She was infamous for not being amused but even Queen Victoria would have raised a smile as her statue was one of a string across Paisley to be yarn bombed.

Passers-by stopped in their tracks when they saw the legendary monarch, who stands in Dunn Square, sporting a specially created tartan crinoline skirt and traffic cone crown.

The William Dunn memorial was also dressed and given silver knitted cups to mark the fact it used to be a water fountain.

Robert Tannahill’s statue in Abbey Close also enjoyed a makeover with the town’s famous weaver poet dressed in a knitted scarf with musical notes, waistcoat and gaiters.

A knitted lawn with flowers completed the yarn bombing to mark his catalogue of songs and poems celebrating nature.

The installations are part of the Winter Coats yarn bombing project, where a series of local groups worked with textile artists Ashley Holdsworth and Bex Smith to research historical figures and then create a garment for them.

With the support of the NHS’s Network Services, Capability Scotland, the Phoenix Activity Group, Craft to Recover, Laugh n Craft, the Disability Resource Centre and patients from wards at Dykebar and Leverndale all took part.

Their colourful creations were installed to coincide with the start of Renfrewshire’s contribution to the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.

The display of street art also saw statues of Sir Peter and Thomas Coats beside Dunn Square dressed in a Paisley pattern kilt and a waistcoat decorated with thread and ribbon to represent the family’s textiles empire and history.

At the town’s Russell Institute, where local children used to receive their inoculations, some of the infant statues were draped with sock teddy bunting. The cuddly toys were crafted to come with miniature slings and walking sticks in recognition of the institute’s child welfare clinic roots.

The town’s other illustrious textile family weren’t forgotten, with George Clark’s statue given a mortar board in honour of his family’s passion for education.

Renowned ornithologist and poet Alexander Wilson’s statue at Abbey Close was yarn bombed with a bird cage and birds.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “The project is a fitting contribution to the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival and shows how the different groups all researched and understood the history of the statues and who they commemorate.

“It’s a great way of shining a light on our unique cultural heritage as we bid to be UK City of Culture for 2021. “

The Winter Coats initiative is part of a wider five year project, Renfrewshire Council’s Paisley Townscape Heritage Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme 2.

It has also received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland and has a total budget of £4.5m.

Ten per cent of the funding is allocated to a Cultural and Heritage programme which aims to engage the community in the architectural and textiles heritage of Paisley.

Lucy Casot, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland said: “Thanks to funds raised through the National Lottery, a new sense of belief and pride in Paisley’s past is growing. Fun projects like this, rooted in the town’s historic past clearly demonstrate the creative spirit alive today.

“We have invested in many projects across the town which have seen historic buildings restored, communities exploring their heritage and also confirmed our latest commitment with initial support for the transformational plans for Paisley’s museum.”

Michael Easson from Historic Environment Scotland, which partly funded the project, said: “It’s exciting to see an innovative and fun new initiative to engage people across myriad backgrounds with their local built environment.

“I hope this brings a wider awareness to the Renfrewshire Mental Health Arts Festival as well as the Historic Environment Scotland supported Paisley TH.CARS2 scheme.”

The practice of yarn bombing is thought to have started in the US by Texas knitters who wanted to find a creative way to use their leftover and unfinished knitting projects. It’s since been adopted across the globe.

A wider network of groups have also been making scarves to tie onto railings which will be donated to the homeless service in Paisley’s Abercorn Street.

Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 has been boosted by a massive £45.7m town centre investment package to help the town host the title, given the green light today by councillors.

A meeting of Renfrewshire Council agreed to set aside funds for major infrastructure projects which support the wider push to transform Paisley’s future using the power of its internationally-significant heritage and cultural story.

Paisley Town Hall lit up in support of the bid

The news comes as the town – the only Scottish place to make the final UK City of Culture 2021 shortlist – prepares to submit its bid to the UK Government’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport tomorrow.

Today’s investment will support the long-term future of some of the town’s historic venues and the wider regeneration of Paisley – while also ensuring the town is ready to host the 2021 title should it be announced as the winner. It includes:

– £22m for a major modernisation of Paisley Town Hall. The 135-year-old venue will get a replacement electrical system as well as an extensive programme of improvements covering an improved main hall, stage and lighting, plus a new function suite, kitchen and bar;

– £10m set aside for town centre transport and public realm improvements to support both the 2021 bid and the long-term regeneration of the town centre. That will include investment to road, public transport and pedestrian access, and improvements to buildings and lighting;

– a £7.7million redevelopment at St James playing field including an area for large outdoor events, upgraded grass pitches, new pavilion and café; and an upgrade to Ferguslie Park Sports Centre;

– £3.5m set aside to turn the disused Galbraiths warehouse in Back Sneddon Street into a venue capable of hosting large-scale art exhibitions such as the Turner Prize, which typically goes to the UK City of Culture host. This money will only be spent should Paisley win the 2021 title;

– £2.5m for a wide-ranging revamp of Paisley Arts Centre including improved a replacement electrical system and toilets, dressing rooms, seats and staging, as well as access improvements.

The money committed today is over and above funding previously set aside for three projects already under way – the new museum store set to open in a basement of a high street unit later this year, the new Paisley library to be built further up the same street, and a £42m revamp of Paisley Museum, for which it was announced yesterday £4.9m of National Lottery money has been earmarked.

Paisley is joined on the final UK City of Culture 2021 shortlist by Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland, and Swansea, with a decision due in December. There has never been a Scottish winner. The bid is due to be sent off tomorrow with a mass public show of support at Paisley Cross from 10.30am.

Today’s investment comes as a local group – the Paisley Community Trust – prepare to unveil their own plans for a cinema and theatre complex in the town centre.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “The package of measures unveiled today shows the scale of our ambition for Paisley and Renfrewshire over the next decade.

“We are making sure Paisley is equipped to host the UK City of Culture title while also supporting the wider vision to use our unique and internationally-significant heritage and cultural story to transform the area’s future.

“Paisley town centre needs a boost – and the way we can deliver that is by using what sets us apart to bring people back into the town.

“Paisley has massive potential as a visitor destination and is already making a name for itself as an event venue. Improving the physical and travel infrastructure of the town centre makes it easier for people to get here, and a more attractive place to spend time.

“The work already under way on the new museum store and library – with plans to transform the museum also in the pipeline – are the first steps towards turning our high street into a culture street, bringing new life and footfall which will allow traders to thrive.

“At the same time, the scale of the investment in the town hall and arts centre will make these two outstanding listed buildings fit for the 21st century as venues capable of hosting the type of international-class programming which the UK City of Culture year will bring.

“And to have a local group preparing to unveil their own set of plans for an arts venue in the town centre just shows the extent to which the wider community and private sector see the potential of what culture can do for Paisley.

“There is nothing which could transform Paisley more than winning the UK City of Culture 2021 title – the journey we want to go on will move to a totally different level, with a year of major events and world-class programming which everybody will be invited to enjoy and benefit from.

“We need this title and Paisley Buddies have shown they want it to happen – this investment will mean we will be ready and able to host it, and I commend councillors for the long-term vision they have shown today.”

It is estimated Paisley’s 2021 year could bring a £175m economic boost and create and sustain more than 4,700 jobs over a ten-year period, while attracting more than 800,000 visitors in 2021.

Current UK City of Culture hosts Hull have seen £1 billion of investment since winning the title in 2013, with the city attracting 1.4m visitors in just the first three months of its year in the spotlight.

For more information on Paisley’s bid, see

The spectacular programme has been revealed for this year’s winter events season in Paisley – with Northern Irish rockers Ash set to headline the town’s annual Christmas Lights Switch On.

Paisley’s winter events programme will begin with the two-day Halloween Festival on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 October. The special 80’s themed Paisley Fireworks Spectacular will take place on the Saturday 4 November with the ever-popular Christmas Lights Switch On taking place two weeks later on Saturday 18 November.

Paisley Winter Events package.
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Winter events excitement will extend across Renfrewshire with live music and free family entertainment taking place at Christmas Lights Switch Ons in Renfrew on Saturday 25 November and Johnstone on Saturday 2 December. The annual MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards comes to Paisley for the first time ever and will be held at Paisley Town Hall on Saturday 2 December.

Programme highlights include:

  • the spooktacular Halloween Parade through Paisley town centre with a stunning fire monster on a Paisley Chariot, New Orleans style street band Mr Wilson’s Second Liners Band, the Spark! Drummers and much more.


  • a spectacular Fire Garden and Fire Stage at Bridge Street with soundscapes, projections and illuminations to make for a real extravaganza of sight and sound in Abbey Close.


  • a night of music, haunted performers and spooky goings-on with a Halloween Ball at Paisley Town Hall and Friday Fright Night at Paisley Museum, organised by Renfrewshire Leisure.


  • an 80s themed Silent Disco in Paisley Town Hall during the afternoon and broadcast from Clyde One DJs in the evening ahead of the Paisley Fireworks Spectacular at Abbey Close.


  • The famous Reindeer Parade starting and finishing on Paisley High Street before Santa opens his grotto outside the Paisley Centre.


  • a Live Stage with performance by music headliners Ash before Paisley’s festive season is officially marked with the annual Christmas Lights Switch On.

The winter season is part of a wider programme of events in Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

Paisley was this summer named as the only Scottish location on the shortlist for the title, alongside Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.

The bid is part of a wider push to use Paisley’s unique heritage and cultural story to transform the future of the whole Renfrewshire area, with the final bid document due to be submitted to the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at the end of the month.

Paisley 2021 Bid Director Jean Cameron said: “The Halloween Festival, Fireworks Spectacular and Christmas Lights Switch On are established favourites in the town’s events calendar – and this year Paisley’s winter events programme is even bigger and better than ever.

“One of the key aims of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 is to showcase the town’s proven track record in hosting a diverse range of major cultural activities and the winter events programme highlights just that.”

Tim Wheeler, frontman of Ash, said: “We’re really looking forward to playing Paisley for the switching on of the Christmas lights this year. Hopefully our tunes will get the elves dancing and the Christmas spirit flowing.”

Santa Claus, who visited the town for the launch of Paisley’s winter events programme, is looking forward to the Christmas Lights Switch On and said: “It will be a happy, wonderful occasion. Paisley’s real strength is its great people and I know they’ll turn out to see me and enjoy the night.”

Gerry Lyons, DJ for the 80s themed Silent Disco and family fun at the Fireworks Spectacular, said: “The eighties was a great decade for music and I’ll be playing everything from classic pop like Wham through to power ballads and iconic tunes like Michael Jackson’s thriller. The silent disco will see people in the room listen to different music through head phones, so they’re dancing to different tunes and it’s great fun.”

Find out more information at

town hall spring

A major package of capital investment in Paisley town centre is set to be considered by Renfrewshire councillors when they meet next week.

Plans being put forward propose a package of investment totalling £45.7million in refurbishment and upgrades to Paisley Town Hall, Paisley Arts Centre, a new venue at the former Galbraith’s site on Back Sneddon Street in the town; improvements to Paisley town centre as well as an upgrade to St James Playing field.

town hall spring

Paisley Town Hall

The plans are part of the town’s final bid for the UK City of Culture 2021 competition, which is also being considered by councillors next week, with a decision on the winner expected by the end of the year.

Paisley was this summer named as the only Scottish bidder on the shortlist for the 2021 competition, alongside Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.

The bid is part of a wider push to use Paisley’s unique cultural and heritage offer to make it a key visitor destination within Scotland, and transform the future of the whole Renfrewshire area.

Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “The whole of Renfrewshire has such a rich heritage and world class local talent and this investment will bring significant benefit to communities right across the region.

“Culture and heritage can play such a transformational role in supporting our local economy and improving the opportunities and wellbeing for our communities, investing in improvements to our existing venues and our town centre environment, we can make a real change in the fortunes of the area.

“Winning the title will boost the local economy by £175million, create more than 4,700 local jobs in the area, boost our tourism industry and improve the profile of the area, showing investors how much Renfrewshire has to offer.”

The plans include:

£22million for Paisley Town Hall – to increase performance attendances and attract high quality events to improve the visitor experience and improve the physical infrastructure of the building to secure its long term future

£2.5 million for Paisley Arts Centre – to upgrade electrical works, improve toilet provision, provide changing accommodation for performers, new seating, improved staging, redecoration and improved access arrangements

£10million improvements to Paisley town centre – include improved access into the town centre, pedestrian and cycling routes, public transport, local traffic improvements and investment in the physical appearance of the town centre

£3.5million to transform the former Galbraith’s building on Back Sneddon Street to provide a venue for performance and visual art events.

£7.7million redevelopment of facilities at St James playing field including an upgrade to grass pitches, a new pavilion and café, and an area to accommodate large scale events; and an upgrade to the existing Ferguslie Park Sports Centre.

ACTOR Chris Alexander is swapping New York for New Street, in Paisley to take the role of the Dame in this year’s PACE panto, Snowhite.

Scots-born Chris performed in New York as part of Ramesh Meyyappan’s production of Butterfly, which was part of the Brits Off Broadway Festival, at the 59E59 Theatre, in Manhattan, last year.

And earlier this year, Chris was back in the USA with the same production – an adaptation of Madame Butterfly – staged in Millersville, Pennsylvania.

But the Paisley Arts Centre, in New Street will be Chris’s stage from November 25 until December 30 when he stars in the Snowhite panto.

Also appearing in the panto, written and directed by Ross Stenhouse are professional actors Chloe Lupton, as Snowhite; Dani Heron, as the Evil Queen; Danny Holmes, as The Prince and Nathan Byrne, taking the comic lead.

And of course, there will also be 100 local youngsters who are members of PACE, taking part in the hilarious adaptation of the traditional panto.

Tickets only recently went on sale and already more than half the seats have been snapped up.
The show is produced by PACE panto stalwart, Alan Orr who also takes on the role of musical director.
Alan said: “Everyone at PACE is working their socks off to make this the biggest and best panto we’ve ever done.

“We’ll be performing a magical, fun-filled family show with laughter every step of the way and loads of audience participation.

“Our Dame, Chris Alexander is a very experienced actor and is a really funny guy. He’s got natural comic timing and has experience performing in panto many times before.”

Tickets, priced from £9.50p are available from the Arts Centre Box Office, by logging on or by calling 0300 300 1210.


Paisley’s annual The Spree festival has unveiled its family programme offering a range of performances and activities to help keep the kids entertained this October break.

The bumper music, comedy and arts festival, which is now in its sixth year and taking place as part of Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021, will take place from Friday 13 to Tuesday 24 October with a jam packed programme of activities for the family.


The majority of the shows under the family programme are free to attend and will offer a range of experiences for kids.

The National Theatre of Scotland will perform their fantastically fun new show Rocket Post which has a great mix of songs and storytelling and is full of humour, heart and hope for the future. The show is based on a true story set in the Western Isles in 1934. It’s a tale of miscommunication, vaulting ambition and the joyous discoveries that happen when everything goes wrong.

Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Scotland, said: “I am thrilled that the National Theatre of Scotland is able to take part in the fabulous festival that is  The Spree, this year, and  share our delightful new family show Rocket Post and accompanying workshop with Paisley audiences.”

Those looking for an exciting challenge can take part in Big Telly Company’s Operation Paisley: Alien Pursuit, a game for families where they are challenged with deciphering a number of clues as a team.

Little ones will be kept entertained with a range of activities from interactive Bookbug sessions and opportunities to meet Badger the Mystical Mutt, star of a series of chart-topping illustrated children’s books. There will also be old favourites like the Punch & Judy puppet show in the town.

Also taking place over the festival is a comedy show written and performed by kids who have participated in workshops where they will learn how to write and deliver sketches based on their own funny experiences. Meanwhile music fans can learn more about Gaelic singing and drumming at Fèis Phàislig Workshops or find their groove with the award-winning Buddy Beat group.

For older kids interested in digital art they will have the opportunity to participate in a digital graffiti board session where they can also learn about coding with Computer Xplorers. Craft enthusiasts can unleash their creative flair at jewellery workshops while budding artists and writers can join AS Creatives for a range of activity workshops covering everything from art to creative writing and poetry.

Paisley 2021 bid director, Jean Cameron, said: “The Spree programme this year offers so many opportunities for kids of all ages to get involved and explore their talents by sampling a diverse range of creative activities.

“The scale and range of acts and activities taking place as part of The Spree has continued to grow in recent years and is now firmly established as a key date in Scotland’s festival calendar. This year is shaping up to be the best yet, with a number of unique performances in support of Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021. It really will offer something for everyone.”

The Spree will also feature acts such as Paolo Nutini and Frightened Rabbit alongside the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, who will be performing at Paisley’s iconic 12th century Abbey during the festival. Much of the action will take place in a specially-erected Spiegeltent in the town centre, which will host trad acts such as Dougie MacLean and Canada’s De Temps Antan. While the Paisley Arts Centre will welcome Emma Pollock and RM Hubbert among a host of other acts.

This year’s festival is supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.

Places for many of the family activities and performances can be booked online at

Tickets can be bought online at and from Renfrewshire Leisure on 0300 300 1210. Tickets are also on sale in InCube Shop, 9b Gilmour Street; PaisleyArts Centre, New Street; and Feel the Groove, Causeyside Street.

Thousands of people descended on Paisley town centre on Friday 30 June – Sunday 2 July for the first-ever Weave festival, celebrating the town’s radical history and heritage.

The bumper weekend was taking place alongside the annual Sma’ Shot celebrations – one of the world’s oldest workers festivals.

Video Courtesy of Paisley 2021 For City of Culture.

Glasgow Kelvin student, Carol Turner, will auction a painting to raise funds for survivors of acid attacks in India.

the artwork being auctioned

An exhibition of works with life model, Carol, her image will be on display in Paisley Arts Centre from 26 July.

Offering to help model Fashion Show designs for fellow students at Glasgow Kelvin College has changed the outlook of NC Business student, Carol Turner, and spurred her on to raise funds for Make Love Not Scars, an Indian charity which reconstructs, rehabilitates and supports survivors of horrific acid attacks.

Fashion Design students at Glasgow Kelvin College have established strong international links with Guntur Polytechnic for Women in Andhra Pradesh, which have encouraged them to celebrate cross-cultural influences.

Supported by the UK India Education Research Institute, they received funding to visit and exchange design skills and knowledge with their counterparts in Andhra Pradesh.  It was a life-changing experience for all the students involved, enhancing their talents and widening their world view.  This was evident last year in a celebration of the Paisley Pattern at the highly successful UKIERI Fashion Show in partnership with Renfrewshire Council held at Paisley Abbey.

Through the links with Indian partners, the College has become involved with Make Love Not Scars which retrains survivors and links them with employers under the ‘Skills not Scars’ banner.

As a direct result of exchange visits to India, the Fashion students got behind this very worthwhile campaign and their Fashion Show in May this year helped them to raise the impressive sum of £3,560 for the ‘Help Sonia’ initiative.  Sonia is a transgender acid-attack survivor and, in keeping with the College’s equality and inclusion priorities, the students’ contribution has made a significant difference to the support funds being raised for Sonia, her extensive surgical needs and her rehabilitation.

Carol Turner, who is also an artists’ life model, had volunteered to strut the students’ fabulous designs on the catwalk and was stunned to discover the reasons for the fundraising when the Make Love Not Scars video was aired.

She says;

“I was really pleased to help our Fashion students model their designs at the Fashion Show and initially had no idea about their fundraising for Make Love Not Scars.  I felt very privileged to be part of that achievement and was so moved by the video from MLNS that I knew I wanted to help the campaign further.

“I hope that what I’m doing with the Silent Auction will help in some small way to support these very brave survivors of acid attacks and that people will be made aware of this very worthwhile charity.”

An admired life-model for artists worldwide, Carol is staging an exhibition of her image as it has been portrayed through their works.  This is set to take place at Paisley Arts Centre, launching on 26 July at 6pm and will display around 20 works, many from local artists, featuring her image.

The exhibition will include works by David Horner (Australian Artist from Dynamic Drawing Group), Andrew Horner, Carol McGoldrick, Gordon Simpson, Irene Blackwood, William Britton and Robert Wilson.  Some of the work was created at the Oakshaw Building Life Drawing Group which meets every other Friday at 10am.

To make her own contribution, Carol will auction a piece by Australian artist, David Horner to help raise funds for Make Love Not Scars.

With the announcement that Paisley has been shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2021, the cultural links with India through the Paisley Pattern are very pertinent and it is fitting that the works are being exhibited at Paisley Art Centre.

Director of Business Development at the College, Alastair McGhee, said;

“The students at Glasgow Kelvin College never cease to amaze me in their commitment and professionalism.  The impact that their fundraising will have on the lives of survivors is massive – it will certainly change the lives of those experiencing these terrible injuries.

“It is humbling to see how the efforts of our students at Glasgow Kelvin College will result in such positive outcomes for acid attack survivors.  We wish Carol every success in her exhibition and her fundraising.”

The campaign team from Make Love Not Scars have also had wind of the auction.  Tania, their Fundraising Campaign worker, has been in touch with Carole, saying;

“Carole, the painting is just stunning and thank you so much for dedicating this art to our cause!”

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said;

“Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture is about showcasing our connections around the globe. Our rich textile heritage is deeply rooted in the Indian flower motif now known as the Paisley Pattern and it’s great to continue our connection through fashion, art and creativity.

“The message behind Make Love Not Scars is one that has become relevant to talk about in the UK with the recent acid attacks taking place down in London. Attacks like these are devastating to the victim, both physically and mentally and no one should have to suffer such an attack.

“I wish Carol every success in her inspiring exhibition and for her fundraising that will benefit many people affected by these devastating attacks.”

MUSIC fans are getting the chance to see a performance by the band voted the Best Group in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017.

Furrow Collective

The Furrow Collective is playing Paisley Arts Centre, this Sunday, June 18 at 7.30pm.

And not only did they lift the group accolade at the Radio 2 Folk Awards, band member Rachel Newton won Musician of the Year.

The group is made up of four soloists – Alasdair Roberts, Emily Portman, Lucy Farrell and Rachel Newton – who combine to create a band that shows their collective love of tradition music.

The Furrow Collective has been in demand as a touring band, gigging throughout Europe and performing BBC live sessions. They released their latest album ‘Wild Hog’ on Hudson Records last year to critical acclaim.

Each band member leads a song, moving with ease from jaunty stories of ailing horses, to poignant laments and sparsely adorned supernatural ballads.

Tickets, at £10 and £8 concessions, are still available for the gig by logging on to or calling 0300 300 1210 or from Paisley Arts Centre on the night.

Stuart Mitchell Interview

Following the runaway success of his 2016 Fringe debut ‘Dealt a Bad Hand’ BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Breaking the News’ panelist Stuart Mitchell brings his critically acclaimed show to Paisley Arts Centre on Friday 9th June. You can read more about Stuart here.

The interview was conducted by our very own Peter Greenwood.