Everybody loves a free day out, don’t they?

With the school summer holidays fast approaching, there’s plenty of fantastic events, activities and family days out to enjoy in Renfrewshire over the coming weeks – and best of all, they’re all free!

Enjoy everything from popular annual events and family fun trails to great outdoor adventures and fascinating indoor attractions.

Join us to take a look at the range of amazing free things to do in Paisley and Renfrewshire that are guaranteed to keep the kids entertained this summer.

And remember to check out the rest of the Paisley.is website to see more fantastic things to do in the area all year round.

Enjoy amazing events taking place this summer

Take a town centre trail - it's out of this world!

Then take a tour of our secret collection

Enjoy great outdoor activities

Get on your bike

See spectacular sights around Paisley

Visit more of our amazing attractions

The summer holidays are upon us – and there’s so many ways to enjoy fantastic days out in Renfrewshire.

We’ve got fun-filled events for all the family, great outdoor adventures, cycle routes in beautiful scenery, water sports, a whole host of free activities and so much more!

There’s plenty to suit everyone, come rain or shine. So, make the Paisley.is website your go-to this summer and plan some top days out with our handy guide.

It’s heating up in Renfrewshire with fab events taking place this summer

Go out of this world with this trail...

Explore the great outdoors

Thousands of our secrets are out... and you can come and see them

For the thrill seekers

Fancy a swim?

Get on yer bike!

There's plenty to gems to discover around the area!

Fancy a round?

Cap off the summer with Doors Open Days

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

It’s the festive season and there’s every reason to be jolly with so many great things to do in Paisley and Renfrewshire this month.

There’s fun-filled activities for all the family, from Paisley First’s WinterFest and pantomimes to exploring the area’s beautiful scenery with winter walks and much more.

The Paisley.is website is your go-to-guide for what’s on this Christmas – and we’ve gathered some helpful info for you here, but it’s also worth exploring the rest of our website.

Enjoy all the fun of the fair at WinterFest

A Christmas panto is a great night out... Oh yes it is!

Enjoy a festive day out at these top entertainment destinations

Is the sun out? Explore the great outdoors with a winter walk

Or... get on yer bike!

Discover Paisley - Scotland's largest town is a real gem!

Everyone loves a freebie, don’t they? Well, that’s why Paisley and Renfrewshire is the best place to be during the October school holidays – there’s so many free activities available for everyone to enjoy!

From fun-filled activities for all the family, music and arts festivals, adventures in beautiful scenery, cycling, free events and so much more!

The Paisley.is website is your go-to-guide for what’s on during the October break – and we’ve gathered some helpful info for you here, but it’s also worth exploring the rest of our website.

Free fun for the kids at the Wee Spree

Music and more with a Spree For All across Renfrewshire

Is the sun out? Explore the great outdoors

Calling all Mods - this free Spree show is for you!

Get on yer bike!

Discover Paisley - Scotland's largest town is a real gem!

People say the best things in life are free – it’s hard to argue otherwise when you see all the  free activities available in Renfrewshire this summer.

We’ve got fun-filled activities for all the family, adventures in beautiful scenery, cycling, water sports, free events and a whole bunch more!

Make the Paisley.is website your go-to-guide this summer…we’ve gathered up some useful info for you here, but it’s also worth exploring the rest of our website.

Explore the great outdoors!

Not sure where to begin? Let us guide you...

Have a 'roarsome' time on the trail for dinosaurs!

Get on yer bike!

Discover Paisley - Scotland's largest town is a real gem!

Recognised across the country for its architectural legacy…here’s a small selection of notable historic Paisley buildings.

Ok, we know buildings generally are hard to miss – but most places don’t have buildings like ours.

Paisley town centre has the second-highest concentration of listed buildings of anywhere in Scotland – only Edinburgh tops us (to be fair, they do have a nice castle).

Many of them were built as a result of the wealth which flowed through the town in the 19th century as Paisley became the centre of global thread production. Others date back even longer.

If we tried to list them all here we’d probably break the internet – but here’s a few interesting ones we’ve picked out.

Paisley Abbey

The town’s most recognisable landmark has a fascinating history and is a stunning centrepiece, inside and out.

Paisley Town Hall

Paisley Town Hall

The grand Victorian town hall has been at the heart of life in the town since 1882.

Thomas Coats Memorial Church

Dubbed ‘the Baptist cathedral of Europe’, its 200-feet spire is a key feature of the town’s skyline.

Coats Observatory

One of only three public observatories in Scotland, there could be few better places to stargaze than here.

Outside of the Russell Institute

Russell Institute

A former health centre recently re-opened as an employability hub, but you can still marvel at the details and sculptures.

Paisley Gilmour Street station

Did you know it dates back to 1840 and is now the fourth-busiest station in Scotland? Now you do.

John Neilson Institute Frosty Morning

The John Neilson

Known to locals as ‘the porridge bowl’ the John Neilson Institution started life as a school for boys whose parents were either poor or had passed away. The impressive building has now been converted into apartments.

Kids playing in the water at the Grand Fountain, Fountain Gardens

The Grand Fountain

Not technically a building, but it’s so unusual we thought we’d throw in a mention. The A-listed cast-iron fountain dates back to 1886 and was refurbished and restored to its former vivid glory in 2014. Did we mention it has walrus sculptures?

Find out more about Paisley buildings

From adventurous days out to stunning heritage sites, here’s just a few of the amazing attractions you should visit across Paisley and Renfrewshire.

Are you looking for something new and exciting to do? Well, you won’t be stuck for choice in Paisley and Renfrewshire.

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or just fancy exploring some of Scotland’s most remarkable heritage sites and gorgeous architecture, there’s so many fantastic places for you to enjoy in the area.

Here’s a list of some of the amazing attractions that you must visit across Paisley and Renfrewshire.

Paisley Abbey

View of Paisley Abbey roof and stain glass windows taken from the floor looking up

Take in some of Paisley’s history at the 850 year-old medieval Abbey. The spectacular site is believed to be the location where William Wallace was educated and is also the final resting place of six high Stewards of Scotland including Marjory Bruce – the daughter of Robert the Bruce. You can take one of the fantastic guided tours of the Abbey at 2pm on Tuesdays & Thursdays.

Paisley Town Hall

Paisley Town Hall towers in the sunshine

This eye-catching 19th century building, located right next to Paisley Abbey, instantly grabs your attention as you enter the town centre. Paisley Town Hall features prominently in Renfrewshire’s events calendar, regularly hosting concerts and social events throughout the year. The venue’s stunning Victorian architecture also makes it a popular setting for weddings and ceremonies.

Sma’ Shot Cottages

Take a step back in time and experience life as a weaver at Paisley’s famous Sma’ Shot Cottages. Local guides are on hand to give you an insightful tour of the 1750s weaver’s cottage before letting you explore a number of historically decorated cottages dating back to the 1820s. No visit is complete without stopping by the tea room and enjoying a slice of cake before returning to the present day!

Paisley Museum and Art Galleries

Find out more about the Paisley pattern, the town’s rich textile heritage and a wealth of natural history and archaeology collections during a visit to Paisley Museum and Art Galleries. The museum is home to the world-famous collection of Paisley shawls and features a year-round programme of changing exhibitions. Make sure you say hello to the famous resident ‘Buddy’ the lion. Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite…

Coats Observatory

Telescope at Coats Observatory,Paisley

Built in 1883 and located behind Paisley Museum, the Coats Observatory is the oldest of its kind in Scotland. Perfect for stargazing, the public observatory is home to a vast range of telescopes and a state of the art digital planetarium. Learn more about the universe around us and the historic building itself with a free tour.

The Experience

On your marks, get set and go to The Experience at Hillington Park! Get your adrenaline pumping with a race around Scotland’s first indoor electric go-karting circuit before challenging your pals in the laser tag arena. Kids big and small can enjoy plenty of regular activities and the award-winning Refuel Café offers the perfect pit-stop for some tasty treats.

intu Braehead

With over 100 stores across its shopping centre and retail park, intu Braehead is ideal for a spot of retail therapy. The centre also contains a 5,000-seat arena which hosts regular music and sporting events throughout the year as well as a fantastic indoor ice rink. The ice arena is home to the local Braehead Clan and Paisley Pirates ice hockey teams, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch a game.

Soar

Located next to intu Braehead, Soar is perfect for an action-packed family day out. Thrill-seekers can enjoy skiing and snowboarding on the UK’s largest indoor real snow slope at Snow Factor or take to new heights on the highest indoor freestanding climbing wall in Europe. The leisure centre also offers miniature golf and ten-pin bowling facilities, a cinema, fantastic restaurants and much more!

Paisley Thread Mill Museum

One of Paisley’s ‘must see’ attractions, Paisley Thread Mill Museum gives visitors the opportunity to learn more about the town’s industrial and social past. Opened in 2003, the museum displays samples of products, photographs, mill machinery related to the thread industry and artefacts donated by people connected with the local mills.

Castle Semple Country Park

Explore the wildlife and great outdoors on one of the fantastic walking routes at Castle Semple Country Park. Visitors can also enjoy biking on the 15km Semple Trail or a number of watersports, including rowing, sailing, kayaking and windsurfing at Castle Semple Loch. No visit is complete without taking in the stunning views from the Visitor Centre Café with a cuppa or ice-cream.

Get your boots on and discover Paisley on foot

In a town that sees creeping influences of Mackintosh and Thomson amongst others, it very much extends the structural beauty of Glasgow to its neighbour in the west.

Neil Robertson
Blogger
Travels With A Kilt

Many urban areas would love to have a measure of the pedigree that this post-industrial conurbation boasts. Aside from its textile legacy, and illustrious denizens, Paisley has an incredible architectural heritage, from the 12th-Century Abbey, with its glorious Edward Burne-Jones windows, to its Victorian Observatory, to the stunning Art Deco Russell Institute.

Gemma Fullham
Reporter, Irish Independent

I regularly visit the Paisley Museum and Art Galleries and Paisley Arts Centre and try to attend as many of the festivals and events in the town as possible... I particularly enjoy Sma’ Shot Day.

Laura Gray
Artist

Other things to explore in Paisley and Renfrewshire

Find out some things you maybe didn’t know about Paisley with some quirky facts about the town.

Paisley is home to a rich heritage and a vast range of striking architecture which makes for a fascinating story around every corner of the town.

You might be familiar with the town’s famous names, such as Paolo Nutini, Gerrard Butler, David Tennant, John Byrne or Pam Hogg – but did you know that the town is the birthplace of a number of ground-breaking inventions? Or that you can even see an Alien at Paisley Abbey?

Take a look at some quirky facts about the town which you may or may not have already known.

Architecture galore

Anchor Mills

Did you know that Paisley town centre has 110 listed buildings? That’s a higher concentration than anywhere in Scotland outside of Edinburgh. It’s definitely worth paying a visit to the historic Paisley Abbey, Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, the Anchor Mill and many more!

An alien gargoyle

Speaking of Paisley Abbey, have you seen the alien gargoyle among the intricate statues outside the striking building? The design is believed to have been carved by a rogue sci-fi loving stonemason in the early 1990s in ode to the 1979 cult film.

The threads that bind us

Close up of an old spool of thread

Did you know that at one point a Paisley-based company was responsible for making 90 per cent of the world’s sewing thread? Paisley’s thread exports and patterned shawls saw the town establish itself as a global manufacturing and textile powerhouse through local business J&P Coats Ltd.

All aboard!

To many people’s surprise, Paisley Gilmour Street is the fourth-busiest station in Scotland with more than five million passengers per year. This is more than Haymarket in Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Dundee.

Snail in bottle

Slug in the Bottle mural

Paisley was the location for the landmark ‘snail in a bottle’ legal case. A lady visited a local cafe, was served a bottle of ginger beer with a dead snail in it, fell ill and successfully sued the manufacturer, thus creating the modern concept of negligence.

Bringing whisky to the world

Did you know around 30 per cent of the world’s Scotch is bottled in Renfrewshire? World-famous drinks manufacturer Diageo’s packaging plant at Shieldhall bottles more than 25 million cases of Scotch whisky annually.

A Grand Fountain

Paisley’s Grand Fountain is considered by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to be the best example of a Scottish made cast iron fountain in the country. Standing as the centrepiece of Fountain Gardens, the 10m fountain’s unique design includes herons, walruses, cherubs and dolphins.

Fancy a game?

Did you know the world’s first commercial five-a-side football pitch centre opened in Paisley? Keith Rogers opened the pitches at the town’s Anchor recreational centre in 1987 under the name Pitz.

First European trophy

It’d be rude to talk about football in Paisley without mentioning St Mirren – so, did you know that the Buddies were the first Scottish team to win a European trophy? In 1922, St Mirren were invited to play in a tournament to mark the opening of Barcelona’s new stadium, Les Corts. The Buddies won it and brought home the Barcelona Cup.

Substitute me for him

While he may be remembered mostly for THAT goal against Holland at the 1978 World Cup, Archie Gemmill was also famous for being the first official substitute in Scottish domestic football. Gemmill replaced St Mirren’s Jim Clunie in a League Cup tie against Clyde at Shawfield on August 13, 1966 – the first time new substituting rules for competitive games was in operation.

Scotland’s oldest observatory

Coats Observatory in summer sun

Built in 1883, Paisley’s Coats Observatory is the oldest public observatory in Scotland. Perfect for stargazing, the observatory is home to a vast range of telescopes and a state of the art digital planetarium.

Singing for success

Did you know that the University of the West of Scotland offers Scotland’s only Masters course in songwriting and performance? Last year, the university announced a Paolo Nutini Songwriting Scholarship which will be funded by the Paisley-born singer.

CHIP and PIN

You might use it almost every day, but did you know the CHIP and PIN system was invented by a Paisley Buddie? James Goodfellow OBE created the first Personal Identification Number (PIN) and Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) technology in 1966.

Paisley punks

For a time The Bungalow Bar on Renfrew Road was the main punk venue in the Glasgow area as punk bands were once banned in Glasgow. Top acts to play the venue included: The Rezillos, The Skids, The Clash, The Jam, Orange Juice, Echo and the Bunnymen and Souxsie and the Banshees.

Filming the Stone of Destiny

Did you know Paisley Abbey took on the role of Westminster Abbey for 2008 film Stone of Destiny? The film, which starred Robert Carlyle, Charlie Cox, Billy Boyd and Kate Mara and told the story of the theft of the Stone of Scone, saw Paisley Abbey stand in as a location for London’s Westminster Abbey during filming.

Things to see and do in Paisley and beyond

Get your boots on and take a stroll round Paisley town centre

Wandering down cobbled wynds, up hidden stairs, going inside the wonderful green-roofed abbey and finding the tomb of Marjorie Bruce – what a revelation!

Karen Campbell
Author

I love Paisley because you must have the only Abbey worldwide with an ’Alien’ gargoyle! #WhyILovePaisley

@JPBreslin
What's Our Story?

I remember it well…my Dad was head chef at The Silver Thread and catered for the punk scene – he used to sneak people in the back door for free.

Caroline Gormley
Artist

Paisley and Renfrewshire boast a pretty enviable list of famous faces, from David Tennant and Gerard Butler to Paolo Nutini and Richard Madden. There’s something to be said for the area’s creative talent and there’s plenty of places to nurture and grow the superstars of tomorrow.

PACE

PACE has helped support the early careers of some of Paisley’s most recognised talent including Paolo Nutini, Scott Reid (Still Game’s Methadone Mick) and Richard Madden (Game of Thrones, Cinderella).

One of the largest independent youth theatre company’s in the UK Pace offers weekly workshops in drama based in Paisley, for anyone aged 3-18 years. The workshops aim to increase communication skills, confidence and self-expression as well as performance skills.

To find out more visit: www.pacetheatre.com or call 0345 130 5218.

Loud ‘n’ Proud

Loud ‘n’ Proud is the rock and pop music school based in Paisley High Street. It is perfectly placed to prepare eager students for a career in music through the study and practice of contemporary music.

The school offers lessons in everything from drums, guitar and bass to vocals, keyboard and playing in a band.

Find out more about the classes by visiting www.loudnproud.org.

Right2Dance

In the west end of Paisley is Right2Dance. Established in 1973 the company has catered for a range of dancing abilities from the absolute beginner to the aspiring professional, with a belief that everyone has the ‘right2dance’.

The company has welcomed world-class companies like Matthew Bourne’s New Directions to expose its students to other forms of teaching and expertise. The school offers classes in a wide range of disciplines.

To find out more visit: www.right2dance.com.

Erskine Music and Media Studio

The Erskine Music and Media Studio is a community interest company run by young people for young people. The dedicated space offers great amenities and support for creative young people such as rehearsal space and practice instruments, recording studio and music lessons to filming photography, pre and post production.

To find out more please visit www.emmstudio.co.uk.

Elma Whyte’s School of Dance

This family-run dance school has been a stellar training ground for talented dancers throughout Renfrewshire for decades. Offering technique-building training in everything from classical ballet, tap and jazz to hip-hop there’s a class to suit all young dance enthusiasts.

Previous students of the school have gone on to the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Urdang Academy London, Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

To find out more call 0141 848 1005 or visit their Facebook page.

Razzamataz Theatre School

Razzamataz provides affordable part-time performing arts training for children and young people giving them access to some of the most talented performers through specialist workshops and classes. Razzamataz uses theatre arts within small class sizes to nurture a child’s confidence and self-esteem, all while making sure they are having a lot of fun.

Young people can participate in a range of classes from classic west end musical theatre to contemporary street dance and pop singing. There’s always plenty of opportunities to show of your kids talents at a range of performances.

To find out more visit www.paisley.razzamataz.co.uk or call 07554 451 308.

Diane Mitchell School of Music

The Diane Mitchell Music School provides an excellent way for children to enjoy learning about music.

There’s a whole host of music classes offered to children from 3-11 years while the musical tots classes is available for children from 1 – 4 years. For children who love to sing and perform, the school has a children’s singing club and there’s also a Community Gospel Choir for adults. The school provides lots of fun opportunities to meet, sing and perform with others.

To find out more please visit: www.dianemitchellmusicschool.com.

Things to do with the family in Paisley and Renfrewshire

We secured funding through the Culture, Heritage and Events Fund which allowed us to run a class that was accessible to everyone. By removing the barriers, it’s given young people the chance to take part in dance and see if it’s something they would like to learn more about.

Aileen Palombo
right2dance

We began in a small garage and now have a bespoke studio and shop on Paisley High Street, and a rehearsal and recording studio in Renfrew.

Tommy McGrory
Loud 'n' Proud