Paisley’s flagship annual cultural extravaganza The Spree gets under way today….helped by National Theatre of Scotland offering a truckload of chances to see the area as never before.
The seventh year of the Spree (12 to 21 Oct) sees 87 shows in 17 venues in five towns around Renfrewshire over ten days – with music, comedy, theatre and much more.
Big-name headliners include Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi in conversation about his legendary career (Fri 12 Oct) and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas and the London African Gospel Choir performing Graceland (Sat 20 Oct), both at Paisley Town Hall.
The iconic Spiegeltent in County Square will host musical acts The Orb (Mon 15th), Traceyanne and Danny and The Pastels (Sat 13th), ex-Kraftwerk man Wolfgang Flur (Sat 13th), The Wandering Hearts (Sun 14th), Vieux Farke Toure (Tues 16th), The Leisure Society and Duke Special (Weds 17th), Big Minds (Thurs 18th), and Gang of Four (Fri 19th).
The festival also includes Rimini Protokoll and National Theatre of Scotland’s Do’s and Don’ts (12-14 and 16-21 Oct) – offering a unique experience touring the area in a mobile auditorium inside a remodelled truck, backed by the soundtrack of a local choir.
The show is presented by award-winning German documentary theatre specialists Rimini Protokoll and is part of NTS’s Futureproof festival, marking Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018, and some of the young cast were on hand to help launch the festival yesterday outside Paisley Town Hall.
Other Spree highlights over the next 10 days include a sold-out comedy show with Des Clarke and Janey Godley (Spiegeltent Fri 12th), Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert (Paisley Arts Centre, Sat 20th), the ModStuff festival-within-a-festival (Spiegeltent, Sat 20th) plus a visit from The National Whiskey Festival (Paisley Town Hall, Sat 13th).
Do’s and Don’ts is part of The Wee Spree programme over the October school holiday – with a list of (mostly free) shows for kids offering everything from comedy to ceilidhs, plus video game design, circus skills workshops and a dancealong to The Greatest Showman.
There’s also the Spree for All fringe festival, which includes the daily Danny Kyle Stage for unsigned acts in the Old Swan Inn, and taking top local musical talent to venues in Johnstone, Renfrew, Linwood and Lochwinnoch, as well as the pubs and clubs of Paisley town centre.
The Spree is run by Renfrewshire Council as part of a major events programme also including Paisley Halloween Festival (Sat 27 Oct) – listed as one of the top Halloween events in the UK.
The council’s head of communications, marketing and events Louisa Mahon said: “This year’s Spree will be the biggest and best yet as our events continue to grow and attract more visitors to the area.
“The bill has something for everyone – from world-renowned musical talent to a diverse programme for kids of all ages, to some of the best local acts at a venue near you.
“We are also delighted to building partnerships with organisations such as National Theatre of Scotland and bringing some of the country’s finest performers to the town is helping cement Paisley’s place as one of Scotland’s go-to cultural destinations.”
Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the National Theatre of Scotland, said: “DO’S & DON’TS has been co-created by the young people of Paisley as part of our Futureproof festival, marking the Year of Young People 2018, and I am delighted that it is part of the Spree programme.
“It was important to the National Theatre of Scotland that, as part of Futureproof, we had the opportunity to work with the Paisley 2021 Legacy team, and we are incredibly grateful to our partners Renfrewshire Council and Renfrewshire Leisure for making this uniquely special co-production possible.”
The musicians include talented young players from the extraordinary pool of talent that marks today’s British jazz scene. The UK musicians are all young British players from the Tomorrow’s Warriors stable – Ife Ogunjobi (trumpet); Joe Bristow (trombone); Hanna Mubya (bass trombone, tuba); Mebrakh Johnson, Kaidi Akinnibi, Alam Nathan (reeds) plus the long-established tuba player Andy Grappy; and the rhythm team that has been at the heart of Jason Moran’s music for many years, Tarus Mateen (bass) and Nasheet Waits (drums).
It is one of the most infamous witch trials in history which saw Paisley the last town in western Europe to conduct a mass execution in 1697.
Four women and three men were sentenced to death after series of events which started when the 11-year-old daughter of a local laird mysteriously fell ill.
Christian Shaw suffered fits, similar to demonic possession, and accused several people of bewitching her. Witchcraft was against the law in Scotland and seven people were tried as witches and executed at Gallow Green.
But as Paisley gears up to stage its annual Halloween Festival inspired by Renfrewshire’s dark witch history, retired academic Hugh McLachlan says history has treated Christian Shaw unfairly.
Hugh, who researched the 1697 trials extensively and is editor of ‘The Kirk, Satan and Salem: A History of the Witches of Renfrewshire’, says that far from being a malicious accuser, she was unfairly maligned.
Hugh, who first became aware of the case as a young research assistant at Glasgow University, said: “Christian Shaw has had a very bad press with the notion that she was a particularly bad, evil child who was able to fool the courts and local dignitaries for malicious purposes.
“This seemed to me be not very plausible and grossly unfair so my interest was aroused at the potential injustice.
“The alternative view point that she was suffering from a hysterical malady or mental illness seemed to me to be even less likely, so I researched the case.”
Hugh says the case was different from other witchcraft trials in that a child was the main accuser.
He also believes the story was influenced by what happened in Salem in Massachusetts just a few years later.
He added: “The actual evidence didn’t suggest that Christian Shaw was either mentally ill or malicious, but rather she was actually peripheral to the case.
“If you look at the accusations against the people who were charged with witchcraft, if you removed what they were said to have done to Christian Shaw, they would still have been executed.
“It wasn’t crucial to the case and it’s not clear if she even gave evidence at the trial.”
He says that he believes the story was influenced by a book later written on the case by local minsters.
He said: “When people consider her role in all of this, they weren’t considering her evidence at the trial but this book.
“It was written be local ministers who were very well aware of Salem witch trial and wanted to make a theological point. Witches renounced Christ and the fear of witchcraft centred on that and the Devil.
“But if the Devil existed, so did God, and they were trying to encourage atheists to repent.
“It was 1697 and they were looking to the turn of the century and it was a period of great turmoil.
“The local ministers thought the world was coming to an end.”
After the trial Christian Shaw’s story took another sensational twist when she became a prominent businesswoman who founded the Bargarran Thread Company along with her mother.
It transformed into the cotton company on which Paisley’s fame and wealth was founded.
Hugh added: “I think even today her role in the witchcraft trials is misinterpreted. I don’t think Christian Shaw was a malicious child and that she should instead be celebrated as a successful entrepreneur.
“Women often get a rough deal in history and are written out. This is only one interpretation, but the one that I believe. But I think the other stories should still be told, they live in contradiction and conflict with each other.”
Paisley’s annual Halloween Festival ‘Something Wicked this Way Comes’ returns on Saturday 27 October, with a Friday Fright Night on 26 October, and features an animated parade, sound and light installations and performances.
The festival, supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, has been developed with the help of young people. It is celebrating their talents both as performers, as well as contributors to the management of the event behind the scenes.
Part of this is a new production starring a 50-strong cast of young people who will take part in a breathtaking aerial show.
For more information please go to www.paisley.is
Paisley town centre will once again be at the centre of a scooter spectacular when the ever-popular ModStuff event returns to the annual Spree festival.
The annual festival-within-a-festival – run by LNP Promotions – celebrates all things Mod and Northern Soul, and will again take over the Spiegeltent in County Square on Saturday 20 October.
As well as all-day musical entertainment, the event will see around 70 scooters gather in County Square in the afternoon before riding out and around the town.
This year ModStuff will be sponsored by local bar Burger and Keg – based around the corner in Gilmour Street – who will be hosting three DJ nights from Friday 19 to Sunday 21, including the official ModStuff aftershow party on the Saturday.
This year’s scooter rideout – run in partnership with Paisley Vespa Club – will be raising funds for Renfrewshire Carers Centre, with Burger&Keg sponsoring competitions for the best scooters, including furthest-travelled and best-dressed.
ModStuff sees two Spiegeltent shows on the Saturday – a free afternoon one (12 to 5pm) featuring Lemon Soul, START! and Dexy’s Tribute Band, and a now-sold-out evening show with Absolute Jam, Les BOF! and The Signatures.
The Spree festival is run by Renfrewshire Council and is now in its seventh year. Acts appearing this year include Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, London African Gospel Choir, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, The Orb, Gang of Four, Wolfgang Flür (ex Kraftwerk), Big Minds, The Wandering Hearts, Tracyanne & Danny, The Pastels, Vieux Farka Touré, The Leisure Society, Duke Special, Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert, Gillebrìde MacMillan, Des Clarke, Janey Goldey and Stuart Mitchell.
Gary Kerr of LNP Promotions said: “We are delighted to be bringing ModStuff back to The Spree once again – the event grows in popularity every year.
“The evening show sold out weeks ago but we would encourage people to come down for the afternoon and enjoy the free show and the spectacle of the scooter rideout.
“People will be travelling from across Scotland to take part and we are delighted to be raising funds for a great cause in Renfrewshire Carers Centre. We’d also like to thank Burger and Keg for their support.
“Between ModStuff and all the other Spree events happening the day, it’s set to be a great Saturday for Paisley town centre.”
Trevor Mills, owner of Burger and Keg, added: “ModStuff weekend is one of the highlights in the Paisley calendar and we are excited to be working alongside LNP, who have done a fantastic job growing this event with the help of the very supportive and thriving Mod scene.
“We have been granted a late licence over Spree weekends and will have our own DJ playing the classics Friday and Sunday as well as hosting NNE’s Strictly Vinyl ModStuff playing the music as it was originally intended on the old 45s.”
Details of full programmes and ticket information for The Spree, The Wee Spree and the Spree for All are available at www.thespree.co.uk or from the festival box office at 9b Gilmour Street, Paisley PA1 1DG.
Paisley’s Spree festival is hitting the road – with the Spree for All fringe festival taking some of the area’s finest musical talent to all corners of Renfrewshire.
The events – taking place from 12 to 21 October – includes music, comedy, theatre and much more, totalling 87 shows over 10 days in 17 venues across five towns and villages.
Much of the main Spree action will take place in the iconic Spiegeltent in Paisley’s County Square, with big names such as Martha Reeves and the Vandellas and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi appearing in Paisley Town Hall.
But the Spree for All will also see the action spread into pubs and clubs throughout the area.
A series of free shows will bring some of the best musical acts in the area to Johnstone’s Hazel Bar (Fri 12 Oct), Linwood Bowling Club (Sat 13 Oct), Lochwinnoch’s Lochbarr Leisure Centre (Sat 13 Oct) and Renfrew’s Victoria Bar (Sat 20 Oct)
And there’s also a platform for unsigned talent through the Danny Kyle Stage – run in honour of the Paisley folk music legend by Celtic Music FM – which will be in Paisley’s Old Swan Inn each day from Mon 15 to Sat 20 Oct.
Other Spree for All highlights include:
– a series of three late-night DJ nights at Paisley’s Burger&Keg bar (Fri 19 to Sun 21 Oct), including the after-party of the ever-popular ModStuff show on the Saturday;
– Lochwinnoch’s McKillop Hall will host the Alistair McCulloch Trio and Howlin’ Radio (Fri 19 Oct), supported by Lochwinnoch Arts Festival and the local organising committee for Paisley’s Royal National Mod in 2022;
– local promoters Scottish Fiction will host a night in Paisley’s Bungalow Bar (Sat 13 Oct) featuring alternative rock acts Foreignfox, Mt Doubt, Acrylic and Home$lice;
– RockUs Community Choir (motto: ‘sing yourself happy’) performing a free afternoon show in the Spiegeltent (Mon 15 Oct);
– local singer Johnny Barr will bring his popular open-mic nights to Paisley pubs Burger&Keg (Weds 17 Oct) and Manhattan’s (Thurs 18 Oct);
The Wee Spree programme of shows for kids also includes Cosmpot – a kids theatre show which will tour Paisley town centre, Foxbar, Johnstone, Renfrew and Linwood over the October school week, while National Theatre of Scotland’s unique Do’s and Don’ts show will take the audience of a tour of Renfrewshire in a special truck.
The Spree is run by Renfrewshire Council, whose head of marketing, communications and events Louisa Mahon said: “The Spree is now a fixture in an annual calendar which has made Paisley one of Scotland’s go-to destinations for major events in recent years.
“And we are delighted to be spreading the benefits around Renfrewshire, with a series of shows taking place in different towns and villages.
“The council’s events programme has already put £1.25m into the area’s economy this year – and with The Spree and the big winter events of Halloween, Fireworks and the Christmas Lights Switch-ons coming up in the next few weeks, that will rise further.”
The Spree festival is now in its seventh year. Acts appearing this year include Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, London African Gospel Choir, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, The Orb, Gang of Four, Wolfgang Flür (ex Kraftwerk), Big Minds, The Wandering Hearts, Tracyanne & Danny, The Pastels, Vieux Farka Touré, The Leisure Society, Duke Special, Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert, Gillebrìde MacMillan, Des Clarke, Janey Goldey and Stuart Mitchell.
Details of full programmes and ticket information for The Spree, The Wee Spree and the Spree for All are available at www.thespree.co.uk or from the festival box office at 9b Gilmour Street, Paisley PA1 1DG.
It’s game on for some vintage arcade fun in Soar at intu Braehead all this week.
The leisure destination is staging a Retro Gaming event and fans can go back in time to play more than 20 classic arcade machines, 15 consoles and PS4 VR rigs.
But gaming enthusiasts can also play the latest video game craze with a Fortnite arcade machine being installed.
The Retro Gaming event runs every day until Friday, October 12 from 4pm with the final two-hour session starting at 8pm. Tickets costing only £5 need to be booked in advance from the www.soar.intu.co.uk website.
The type of arcade games people can play include Joust, Black Tiger, Pac Man, Star Wars, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Asteroids, Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mortal Kombat 2 and Ninja Turtles with many more available.
Marketing manager at intu Braehead, David Lyon said: “This is real back to the future entertainment and a great fun event for all ages.
“We’ve an amazing array of retro games to suit all ages and abilities.
“We’re expecting lots of people to come along to find out if they’ve still got the skills to master these classic arcade video games.”
Paisley First WinterFest is returning to Paisley town centre this Christmas.
In association with M&D events, this Christmas spectacular will help the town get into the festive mood from 24th November, running daily apart from Christmas Day, until Sunday 30th December!
This year’s plans will see the return of the outdoor ice rink, a Big Wheel and an improved continental Christmas market, as the town looks to attract visitors and shoppers from further afield.
Paisley First is also bringing back its successful free festive Nutcracker Trail with 15 Nutcracker Kings spread throughout the town from Saturday 17th November until Sunday 30th December.
M&D Events is currently submitting the necessary consent applications to Renfrewshire Council.
Paisley First Chairman, Graeme McGowan, said: “These will be two great events to showcase everything that Paisley has to offer during the festive season.
“We will also be running our Christmas Golden Ticket competition where visitors shopping and socialising in the town centre will have four chances to win £500 of town centre gift vouchers. And when it comes to festive shopping we have a lot of fantastic independent retailers as well as national chains throughout the town centre.
“After hitting the shops and enjoying the Christmas entertainment, visitors can take advantage of our many cafes, restaurants and bars.
“Following the success of Jurassic Bricks in the summer, the return of our Christmas events will help cement the town’s reputation as a visitor destination.”
M&D’s Events Director, Douglas Taylor, said: “WinterFest was a great success in Paisley last year and those who enjoyed the festivities made it clear that there was an appetite for it to return.
“We are working with Paisley First to ensure this event will be a great attraction for the local community, who will be eligible for discounted rates, as well as visitors from further afield.”
Registered Office: 51 Moss Street, Paisley, PA1 1DR Business Registration No: SCO 493420 VAT Reg No 209371317
Graeme added: “WinterFest is an ideal addition to the town and we are hoping it will become an annual Christmas tradition in Paisley town centre for many years to come.”
The Nutcracker Trail will see visitors collect special booklets and complete the trail for a chance to win a special WinterFest prizes!
Christmas Golden Tickets are already available in most town centre businesses with draws being made on Saturday 24th November, Saturday 1st December, Saturday 8th December and the final draw on Saturday 15th December.
All the details of these fabulous Christmas events can be found at www.paisleyfirst.com .
Early Bird Discounted Tickets for the outdoor ice rink are available now at www.mdsevents.co.uk/events/
‘Totally wicked’ – that is the verdict from eight-year old Lily Blake on Paisley’s forthcoming Halloween Festival and annual celebration of the spooky and macabre.
Lily is one of over 700 children and young people who are transforming the streets of Paisley into a spectacular illuminated ghoulish wonderland with flying witches, giant pumpkins, breath-taking aerial displays and mardi gras-style parade.
Having listed as a top UK festival in 2016 and 2017, Paisley’s Halloween is back with ‘Something Wicked this Way Comes’ and is set to thrill and chill visitors from all over Scotland. The hugely popular event will be set against a backdrop of the town’s historic steeples and spires and rooted in the town’s history of 17th century witch trials.
The festival, supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, has been significantly enhanced for the themed year with a full town centre takeover, drawing in tens of thousands of locals and visitors – boosting business for local retailers, restaurants and hotels.
Young people are at the heart of the Festival’s development and a 20-strong Youth Panel has been working alongside Renfrewshire Council’s Events Team to design and deliver the festival programme. In addition, 180 young people will take part in a new creative learning programme with the opportunity to participate in all aspects of festival delivery from performance to live event management and technical production.
Kate McBurnie, 15, Youth Panel spokesperson, said: “It has been a great experience to be part of the festival and there are so many creative ways to get involved. I really love music and wanted to work on the soundscapes element of the lighting installations. The Parade has thrown up a lot of opportunities and we have been totally hands-on when the creative companies have asked for ideas. We are getting involved in everything from the technical side and working with aerial artists to creating large props and helping with special effects. I am really looking forward to seeing how everything will work together”.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “The opportunities that have been created for local young people around this year’s festival are exceptional and I am delighted to see the confidence and creativity with which our young people have responded. Paisley’s Halloween Festival is a remarkable event, one of the biggest of its kind, and it continues to put Paisley on the map as a destination for major cultural events.
“The programme for this year is the most ambitious yet – and will see two days of entertainment across the town centre, almost all of which will be free.
“Paisley’s young people are the real stars of the show. Through their collaboration with three of Scotland’s top creative events companies, visitors to the town will be immersed in a truly unique Halloween experience that showcases the best of Paisley and invited to step into the darker side of our history”.
Paul Bush, OBE, VisitScotland Director of Events, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Paisley Halloween Festival to expand its offering as part of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018 celebrations.
“Young people will have the chance to showcase their own unique skills and talents while getting invaluable hands-on experience.
“It is a great opportunity for young people to take a leading role in designing and delivering a fantastic event within their local community, further reinforcing Scotland as the perfect stage for events as the creative learning programme will educate the event organisers of tomorrow.”
The parade will set off from Paisley’s Art Centre at 6pm on Saturday October 27, featuring 500 young people and performers in costume, and will make its way through the town passing lighting installations and haunting soundscapes along the way. Spectacular aerial performances will take place throughout the evening with a cast of witches suspended from Paisley Town Hall.
Parade specialist, Noel Bridgeman of Bridgeman Arts has designed and constructed four enormous floats with Renfrewshire’s young people – a giant animatronic ‘Witch and Cauldron’, a ‘Day of the Dead’ funeral scene, an illuminated ‘Witch and Mushroom Patch’ and interactive ‘Pumpkin Patch Man’ which will all be revealed in The Parade, the centre piece of the festival programme. Noel said: “It is fantastic that this year’s Halloween Festival is being designed and delivered with so much creative input from local young people. Their talents and skills will shine through, making this the best Halloween event to date. It’s brilliant.”
Scotland’s leading aerial dance theatre company, All or Nothing’s director, Jennifer Paterson explains, “We jumped at the chance to choreograph a piece involving 50 young people for the Flying Witches performance around Paisley Town Hall and Abbey. Celebrating Paisley’s witchy heritage, it will look spectacular to have witches swarm the Town Hall as aerialists fly 120 feet up in the air.”
The production and pyro experts at 21CC will transform the centre of Paisley using creative lighting, sound and flame effects. Company director, Geoff Crow, explained why they just had to get involved: “We simply love Paisley’s streetscape. The 850-year old Abbey, the Cloisters and the Gardens set the perfect scene for a spectacular lighting and sound spectacle. Creating amazing experiential events and bringing people together in celebration is what drives us and is exactly what Paisley’s Halloween Festival is all about.”
Other weekend highlights include top-class performers Spark LED drummers, Beltane Fire Society and Mr Wilson’s Second Liners on the live stage. As well as big screens around the town centre, a main stage showcasing amazing acts, funfair, and cinema screening of horror films will add to the packed programme. Plus, workshops, pumpkin carving, family-friendly activities and costume balls for all ages.
You can watch the Paisley Halloween Festival 2018 trailer here:
The full programme for the Paisley Halloween Festival 2018 is available at: https://paisley.is/featured_
The festival is part of Renfrewshire’s programme of winter events which also includes the annual Spree Festival (12 to 20 October) and Paisley Fireworks Spectacular (Saturday 3 November) and Christmas Lights Switch-on (Saturday 17 November).