Paisley-Town-Hall-Scene-9075

Work to transform the future of Paisley’s much-loved town hall is due to restart – with construction workers due on site at the start of August.

The project will create 21st-century facilities inside the striking Victorian landmark while delivering improvements essential to keep the town hall at the heart of life in the town – and is taking place as part of a wider investment in Paisley’s historic venues by Renfrewshire Council.

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No work has taken place on the town hall in recent months due to the coronavirus lockdown – however with restrictions on construction sites being relaxed, workers can now safely go on site in line with national guidance.

The contract for the advance construction works on the town has been awarded to Morrison Construction and is expected to run until December.

The main construction works are expected to start next year, and while the exact impact of lockdown on the original timescale is still unclear, the project is expected to be complete before the end of 2022.

Other planned investments still being delivered in the town centre by the council include the work to transform Paisley Museum into a world-class destination showcasing the area’s unique and globally-significant story and collections, on which construction is due to start in the new year.

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And construction work is due to resume soon on the site of the new Learning and Cultural Hub on Paisley High Street, which will be the town’s new home of library services.

Cllr Lisa-Marie Hughes, chair of Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd, which operates the town hall, said: “We are pleased work is able to resume on Paisley Town Hall, which is another positive sign as the area’s economy starts to re-emerge from lockdown.

“Although the council faces a very challenging financial outlook, the town hall, museum and learning and cultural hub projects are all well under way – with years of work having already taken place on each – and we intend to see those projects through.

“In the town hall’s case, the work being planned includes investment in 21st-century facilities which will help drive new footfall to the area in the years ahead, as well as essential replacement of outdated infrastructure without which the building would not have a long-term future.

“The completed buildings will be crucial to Renfrewshire’s long-term economic prospects – our vision for Paisley town centre remains one in which we promote its unique cultural and heritage offer to bring people here.

“And while coronavirus has disrupted that work we hope our continued investment in the town hall and other venues will help the area’s economic recovery from lockdown and give confidence to our local businesses.”

The investment in the town hall is aimed at bringing new activity and vibrancy to the town while ensuring the building has a long-term future. It is planned to include:

– a complete and essential replacement of the old and outdated electrical and mechanical systems;

– the preservation of the unique architectural features within this A-listed Victorian gem;

– an expanded capacity in the main hall allowing bigger and better events and driving more footfall to the town centre, boosting the local economy;

– unused spaces brought back into use and entirely new rooms and facilities created including a new café-bar with views over the river, increasing the range of events the building can host;

– a much-improved audience experience including improved staging, lighting and seating with better views, and improved access making it easier for everyone to move around the building.

Sma shot day 2020

This weekend marks the digital debut of Paisley’s annual Sma’ Shot Day celebrations as a series of virtual events and workshops will take place to mark this important date in the town’s calendar.

Sma shot day 2020

The online event will take place on Saturday 4 July – the time when the weavers and their families would traditionally always take their holidays.

The move to take the event online for 2020 is in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure celebrations can still take place in adherence with national guidance.

The traditional Sma’ Shot holiday in Paisley takes its name from a famous dispute between the local shawl weavers and manufacturers in the 19th century. In 1856, following a long dispute, the manufacturers backed down and an agreement was reached to pay for the Sma’ Shot, the invisible stitch which bound the Paisley shawls, with a new table of prices published on 1 July 1856.

This year’s event will not only mark this important date in the town’s history but will also celebrate our fantastic key workers.

The event always offers plenty of opportunities for people to get involved and have fun and this year is no exception.

The day will kick-off in style at 12pm as The Charleston Drummer himself, Tony Lawler, will lead a mass online drum-off where the public are being encouraged to make as much noise as they can and share their celebrations on social media.

Aerial dance theatre company, All or Nothing, will be performing dance and music project – Connecting Threads – inspired by the background and history of Sma’ Shot. Everyone is invited to join in and dance along to the new Sma’ Shot inspired music track by Dave Boyd.

In the run-up to Connecting Threads local groups and individuals have been participating in online classes and creative tasks with the group and have submitted videos that will feature in a short film that can be viewed online on the day.

Local theatre company PACE will be hosting live drama workshop sessions created especially for the day – an interactive storytelling workshop suitable for 3-7 year olds and an activity-based session aimed at children aged 7 and above.

Sma’ Shot Day favourite – The Tea Dance – will also take place this year, albeit it from the comfort of your own home, as Renfrewshire Leisure and Paisley FM bring a special Sma’ Shot Day radio broadcast of this popular event.

For those who want to be fully immersed in the day’s events, local upcycled fashion innovators ReMode have put together some online video tutorials to show how people can get crafty and make their own costumes or window decorations to celebrate the day.

It would not be Sma’ Shot Day without the popular Poetry Slam. This year the spoken-word event will be known as the ‘Dooslan Staying Hame’ where people can enjoy some poetry written during lockdown and performed by some of Renfrewshire’s finest contemporary poets and spoken-word artists.

In addition, Renfrewshire Leisure and The Bungalow are partnering up for the Sma’sh Hits Sma’ Shot Special music event, showcasing a selection of local musicians.

For those looking to start Sma’ Shot weekend off early join CREATE Paisley and host Jordan Stewart for an unplugged Live Open Mic night on Friday 3 July featuring young singer/songwriters from across Renfrewshire.

This will be followed on Saturday 4 July by ‘Paisley in Song’ where people can enjoy five songs from young Renfrewshire songwriters in this exclusive online showcase. The youngsters worked alongside Paisley-songwriter Michael Cassidy to develop a set including two new collaborative songs celebrating our key workers and NHS, and three songs exploring Paisley’s incredible history of song writing and poetic legacy, written in 2019 as part of Renfrewshire Council’s THCARS2 project.

Renfrewshire’s Provost, Lorraine Cameron, said: “Sma’ Shot Day is such a popular date in the town’s calendar and it’s excellent that we can still celebrate it this year through a series of fantastic online events.

“The digital programme is packed full of fun, interactive and creative activities that the whole family can participate in and enjoy – helping to create the amazing sense of community that is always so present at this event.

“I can’t wait to welcome you all to Saturday’s event and I look forward to logging on and enjoying some of the great activities planned.”

For all the information on what’s taking place as part of this year’s digital Sma’ Shot Day and how you can get involved, please visit www.paisley.is/featured_event/sma-shot-day/.

Paisley Food and Drink Festival 2019

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “In line with national guidance from the Scottish Government on the coronavirus, we have taken the decision to cancel all large-scale Renfrewshire Council-run events until the end of June.

Paisley Food and Drink Festival 2019

“This will include the Paisley Food and Drink Festival which was due to take place on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 April and an agreement with the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) to cancel the British Pipe Band Championships in Paisley, which was set to take place on Saturday 23 May.

“We will also look to reschedule both Renfrew Gala Day and Barshaw Gala Day for the end of summer.

“We will continue to review our future events, including Sma’ Shot Day on Saturday 4 July, as the situation progresses.

“We would advise everyone to continue to observe the medical advice available at NHS Inform. For further information, please visit www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus.

“For ongoing updates to our event programme, please visit www.paisley.is.”

Paisley Halloween Parade 2018 and flying witches

Paisley Halloween Festival has been named Best Cultural Event or Festival at the Scottish Thistle Awards 2019/2020 National Final.

Organised by VisitScotland, the prestigious awards celebrate innovation, excellence and success in the Scottish tourism sector.

Paisley Halloween Parade 2018 and flying witches

Paisley Halloween Parade 2018 and flying witches

The popular event in Renfrewshire Council’s annual calendar picked up the National Award for its 2018 festival, which saw crowds of over 34,000 people flock to the town across two days to enjoy a bumper programme of spectacular aerial performances, thrilling live acts and a Mardi-Gras style parade with more than 500 costumed performers.

Inspired by the town’s dark and deathly 17th century witch history, the enhanced theme of ‘Something Wicked this Way Comes’ thrilled visitors from all over Scotland.

Judges were impressed with the seasonality of the event and the growth that it has seen in recent years. They also praised event organisers for their engagement with young people and the community.

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The festival was a highlight of VisitScotland’s Year of Young People 2018 celebrations, with young people at the heart of the festival’s development and delivery.

A 20-strong Youth Panel worked alongside Renfrewshire Council’s Events Team to design and deliver the programme, while more than 500 young people took part in a new creative learning programme. This provided young people with the opportunity to participate in all aspects of festival from performance to live event management and technical production.

 

Paisley Halloween Parade 2018 and flying witches

Paisley Halloween Parade 2018 and flying witches

The Scottish Thistle Awards is based on five regional programmes with the winners of each progressing to the National Final.

Paisley Halloween Festival was among 15 winners in the regional finals for the West in November – which included businesses and individuals from Greater Glasgow & The Clyde Valley, Ayrshire & Arran, Dumfries & Galloway and Argyll & Bute.

The National Final took place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre last night (5 March), and saw 18 individuals, businesses and events honoured for their contribution to the tourism sector.

Louisa Mahon, Renfrewshire Council’s Head of Communications, Marketing and Events, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Paisley Halloween Festival has won Best Festival in Scotland at the Scottish Thistle Awards. We were in a category with some of Scotland’s most amazing cultural events and are delighted to be keeping company with them. Well done to everyone.

Paisley Halloween Parade 2018 and flying witches

Paisley Halloween Parade 2018 and flying witches

“Paisley Halloween is one of the most highly anticipated events in our calendar – and is now regarded as one of the biggest and best of its kind in the UK.

“Winning this award continues to put Paisley on the map as a great place to visit and experience world class cultural events – and we look forward to continuing to welcome even more people to Paisley to enjoy.”

VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director Gordon Smith, said: “Congratulations to everyone at Renfrewshire Council on winning the national Scottish Thistle Award for Best Cultural Event or Festival. This is a fantastic achievement for Paisley Halloween Festival which has become one of the most anticipated events in the region’s calendars which has gone from strength to strength in recent years.

“The Scottish Thistle Awards give businesses and individuals working within tourism in Scotland the opportunity to earn the recognition and appreciation they deserve from their own industry peers.

“The impact of tourism goes far beyond the holiday experience. It is vital to the Scottish economy, reaching every corner of the country, creating jobs and bringing economic and social change.”

The Scottish Thistle Award marks another celebration for the Paisley Halloween Festival after it won Best Festival or Outdoor Event at the EventIt E Awards in June 2019.

The Paisley Halloween Festival is organised by Renfrewshire Council and the 2018 event was supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.

To find out more about the Paisley Halloween Festival, visit: https://paisley.is/featured_event/halloween/

For more information on the Scottish Thistle Awards, visit: https://www.scottishthistleawards.co.uk/

JOHN BYRNE

Legendary artist and playwright John Byrne is in line to receive his hometown’s highest honour – the Freedom of Renfrewshire.

Provost Lorraine Cameron has submitted a motion, which will be considered at this week’s council meeting, to give the award to one of Paisley’s favourite sons in recognition of his contribution to the area.

JOHN BYRNE

Playwright John Byrne revists Paisley Town Hall to back Paisleys 2012 bid for City of Culture.
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The Freedom of Renfrewshire is an honorary title and is the highest civic honour that can be bestowed upon an individual or group. It has only been awarded five times previously.

John Byrne was born in Ferguslie Park in Paisley in 1940 and is best known for writing The Slab Boys Trilogy – a set of plays telling the story of young-working class Scots in Paisley and inspired by his own experiences working in Stoddard’s Carpet Factory in Elderslie.

Alongside being an accomplished writer of stage and screen, John Byrne is known for his distinctive painting style and continues to paint and exhibit new work regularly.

John returned to Paisley on Saturday 22 February to celebrate his 80th year as part of the inaugural Paisley Book Festival. The sold-out event in Paisley Arts Centre featured readings from his plays and live music.

He will also bring his new musical play, Underwood Lane, to Paisley Arts Centre from 25-28 June for its world premiere, in partnership with Renfrewshire Leisure and Tron Theatre. The play tells the tale of a young skiffle band trying to make it and is written in memory of John’s Paisley buddy, Gerry Rafferty, who was born and brought up on the street.

Underwood Lane is the last event to be held at Paisley Arts Centre before it closes for refurbishment and is supported by Future Paisley –  a programme of economic, social and physical regeneration building on the work already done to use Paisley’s internationally-significant culture and heritage story to change its future.

Provost Lorraine Cameron said: “John is a celebrated playwriter, painter, printmaker and theatre designer and has put Paisley on the map. He continues to be committed to our local community and is treasured by citizens of Ferguslie Park, past and present, as well as the wider Renfrewshire community and its civic leaders. I’m delighted to offer him this honour and thank him for the contribution he has made to Renfrewshire.”

Opposition party leader, Councillor Eddie Devine, who seconded the motion said: “I’m delighted to second Provost Cameron’s motion to award the Freedom of Renfrewshire to John Byrne, in recognition of his achievements and commitment to Renfrewshire. Throughout his successful career he has never forgotten his roots.”

If approved, the Freedom of Renfrewshire will officially be awarded to John Byrne later this year. Find out more about the Freedom of Renfrewshire at  http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/freedomofrenfrewshire

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A first-of-its kind study with radical ideas for how Paisley town centre could look in a decade has been published – and aims to start a conversation about what might be possible in the town.

The ‘Vision for Paisley Town Centre 2030’ is the result of a unique link-up between Renfrewshire Council, the Scottish Government and Scotland’s Town Partnership – and uses Paisley as a test case for a series of bold ideas imagining how empty retail space could be better used

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Aileen Campbell, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, will officially unveil the report at an event in the town centre today.

The study – produced by Glasgow-based Threesixty Architecture – is based on the idea changes to the way people shop have left towns like Paisley with far more retail space than they need

The authors lay out a series of radical ideas for how the town could be rebalanced to better meet community need – bringing with it new life and footfall. Their suggestions include:

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– introducing hundreds of new town centre residents, including repurposing the Paisley Centre shopping centre into a new residential quarter with ground-floor retail;

– new ‘attractors’ such as a High Street cinema, or European-style food hall housing independent food and drink businesses;

– bolstering remaining retail by concentrating it back on to the High Street and street-fronts;

– new public spaces for outdoor activity, and new lanes and streets creating new views and routes to ‘hidden’ parts of the town centre

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– how key vacant historic buildings such as the Liberal Club, YMCA building and TA Building could be brought back into use;

– other ideas such as shared office spaces or makers’ spaces, a new hotel, and relocating parts of university and college campuses into the heart of the town centre;

Cabinet Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “This study represents another significant milestone in the regeneration of Paisley and is further evidence of the ambition and commitment of the local community and partners.

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“A huge opportunity now exists to use this collaborative vision to create more positive change in the town, as well as sharing learning which can benefit other town centres and communities across Scotland.

“The Scottish Government will continue to work in partnership with local government to support the regeneration of our towns and high streets.”

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “The way people shop has changed forever, and towns everywhere are seeing the same issues with empty retail space.

“We can’t turn the clock back but we can consider how we could change to attract new life and footfall in future – and that’s what Paisley is doing.

“It’s important to stress these are not concrete plans – they are a set of ideas designed to spark a conversation about what might be possible over the next decade.

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“Paisley town centre is already changing for the better – the number of new cafes and restaurants and new housing built in recent years shows it is recognised as a good place to live and invest.

“Current and future council investment will make Paisley even more attractive to the private sector, but change of the scale imagined by the Vision could not be achieved by the council alone – so we want to hear from developers who could make that next stage of the journey happen.”

The contents of the report build on work already happening to use Paisley’s unique cultural and heritage story to transform its future through the Future Paisley programme, which aims to build on the momentum created by the town’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021.

That includes a £100m investment in the town’s venues and outdoor spaces, including turning Paisley Museum into a world-class destination for the town’s internationally-significant collections, which last week saw £3.8m of funding confirmed from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Paisley is already finding new uses for vacant High Street spaces – construction will start soon to bring a formerly-empty retail unit back into use as a new learning and cultural hub housing library services, for which the first images have just been revealed.

That will build on the success of Paisley: The Secret Collection – the UK’s first publicly-accessible High Street museum store, which opened in 2017 – showing Paisley’s ambitions to put culture at the heart of its future high street are already being realised.

The Paisley Vision was produced after gathering feedback from key local partners – including community groups, businesses, educational establishments and private developers.

The idea for a High Street cinema is already being taken forward by a local group – the Paisley Community Trust – who, with support from the council, are developing their own plans to convert an existing building for that purpose.

Gary Kerr, chair of the Paisley Community Trust, said: ““It’s exciting to see such a transformational and radical vision for Paisley’s future revealed. Paisley Community Trust fully back this new vision for Paisley and we congratulate Threesixty Architecture on producing a superb piece of work.

“It’s particularly encouraging to see cinema at the forefront of the vision. This completely aligns with our current plans to bring cinema back to the heart of our town.

“We believe a cinema by and for our community is a vital first step in realising the wider vision for regeneration in the town centre. It’s Project One if you like.

“We’ve been working behind the scenes on it for a while now and will reveal more details very soon. We also look forward to seeing the other concepts from the vision being explored and developed into regeneration projects of their own in the years ahead.”

Colette Cardosi, chair of town centre business improvement district Paisley First, added: “In recent years, Paisley has found itself firmly back on the map with fantastic events for visitors and a growing number of independent businesses.

“However, like many towns throughout the country, we need to continuously adapt and evolve and Paisley First welcomes collaboration on any long-term strategy for the future which can help bring in new investment and new footfall to local businesses in Paisley town centre.”

Phil Prentice, chief officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, added: “Paisley has a rich tapestry of heritage and culture, is steeped in industry and tradition, and has many major assets.

“We hope this exciting blueprint can create a high street fit for 21st century citizens and Paisley can become an exemplar for other large towns across Scotland.”

Alan Anthony, managing director of Threesixty Architecture, who authored the Vision, said: “This study shows a people-first approach that reconnects the whole community to their town centre.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to rebalance our High Street back to a place with a rich mix of uses. As a lifelong Paisley Buddy, it’s exciting to think Paisley could lead the way on town centre regeneration in Scotland.”

The council now hopes to hear from developers who are interested in investing in Paisley – with one firm which has already done so believing a template for success already exists.

Brian Clark, managing director of Park Lane Developments, said: “We believe  Park Lane’s partnership with Renfrewshire Council on the regeneration of the former Arnotts department store has already shown the way for how the public and private sector can work together to transform a town centre site.

“That project has already delivered 67 completed private and social rented housing along with the welcome addition of the Pendulum restaurant. The final phase is just about to go for planning and will bring an additional 70  new homes.

“The site was derelict for 10 years and is now back in beneficial use bringing new residents and activity back into the town centre – and shows the potential that exists in Paisley as a place to live and invest.”

Residents and businesses have the chance to see and give their views on the Paisley Vision plans for themselves at a public exhibition open in POP (the former Post Office) in the town’s Piazza shopping centre – on Friday 24 (1 to 4.30pm), Saturday 25 (9.30am to 4.30pm) and Monday 27 January (9.30am to 3pm).

The full report can also be viewed online at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/paisleyvision, along with a Q&A which goes into more details on the ideas it contains and what happens next.

Paisley Halloween Festival

Paisley’s popular Halloween and Spree 2019 festivals delivered a £1.2million economic boost to Renfrewshire.

That’s according to the findings of independent assessments into the two October events, which also showed record numbers of people attended the festivals in 2019.

Paisley Halloween Festival

One of the largest events of its kind in the UK, the Dark Circus themed Paisley Halloween Festival attracted 41,000 people across the two-days – up 17% on 2018. The event was delivered alongside internationally-acclaimed outdoor theatre specialists, Cirque Bijou.

More than 350 costumed performers and community groups took part in the Mardi Gras style parade, the centrepiece of the festival, which wound its way through the town centre. The parade also featured fantastic, giant lion and elephant floats, ferocious fire performers, creepy clowns and curious creatures, to delight the gathered crowds.

Gerry Rafferty Song Book

Twenty six percent of attendees to the Halloween festival were from outside Renfrewshire demonstrating the popularity and stellar programme of the free, family-friendly activities on offer.

The Paisley Halloween Festival was awarded £16,950 of National Programme funding from EventScotland for the 2019 event.

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The festival delivered £824,250 to the local economy with local businesses benefiting from the high number of visitors in the town that weekend.

Paisley Halloween Festival scooped the Best Cultural Event or Festival at the 2019/20 Scottish Thistle Awards West Scotland regional finals and will now go on to compete in the prestigious national final on March 5, 2020.

Glasvagas

The Spree also delivered impressive results for the area. More than 12,000 festival-goers turned out to enjoy the diverse range of acts in the stunning Salon Perdu Spiegeltent in Paisley’s County Square – allowing for more people to enjoy the performances.

The numbers also add up, with a £411,000 total economic boost from the 10-day music, arts and cultural festival.

Paisley Halloween Festival

The Spree 2019 saw record ticket sales with music and comedy fans being treated to sell-out shows from Hue and Cry, Glasvegas, The Snuts, Jerry Sadowitz and spectacular performances from Soul legend PP Arnold, Hayseed Dixie, Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook and two Friday comedy nights compered by Fred MacAulay and Scott Gibson.

The festival was programmed by Regular Music and sponsored by Tennent’s Lager.

There was also a packed Wee Spree programme for kids during the school holidays with 2,822 people heading along to enjoy the events – the highest number of attendees on record for the event.

The festival also provided a boost to local traders with many festival-goers choosing to Spend Local and sample the great bars, restaurants and cafes in the area.

Jacqueline McCaig, owner of The Old Swan Inn which hosted the Spree Festival Club of daily events during the festival, said: “We absolutely loved hosting the Spree Festival Club at The Old Swan – it was a fantastic week of live music. The pub was really busy with a great atmosphere and a great mix of customers old and new, who came to see what the Festival Club was all about and enjoy the variety of talent we had on show.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “It was phenomenal to see such great numbers coming along to Paisley’s Halloween Festival and to Spree and now this report shows the positive impact these major events have on the local economy and local businesses.

“We’re continuing to work with partners to offer a fantastic calendar of events to attract residents and visitors from across Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“Renfrewshire has so much to offer and major events are an important part of our plans to use our culture and heritage to drive footfall and cement our status as one of Scotland’s top visitor destination.”

Paisley Halloween Festival - Copyright Chris Watt
cenotaph

The Paisley Development Trust would like you to participate in our annual remembrance of the victims of the Glen Cinema Disaster in 1929.

cenotaph

We meet at the Cenotaph at 10.30am on the 31st December and support the few survivors that are left and their families during the short ceremony and afterwards join them in a cup of tea in Burger and Keg in Gilmour street.

We would be delighted if you were able to attend.

Fireworks2019

More than 16,000 turned out in Paisley town centre on Saturday to watch a dazzling display of fireworks be set off against the backdrop of the town’s iconic Abbey.

Fireworks2019

The crowd wrapped up in the thickest woollies to watch the magnificent array of Catherine wheels, rockets and sparklers on display backed by a soundtrack of popular 90s classic hits.

The event started with Gus from Pulse FM welcoming crowds with music and banter at 6.30pm before the main event at 7pm.

Fireworks2019

Paisley’s winter events programme will continue with the town’s Christmas Lights Switch-On on Saturday 16 November. There will be plenty of Christmas family fun including the popular Santa Parade in the town centre, Christmas Choir concerts, Santa’s Grotto and much more.

Visitors will also be able to enjoy exciting street artists, fantastic performances on the live stage and even head along to the festive roller disco.

The festive fun will also extend across Renfrewshire with Christmas Lights Switch-Ons in Renfrew on Saturday 23 November and Johnstone on Saturday 30 November.

The town centre also sees the return of the WinterFest event from 23 November until 30 December, run by Paisley First, featuring an outdoor ice rink, LEGO Paisley Penguin Parade Trail and plenty of festive fun.

For more information about Renfrewshire events, visit: https://paisley.is/list_event/