council and the lights were switched on by Provost Anne Hall, joined by young competition winner Phoebe of Williamsburgh Primary.

The bid is being taken forward by a partnership of local organisations, many of whom were showing their support during the day on social media using #WeArePaisley.

Residents and visitors alike were also invited to back the bid by pushing a specially-created button on the paisley2021.co.uk website.

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The Renfrewshire town is bidding for the national title as part of wider plans to use its unique cultural heritage and thriving contemporary creative scene to create long-lasting economic, social and cultural change.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, Renfrewshire Council Leader and chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board, said: “Today’s event was all about people of the town having the chance to say We Are Paisley.

“So we are delighted that Paolo – as one of the town’s best-known cultural figures – was able to tell the crowd in his own words why he is backing the bid.

“The Christmas Lights Switch-on always brings tens of thousands of people into the town anyway, and given the anniversary fell on the same weekend there was no better chance for a mass show of support for Paisley 2021.

“The UK City of Culture title goes to a town which can show the UK Government judges that it has a plan to use the title to make a real difference to the area and the people who love there.

“Today we sent a message that not only does Paisley want the title, but it has the capacity to pull off the big events it will involve.”

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Paisley 2021 bid to be marked at Xmas extravaganza

Paisley is gearing up for a double celebration at the weekend – when the first birthday of the town’s bid for UK City of Culture falls as tens of thousands descend for the annual Christmas lights switch-on.

crowd shot from the 2014 Christmas Lights Switch-on

crowd shot from the 2014 Christmas Lights Switch-on

The Paisley 2021 bid was officially launched a year ago and will be a key feature throughout a day of free-to-attend festive family fun in the town centre, this year headlined by triple-platinum-selling popsters Scouting for Girls.

Scouting for Girls

Scouting for Girls

The Christmas lights are due to be switched on shortly after 6pm – and this year will be immediately preceded by a spectacular Paisley-themed 3D light show projected on to the Gauze St side of Paisley Abbey.

The not-to-be-missed projections will show off the past year’s activity on the bid, while asking residents and visitors to back Paisley’s ambitions before the bid is lodged next spring.

The Christmas extravaganza gets under way at noon with the annual reindeer parade, featuring Santa himself and sponsored by the Paisley Centre.

The parade will last around an hour and follows a new route, starting and finishing on the High Street and covering St Mirren Street, Orchard Street and Abbey Close.

Capital FM DJs including Des Clarke will then get the party started on the main stage in Gauze Street from 1pm.

That will see shows by kids’ favourites Funbox (1.30pm) and up-and-coming Paisley bands Dogtooth (2.30pm) and the Vegan Leather (4pm) before Scouting for Girls take to the stage at 5.25pm after a special Christmas singalong for the crowd,

Other activities include a snow beach and toboggan slide in Dunn Square, craft market and Accord Hospice tea room in Paisley Town Hall and funfair in County Square.

The cost of the performers is being partly met by sponsors intu Braehead, the Paisley Centre, Invest in Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire Leisure and Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce.

The event is organised by Renfrewshire Council, and council leader Mark Macmillan said: “The Paisley Christmas Lights Switch-on always attracts a massive crowd into the town centre – but the Paisley 2021 element will make this one extra special.

“With that in mind, it is great to see two local acts who are making a name for themselves get to play before thousands on the main stage – the area has a thriving grassroots musical scene and we want to show that off.

“And the Paisley-themed 3D light show on the side of the Abbey will be a perfect way to round off the first year of the bid.

“UK City of Culture tends to go to a place which can show it needs and wants the bid and has clear plan to use the title to transform its fortunes – which Paisley does.

“A mass show of support on Saturday would help show the judges how serious we are, while letting everybody see Paisley knows how to throw a party!”

Residents and visitors should be aware there will be road closures throughout the town centre on Saturday which will impact on bus routes. See www.mcgillsbuses.co.uk for more info.

Parking is free in all council-metered bays and car parks every weekend and there will also be free event parking at West College Scotland, Castlehead High and Paisley Grammar.

More information on the day is available at www.paisley2021.co.uk

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Thousands enjoy Paisley’s Halloween spooktacular

Paisley enjoyed an explosion of light, sound and activity at the weekend when thousands of visitors descended on the town centre for the annual Halloween festival.

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The hugely-popular annual event – taking place as part of the build-up to Paisley’s bid for Uk City of Culture 2021 – kicked off on Friday evening with a lantern-lit parade through the town centre led by the stunning Spark! LED drummers.

That continued in Abbey Close itself with a fire garden run by outdoor arts specialists Walk the Plank, featuring fire-breathing sculptures and spooky illuminations.

There was also lots for kids in Paisley Town Hall, with Halloween arts and crafts, a family disco, storytelling, puppet shows and music sessions with Feis Phaislig.

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Most of the same activities returned on the Saturday but with the addition of a main stage featuring live music from local musicians and dance groups, and entertainment from Pulse FM DJs.

Both days also saw a funfair, street entertainers and a great selection of outdoor food vendors.

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Groups involved over the weekend includes Independent State of Happiness, Right To Dance, Street Stuff, Floor4orce, Solid Rock Cheerleaders and Rock Us Community Choir.

There was also a special event in the run-up to the Halloween festival, with Paisley Town Hall hosting the world premiere of a new performance by award-winning visual theatre artist Al Seed.

The show – a dark gothic melodrama inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven – was one of the first to be funded by Renfrewshire’s Culture, Heritage and Events fund, aimed at boosting the local creative scene ahead of the Paisley 2021 bid.

The event was organised by Renfrewshire Council, and council leader Mark Macmillan said: “Once again, the Halloween festival made for a fantastic spectacle in the heart of the town.

“The event has been hugely popular since it started two years ago and has helped bring thousands of visitors into the town, boosting local trade.

“It was also good to see so many local cultural groups involved – and with Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 due to be submitted in a few months time, it was once again a great showcase of the flourishing creative scene we have here.”

Renfrewshire’s major winter events programme continues with the Paisley Fireworks display (Sat 5 Nov) and Christmas Lights Switch-on (Sat 12 Nov).

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Paisley Halloween Parade 2016 Photographs