Bars in Glasgow with free live music
Bars in Glasgow with free live music
As the UK’s first UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow has a lively music scene. Find out where to stumble upon free live music, from traditional to jazz, in city bars.
Traditional Scottish bars with live music
The Islay Inn
Scottish bands set up in the bar each Friday and Saturday evening in The Islay Inn to play a range of traditional tunes and well-known covers. Visit islayinn.com for info.
The Park Bar
The Park Bar has been on the go since 1895. Expect an impressive selection of Scottish drinks and the chance to hear traditional musicians each Thursday to Sunday. Visit parkbarglasgow.com for more information on this lively Scottish pub.
The Ben Nevis Bar
One of the city's best known Scottish bars is The Ben Nevis Bar with its Highland Bothy feel. Traditional music sessions run each Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday (8pm to 11ish), with a few core musicians and guests each week. No two sessions are the same! Find out more at thebennevisbar.co.uk.
The Snaffle Bit
Expect a friendly welcome and live music, ranging from traditional fiddle sounds to singalong guitar, on an ad-hoc basis. Visit belhavenpubs.co.uk for details on where to find this old school bar.
Built on the site of an old monastery, Babbity Bowster is a laid-back bar and restaurant with an open fire place. They run live trad music sessions each Saturday (3-6pm). Check out babbitybowster.com to find out more.
Music at historic city bars
Named after the Gaelic word for the River Clyde, The Clutha is a Glasgow institution with over 200 years of history. Famous fans include the likes of Billy Connolly, Jimmy Reid, Spike Milligan and Frank Zappa, some of whom feature on a gigantic mural outside the bar. Follow The Clutha on Facebook to find out about their live music, which is on every evening.
Across the road from The Clutha is The Scotia. Founded in 1792, The Scotia has a history of radical politics and attracted performers such as Billy Connolly and Gerry Rafferty. Visit The Scotia’s website for more info on their live music offering, on every Wednesday to Sunday.
Macsorley's has been a local favourite for over 100 years. Just 2 minutes walk from Central Station, Macsorley's has free live music 6 nights a week (closed Mondays). Solo acts perform Tuesday to Friday from 7-10pm, while at the weekends, solo acts perform from 3-7pm with bands on from 8-11pm. Visit Macsorley's website for more info.
The State Bar
After 25 years, the State Bar Blues Night is the UK's longest continuously running weekly blues jam at the same venue and with the same house band. Follow The State Bar blues jam on Facebook to find out when to see them.
Well-known Glasgow music haunts
The Machair Bar
Sister restaurant to the The Ben Nevis Bar is The Machair Bar on Great Western Road. The modern Scottish whisky bar attracts talented musicians to perform at their 'Machair Monday' and 'Tuesday Trad' sessions (both from 8pm). Check out machairbar.com for details.
Sweeney's on the Park
This southside neighbourhood bar has live music to accommodate all tastes. Monday evenings are informal jam sessions; Tuesday is trad music sessions; Wednesday late afternoon is a Rat Pack swing band and Saturdays is folk and blues with well-known Glasgow band Cahoots. The full schedule is available to view on Sweeneys on the Park's website.
This beautiful west end pub with its stained glass windows and old-worldy feel is a lovely spot to relax in to live music. They have Tuesday afternoon jazz sessions (3-6pm) and Sunday sessions (5-8pm). Follow The Lismore on Twitter for details.
With 6 bars over 3 levels, Waxy O' Connor's is a labyrinth of staircases and passages. You can enjoy regular live music in the Church Bar every Thursday to Sunday, from traditional music to well-known covers. Visit Waxy's Facebook page for details.
The Butterfly and the Pig
The shabby chic city centre restaurant and bar run a range of free music evenings including: Open mic (Tuesday) Jazz evening hosted by a Glasgow Jazz group (Wednesday); Live music with a different band each week (Friday and Saturday). Keep up-to-date via The Butterfly and the Pig's Facebook page.
The Howlin’ Wolf
Live Blues takes place in The Howlin' Wolf 7 days a week (11pm Monday-Friday, 6pm-8pm Saturday and 9pm-1am Sunday). With table service from their American Whiskey Bar, expect everything from solo sets to full blues bands to their weekly and free Killing Floor jam every Sunday for your chance to play alongside their house band. Visit thehowlinwolf.co.uk for info.
The Merchant City live music bar and restaurant Avant Garde has a range of music on, including Saturday jazz and swing during the day followed by a free evening ceilidh. Visit Avant Garde's website to find out which rock, blues, jazz and ceilidh bands perform here.
The Merchant City bar has live music in the bar each Thursday to Sunday. A number of resident local musicians, such as Scott Forsyth and Jen Mahone perform during the day and early evening, free of charge. Visit maggiemays.co.uk.
Music in city hotel bars
Iasg Restaurant at Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel
Iasg feature resident and guest DJs each weekend. Friday evenings (6.30pm-10.30pm) are house and disco fusion; Saturday (3pm-11pm) is Balearic disco; and Sunday (1pm-5pm) is chilled out brunch vibes. Visit Iasg's website for details on which DJs are performing this month.
Red Sky Bar at Radisson Red
Going to a gig at the OVO Hydro? Start and end the evening at Radisson Red with live music in the Oui Bar (5.30-7.30pm and 10pm-midnight) to coincide with each OVO Hydro show. Enjoy riverside views and DJs in Red Sky Bar every Friday and Saturday (7pm-1am) with acts like Johnny Mac & The Faithful, Kevin McGuire and Robin Ashcroft. Find out more about this rooftop bar at redskybar.com.
Free live music on Glasgow's top nightlife street
Sauchiehall Street in the city centre is a great place to head for a night out, with a range of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and some brilliant, free-to-enter music bars.
Box on Sauchiehall Street has live music 7 nights a week. They run a range of nights including, Big Box Jam with their house band on Sundays (11am-2pm); open mic night hosted by band members of Fatherson and Prides on Tuesdays; plus they have regular nights with popular local bands, such as Skyline (Thursdays), and Franco (Mondays). Visit boxglasgow.co.uk for info.
The Blue Arrow Jazz Club
This late night basement jazz club is open Thursdays to Sundays. Audiences can pop in just for one pint and one tune, or stay for the whole performance. You need to buy tickets for the majority of gigs but check out The Blue Arrow website for listings to find out which nights are operating their pay-what-you-can afford ticketing.
Nice N Sleazys
Nice N Sleazys is home to Glasgow's longest running open mic acoustic night, which runs on Mondays downstairs (8pm-late); meanwhile upstairs is their weekly Bad Mama Jam. You can also enjoy their Damn Smooth Jazz evenings on the 3rd Sunday of every month (6-10pm). Visit nicensleazy.com for details.
Did you know that Glasgow's status as a UNESCO City of Music makes it one of 13 UNESCO sites in Scotland? In a world first Scotland's UNESCO sites have been brought together to form a trail - discover more about each of these 13 wonders and the UNESCO trail at visitscotland.com.
Article last update: July 2022