Renfrewshire Makar Shaun Moore has written this short poem to celebrate Gie’s A Scots Poem Day.



In Yer Ain Words

Yir words, they come fae within,
Internal, personal, honest and true,
Yir words come fae, yir nature and nurture,
They’re part and parcel ae you.

Yir words are yir gut instinct, yir raw emotions,
Yir deliberations and informed opinions,
Yir ain private thoughts been publicly aired,
Yir heart laid oot bare, and yir naked soul shared,

Given sound and form by yir flesh and muscle,
Instinctive ideas, organic and real,
A body’s expression ae pain or pleasure,
Yir words are just, how you feel.

And you can call pronunciation received,
But I will cry it imposed,
Aspirations and affectations, prescribed
By those, and such as those

Yir voice is no a thing tae be bred out ae ye,
Tae be controlled, conformed or denied,
Speech drummed intae or hammered out ae,
Yir core being culturally colonised,

Yir words are yours,
Yir words are you,
Yir words are where ye came fae,
And where yir gaun too.

Yir words are in yir genes, it’s yir heritage,
Familial and communal, yir social heirlooms,
Inner identity, innate, Uttered in utero
Souvenirs and songs fae the womb,

Homespun wisdom that’s been passed doon,
Cradle comforting hearth warming sounds,
Fae yir mammy, fae yir granny,
Fae yir Nonna, yir Par Nani,
Fae yir Babcia, fae Yir Shinnavey,
It’s yer Mither Tongue, wherever yir fae.


Friday 9 June is #GiesAScotsPoemDay and it’s a partnership with the Scottish Poetry Library.

Write/record/video your favourite Scots verse and post it on 9 June with the hashtag #GiesAScotsPoemDay.

Send your Scots poem using the form on the website.

Scots Language Awards 2023

Join Hands Up for Trad in Johnstone Town Hall for the Scots Language Awards and a celebration o aw that’s guid in Scots.

Shaun Moore and Simon Thoumire with local school pupils

Tickets are available to buy NOW from the One Ren box office.

You might also want to keep an eye on our plans for Mòd Phàislig 2023 when Paisley will host Scotland’s premier celebration of Gaelic language and culture.


Join us for a celebration of Scots

We have an award winning events programme in Renfrewshire, but none of it could happen without our volunteers. Whether you are interested in how events work, want to meet new people, or just want to do something different, there are plenty of reasons to volunteer with us.

We asked some of volunteers from this year’s Paisley Food and Drink Festival why they got involved.

Volunteering feels good

Helping other people is very rewarding, especially within a community you are part of to. It gives you connections to your people around you and opportunities to make your local place better.

Volunteering can give you a great feeling of accomplishment too, especially if it’s new to you. You’ll be building new skills, working in new ways, and overcoming challenges. With the training and support offered to our volunteers, we help them develop in new and exciting ways.

Working on our events is also great for your physical health. Our events will get you out and about, meeting folk and helping with a range of tasks. Additionally, we welcome volunteers of all abilities and experiences. And we will help you to find a role that suits you.

“…it’s great working with the community and I enjoy a new challenge every time”

Volunteering is good for your mental health

In 2020, a study from the Journal of Happiness found people who volunteer feel more satisfied with their lives and rated their overall health as better. Plus, they found that people who volunteered frequently reported better mental health overall.

Working on a shared task with other likeminded people is great for building confidence and social skills. Volunteering can help you cope the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety too. Taking time to work on something for others can help build a sense of pride and identity in what you’re doing. And this can have positive impacts on the way you think about other aspects of your life.

“I volunteer to develop my confidence and to gain volunteer experience”

It is great work experience

Often one of the biggest benefits to volunteering is the positive impact it can have on your work experience and development. With our events team, we have roles in creative media, communications, site building, stewarding, event management and community building. So if you’re interested in working in any of these areas, volunteering with us can be a great place to start.

However, even if you aren’t interested in working in events, volunteering can give you the opportunity to practice important skills used in the workplace. These include teamwork, communication, problem solving, task management, and organisational skills.

“I volunteer to get experience and because I enjoy volunteering at the events”

Get involved

We have several amazing events coming up this year and we are looking for volunteers.

If you are interested, find out more, or get in touch below.

Volunteering at major events

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...I say you should just get out there and try volunteering. It will help build confidence in yourself and abilities – and you may even make some new friends along the way. There is always something you can do to make the world a better place to live in, you just have to go do it.

Keith Orr - creative mentor

Our major events

Exciting times at PACE Youth Theatre with a new phase of work beginning at the Exchange Theatre. 

Exchange will be Scotland’s first theatre for children, young people and families.

Contractors Elmwood Projects have been appointed to deliver the next phase of development of the site, a vacant former-nightclub opposite Paisley Gilmour Street Station.

This phase will begin the major internal works programme required to create a 80-100 seat flexible studio theatre and a family-friendly performance café/bar.

Ongoing phases include a 300-seat main theatre plus other community and creative spaces.

Once complete, Exchange will host in-house and touring theatre productions. There will be a wide programme of creative learning opportunities and a new mid-scale venue for Renfrewshire’s thriving cultural community.

Grant Mason, Chief Executive of PACE Theatre

“This is a major step forward for the project; works completed so far have been largely focused on roof and rot repairs, so it will be exciting to see the internal features turning from a plan on piece of paper to a reality.

“We are extremely grateful to the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund for their investment in this project, which we believe will be transformative for young people, the local community, and for the regeneration of Paisley.

“The support of Renfrewshire Council throughout this process has been invaluable, with their vision for Exchange’s potential to create a vibrant cultural attraction and community hub for Paisley mirroring our own.”

Iain Nicolson, Renfrewshire Council Leader

“We are delighted to see the next phase of work get under way on PACE’s Exchange Theatre project, which will breathe new life into a prominent site in Paisley town centre.

“Renfrewshire has a thriving cultural scene, which PACE have been at the heart of for decades – Exchange will be a modern new facility that will encourage access and participation in the arts for current and future generations of young people, while also hosting performances and other activity that will drive new footfall into the town centre and local economy.

“The Exchange project perfectly complements our own investment in Renfrewshire’s historic cultural venues, with the transformation of Paisley Town Hall and the work to build a new library on the High Street both nearly finished, and with Paisley Museum set to reopen next year once its transformation into a word-class visitor destination is complete.”

It is expected that the current phase will be complete later this year, but PACE are appealing to businesses and individuals to support the project by donating to their Million Pound Wall campaign.

Anxiety is something that most of us will experience at different stages of life. But sometimes when things get overwhelming, anxiety can get out of control, and it can have impacts on your mental health. However, there are lots of simple ways to manage your anxiety.

Over the last few years, the pandemic, social isolation and the rising cost of living, have led to an increased social awareness of anxiety. Which is why the Mental Health Foundation have chosen anxiety as the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

Anxiety is usually associated with the thought of a threat or something going wrong in the future, but it can also arise from something happening right now. It’s a totally normal emotion and comes from a human response to stress or perceived danger. You might be feeling anxious about exams, relationships or work. Or you might be worried about money, heating bills or paying your rent. However, for some people, the feelings of anxiety can become overwhelming and it starts to impact on other aspects of their life.

If you suffer with anxiety, you should know you’re not alone. In March 2023, the Mental Health Foundation conducted an online survey of 6,000 UK adults aged 18+. Nearly three-quarters of the group (73%) had felt anxious at least sometimes in the previous two weeks. Furthermore, one in five people (20%) feel anxious most of or all of the time.

Ways to cope

The ways people cope with anxiety differ from person to person, but there are some well evidenced things that can help. Keeping a journal, getting support for money worries, connecting with other people, and talking about how you’re feeling. These can all help give you perspective on what’s going on around you.

We know that spending time in nature has a positive impact on our mental health. It can help us feel calmer and less stressed. Sitting in nature can help give you a sense of peace and can connect you to your environment. Nature can be anything from opening your windows and listening to the birds, to going for a walk in the great outdoors.

A study done by Exeter University has arrived at a definitive minimum amount of time spent in nature that yields tangible results. Just two hours of outdoor time a week is enough to see a marked increase in the benefits. And it doesn’t even have to be in one go…you could spend 20 minutes a day in your local park or save up and binge on a long walk at the weekend; the result is the same. –  Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to Happiness

Finding calm in Renfrewshire

We’re fortunate in Renfrewshire to have great options for places to get connected to nature. From local parks to riverside forests. We asked our followers on Instagram for suggestions of where they like to go for peace and calm. Here is the top three.

Barshaw Park Walled Peace Garden

Barshaw Park Walled Peace Garden

This tranquil garden is an oasis of calm not far from Paisley town centre. Managed by the Friends of Barshaw Park, the garden was originally the kitchen garden of Barshaw House. Built in 1798, the high walls and surrounding trees create a microclimate, allowing a wide variety of plants to thrive.

In 1986 the garden was dedicated as a Peace Garden, and there is a white peace pole at the centre of the garden, where memorial events are held throughout the year. The garden is a peaceful place for calm and reflection, and with wide flat paths, it’s a space everyone can enjoy.

Sunset in Locherwood

Locherwood Community Woodland

Just off the B756, Locherwood is a beautiful network of trails with vast views stretching across Renfrewshire. The woods are home to an abundance of wildlife, including roe deer and black and red grouse. There are two main circular walks – a 2km Locherwood trail and the longer 7km Ladymuir trail. The rural nature of Locherwood means it’s often very quiet.

Glen Park

Gleniffer Braes

Accessible from both Johnstone and Paisley, the Braes is home to tons of wildlife and incredible views stretching in all directions. Favourite places for a peaceful wander include Glen Park, with its winding trails and waterfalls. The Tannahill Walkway with views over Paisley to the Kilpatrick Hills and Ben Lomond in the distance. And Glenburn Reservoir with wide open grassland and highland coos. We have a few komoot routes around the Braes, including an easy walk around Glen Park.

Reach out

If you are having a hard time with anxiety, or any other form of poor mental health, you can reach out to Recovery Across Mental Health (RAMH). RAMH supports people across Renfrewshire with recovery from mental ill health. They can support in several ways including one-to-one counselling, social support and self-management.

Renfrewshire Council also have a list of organisations you can contact for mental health support, including crisis care and freephone helplines.

Find peace outside

Scotland’s home for manufacturing innovation has taken another major step forward with confirmation of its development partner.

Renfrewshire Council is leading development of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS).

The district, based around Glasgow Airport at Netherton, Inchinnan and Westway, promises to bring thousands of high skilled jobs by attracting UK and international advanced manufacturing companies to locate here.

The partnership

Renfrewshire Council is forming a Development Partnership LLP with Tarras Park Properties Ltd, part of Buccleuch Property, to secure investment into AMIDS.

This follows technical support from Avison Young to the Council to secure the development partner and will see Buccleuch fund a 3,400-square metre facility for start-ups and SMEs as part of up to £7.6million towards the initial development phases.

AMIDS centres on a 52-hectare Council-owned site, Netherton,being transformed into a modern, sustainable, employee-focused centre for manufacturing companies to locate to, where they can access advanced manufacturing technology and collaborate with specialists.

It’s home to the new University of Strathclyde-operated National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) flagship facility and the state-of-the-art CPI Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre.

Glasgow City Region City Deal funding delivered the underpinning infrastructure which is now complete and the Council has also added a central square and Scotland’s first, fifth-generation renewable energy heating network to supply low carbon heating.

What they said

Renfrewshire Council Leader, Iain Nicolson: “AMIDS is already delivering on its aims to attract jobs and growth into Renfrewshire and make Scotland’s manufacturing sector a leading player on the global stage.

“Manufacturing innovation is in Renfrewshire’s DNA. From textile production of the famous Paisley Pattern to spitfire engines and steam boilers, so much capability and technology came from Renfrewshire and was exported worldwide.

“Today companies here remain right at the forefront of cutting-edge manufacturing, AMIDS home to renowned international manufacturers Rolls Royce, Boeing and Doosan Babcock and major life science and biotech science firms Thermo Fisher Scientific, Terumo Aortic and Peak Scientific.

“Some 8000 people work in manufacturing roles in Renfrewshire, contributing more than £770million into the economy and this new partnership will enable us to take the district to the next level and achieve long-term growth, providing a major boost to the local, regional and Scottish economy, while supporting manufacturers to innovate and transition to net zero.”

Edinburgh-based development partners Buccleuch have a UK-wide investment portfolio and have helped deliver a range of business park, bespoke building and commercial regeneration developments including Shawfair Park in Midlothian and Aberdeen Energy and Innovation Parks.

Sandy Smith, Development Director, Buccleuch Property: “AMIDS is a fantastic opportunity for Buccleuch and we are delighted to be appointed as partner to the LLP. The attraction of a high-profile site that is home to two pioneering anchor institutions and sitting alongside Renfrewshire Council and its academic partners, is obvious, and allows us to capitalise on our extensive expertise in the knowledge sector.

“We believe AMIDS is a great place to expand Scotland’s advanced manufacturing sector. Netherton is master-planned to accommodate businesses of all sizes and Buccleuch’s first action, working collaboratively with Renfrewshire Council and other stakeholders, is to deliver start-up and scale-up research and manufacturing space to meet demand from Scotland’s entrepreneurs and we will start work on these proposals immediately.

“In parallel, we have the opportunity to deliver bespoke property solutions to businesses seeking to join Renfrewshire Council’s and Buccleuch’s vision for AMIDS.”

Find out more

To mark World Gaelic Week (Seachdain na Gàidhlig), Grant McFarlane, coordinator for local arts and culture group Fèis Phàislig, shares his love for Gaelic culture and his excitement for Paisley hosting The Royal National Mòd later this year. 

The second annual Seachdain na Gàidhlig runs from 20 – 26 February.

This year’s celebrations are under the theme of ‘Coming Together’ and prioritise bringing communities together and promoting the importance and use of Gaelic language. 

Grant McFarlane

Grant said: “I’m a Gaelic learner myself. It’s such an integral part of our history and heritage and it’s been a brilliant experience finding out more about Gaelic culture and language. 

“To celebrate Seachdain na Gàidhlig, Fèis Phàislig will be holding a family ceilidh at the Wynd Centre in Paisley on Saturday 25 February that showcases the songs and poems of Bàrd Phàislig which he wrote while he lived in the town – it also marks our first post-covid performance. 

“I think it’ll be a wonderful thing for people to come along to – even if it’s just learning a few words or hearing a bit of Gaelic music for the first time.” 

Paisley’s celebrations for Seachdain na Gàidhlig also mark the start of the countdown to the town hosting The Royal National Mòd – a decade since it last staged the prestigious event. 

Mòd Phàislig, organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach, is expected to bring thousands of visitors and competitors to the town for the nine-day festival which will take place at venues across Paisley from Friday 13 – Saturday 21 October.  

The Mòd festival, Scotland’s premier celebration of Gaelic culture and heritage, will feature a range of competitive disciplines, including Gaelic song, poetry, literature, drama, instrumental, Highland dancing and sport.  

The Mòd fringe will see a range of events and opportunities for people to experience and enjoy everything Gaelic arts and culture have to offer, including activities for children and families, alongside the main festival programme. 

Mòd Phàislig 2023

 “The Mòd is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the Gaelic culture that is thriving in the town since the event was last here in 2013. Organisations like the Fèis have come to life and there’s a real community in Renfrewshire for Gaelic culture and the Mòd is a great opportunity to develop and expand that community,” said Grant. 

Grannd MacPhàrlain a-mach air Seachdain na Gàidhlig

Gus Seachdain na Gàidhlig a chomharrachadh, tha Grannd MacPhàrlain, co-òrdanaiche na buidhne ealain is cultair ionadail Fèis Phàislig, ag innse mun mheas a th’ aige air cultar na Gàidhlig agus gu bheil e air bhioran gum bi Pàislig a’ cumail a’ Mhòid Nàiseanta Rìoghail nas fhaide am-bliadhna.  

Bidh an dàrna Seachdain na Gàidhlig bhliadhnail a’ ruith eadar 20 – 26 Gearran. Is e cuspair Seachdain na Gàidhlig am bliadhna ‘Tighinn Còmhla’ agus bithear a’ toirt prìomhachas do choimhearsnachdan a thoirt  còmhla agus cudromachd is cleachdadh na Gàidhlig a bhrosnachadh.  

Thuirt Grannd: “’S e neach-ionnsachaidh na Gàidhlig a th’ annam fhìn. Tha e na phàirt cho bunaiteach de ar n-eachdraidh agus ar dualchas agus tha e air a bhith sgoinneil faighinn a-mach barrachd mu chultar is cànan na Gàidhlig.  

“Airson Seachdain na Gàidhlig a chomharrachadh, bidh Fèis Phàislig a’ cumail cèilidh teaghlaich aig Ionad Wynd ann am Pàislig air Disathairne 25 Gearran leis na h-òrain agus na dàin aig Bàrd Phàislig a rinn e fhad ’s a bha e a’ fuireach sa bhaile – agus ’s e seo cuideachd a’ chiad chuirm againn às dèidh covid.  

“Tha mi a’ smaoineachadh gum bi e mìorbhaileach do dhaoine tighinn ann – fiù dìreach airson facal no dhà ionnsachadh no beagan ceòl Gàidhlig a chluinntinn airson a’ chiad uair.”  

Bidh Seachdain na Gàidhlig cuideachd na ro-bhlasad dhen ghàirdeachas a chì Pàislig nuair a chumas am baile am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail – deich bliadhna bhon a chùm iad an tachartas cliùiteach mu dheireadh.  

Tha dùil gun toir Mòd Phàislig, air a ruith leis a’ Chomunn Ghàidhealach, na mìltean de luchd-tadhail is farpaisich don bhaile airson na fèis naoi-latha a bhios a’ tachairt air feadh Phàislig eadar Dihaoine 13 – Disathairne 21 Dàmhair.   

Bidh Am Mòd, prìomh fhèis na h-Alba airson cultar is dualchas na Gàidhlig, a’ nochdadh raon de dh’fharpaisean, a’ gabhail a-steach òrain Ghàidhlig, bàrdachd, litreachas, dràma, ceòl, dannsa Gàidhealach agus spòrs.   

Agus air iomall a’ Mhòid bidh raon de thachartasan agus chothroman do dhaoine eòlas fhaighinn air agus tlachd fhaighinn à ealain is cultar na Gàidhlig, a’ gabhail a-steach tachartasan do chlann is teaghlaichean, a’ ruith aig an aon àm ri prìomh phrògram a’ Mhòid.  

“’S e cothrom air leth a th’ anns a’ Mhòd gus cultar na Gàidhlig a thaisbeanadh a tha air a bhith a’ soirbheachadh sa bhaile bhon a bha an tachartas an seo ann an 2013. Tha buidhnean leithid na Fèis air nochdadh, tha fìor choimhearsnachd aig cultar na Gàidhlig ann an Siorrachd Rinn Friù agus tha am Mòd na dheagh chothrom a’ choimhearsnachd sin a leasachadh agus a leudachadh,” thuirt Grannd. 

Find out more

A new partnership will see Glasgow Airport become the UK’s first Connected Airport Living Lab.

The lab will test new technologies designed to enhance an inclusive innovation approach to passenger experience, boost productivity and hit sustainability targets.

Connected Places Catapult, the UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport, and place leadership, announced a new multi-year partnership with Glasgow Airport to create the UK’s first Connected Airport Living Lab.

The partnership will produce a series of demonstrations and trials of innovative technologies at the airport as the transport hub continues to regrow passenger numbers in tandem with delivering on the commitments outlined in its Sustainability Strategy.

This partnership will put Glasgow Airport at the heart of testing a diverse range of innovations aimed at addressing challenges facing the aviation sector.

The ‘Connected Airport Living Lab’ will play host
to technologies, systems and processes designed to enhance passenger experience and freight

It aims to boost productivity and will accelerate decarbonisation of ground and air operations, including the electrification of flight, the use of hydrogen, automation data analytics and multi-modal connected surface-level access.

The partnership will also support existing collaborations in the region, including the airport and
Catapult’s ongoing involvement with CAELUS (Care & Equity – Healthcare Logistics UAS Scotland),
which is working with NHS Scotland to build the first national drone network that can transport essential medicines, bloods and other medical supplies throughout Scotland including to remote communities.

Central to the Connected Airport Living Lab will be a holistic vision of the airport as a highly-innovative net zero place, that plays an important part in developing the city-region’s skills-base and full economic potential.

The Catapult will use its global reach to highlight international examples of airports successfully integrating amenities such as university campuses, entertainment venues and even vertical farms into their offering.

The five-year partnership will pioneer the approach and plans are in place to roll out the model to other airports as it succeeds.

Andy Cliffe, Chief Executive Officer of AGS Airports, which owns Glasgow Airport, said: “New technologies have the power to transform the experience of everyone who interacts with the airport. As passenger numbers continue to recover after the pandemic, we want to develop a more inclusive passenger experience and as Scotland’s largest cargo airport by freight value, there is an opportunity to grow the volume of imports and exports moving through Glasgow.

“With those opportunities, making Glasgow Airport the UK’s first Connected Airport Living Lab will put us at the forefront of new developments that can make journeys and freight movements smoother. This
partnership also aligns with our own sustainability commitments to balance the undoubted economic and social benefits the airport delivers with our climate change responsibilities.”

World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on February 2, but visitors to RSPB Lochwinnoch can enjoy the wetlands every day of the year.

We spoke to Robert Conn, Visitor Experience Manager at RSPB Lochwinnoch, who told us more about the nature reserve in Renfrewshire.

Robert said: “As one of the largest remaining wetlands in Southwest Scotland, RSPB Scotland Lochwinnoch provides essential habitats for a vast range of wildlife.

“Last year we recorded 126 different species of birds, this included some pretty rare species such as a black-winged stilt, smew and breeding little ringed plovers.”

Located in the village of Lochwinnoch, the wetland reserve is perfect for enjoying the outdoors or a day out with the family.

It’s home to a range of trails offering spectacular views, birdwatching hides and a fantastic visitor centre.

Plus, kids and families can enjoy hours of fun with the outdoor play area, events and daily drop-in activities across the year.

Robert added: “With our unique location, less than 15 minutes from Paisley and easily accessible by public transport, visitors can enjoy strolling along our accessible trails, using the viewing facilities to spot wildlife, or enjoy a hot drink and sandwich back at the visitor centre.”

Keen wildlife spotters can watch whooper swans, wigeon and a wide variety of ducks during winter months.

The elaborate displays of the great crested grebes in spring are not to be missed.

RSPB Lochwinnoch warden Dan Snowdon said: “Supporting many wintering and breeding birds, the reserve also plays host to spring and autumn migrants on their way to other sites as well as other wetland flora and fauna such as otter and locally rare wetland plants and invertebrates.”

The visitor centre, shop, toilets and birdwatching hides are open daily from 9:30am to 5pm.

Robert added: “RSPB Lochwinnoch welcomes around 25,000 visitors each year.

“We are keen to increase this number through developing the site further as the more people we can attract, the more people we hope will want to help protect important sites like this for the future.”

Find out more about this amazing nature reserve

Lochwinnoch Arts Festival is getting ready to host another series of fantastic events in 2023.

We spoke with with committee member Morag Thow about the festival and its varied and inclusive programme for all ages.

“There’s huge artistic talent within our community and the festival showcases this and ties the local villages together in a cultural way,” says Morag.

“The festival has been running for 21 years now. It originally started as a small, one-day book festival but has grown arms and legs to become a multiple week programme.

“We’re spreading things out across the year and we’ll also have a mini festival across 17-19 March.

“We try and bring quality art, music and performance into the village that are reasonably priced, so people can engage with the arts.”

Here are some of the upcoming events at Lochwinnoch Arts Festival:

Lochwinnoch Films 4U – Angels Share whisky tasting and film night
Friday 20 January

Christine Bovill – Tonight, You Belong to Me
Saturday 18 February

Alan Bissett – Moira in Lockdown
Friday 17 March

Craft Fair
Saturday 18 March

Sinead Aitken Ensemble
Saturday 18 March

Jamie Macdonald Comedy
Sunday 19 March

Ali Affleck
Friday 31 March

Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton Trio
Friday 9 June

Morag added: “We’ve had a great gig in the village every month since last May with Scotland on Tour, including top jazz, folk and contemporary acts.

“We try to involve local people, acts and musicians where we can and get as much of the community as involved as possible.

“The festival is committee-run and we love putting these events together – we get to hear great live music and performances and it gives people a platform to perform.”

Find out more about the festival and get tickets for upcoming events at the links below.

Jamie Russell, 17, was one of our youth volunteers at the Paisley Halloween Festival 2022 – and here is his report from the festival from a teenager’s point of view.

Plus, scroll down to see some fantastic videos from the event, shot and edited by Jamie’s friend Felicite McIlkenny.

Reports are coming out from Paisley Town Centre of aliens, dragons and comically-large spiders roaming the high street!

Welcome to Paisley Halloween Festival 2022 – a hauntingly heart-warming night for the whole family.

In October, I had the pleasure of travelling around the town during the Paisley Halloween Festival, speaking to local families and businesses about their experience.

Fire dragon at Paisley Halloween Festival 2022

With events spread across the whole of Paisley, local performer Holly Robinson kicked the night off with a beautiful rendition of Adele’s Easy On Me from the main stage.

Puppeteers manned the arms of a frightening spider that travelled the grounds of Paisley, until it nested in its own spider’s lair beside the Town Hall.

Even Renfrewshire Council’s offices weren’t out of the action. Dr. Kronovators Fire Laboratory pyrotechnics display brought a frightening fury to the night on the grass beside Renfrewshire House. There wasn’t a spot where you weren’t surrounded by excitement.

Fire performance with visitors gathered beside Renfrewshire House, Paisley, for Paisley Halloween Festival. Photo by Stuart White

Photo by Stuart White

Families in fantastic costumes could be seen everywhere. My personal favourite was a young father and son dressed as Ash Ketchum and Pikachu. When I spoke to them about what the festival does for Paisley, they said: “It allows a lot of people to come together, meeting up outside, to have some family time with the ones they care about”. When asked if they would return, Ash replied: “Yeah, absolutely.”

All of Paisley was involved in the Halloween Festival. Young people (us included) were all over the rides – the classic Twister, Ghost Train, and a supersonic version of the Waltzer.

Even through its performances, the Halloween Festival supported Scots. Performers came from local drama groups from as far as Edinburgh. I spoke with the father of a young performer, who said his daughter, Robin Gilhoolie, had been preparing for three weeks for the event.

When asked what the festival did for Paisley, he said: “It brings all the community together.”

That’s what’s brilliant about things like Paisley Halloween Festival – it helps everybody get behind Paisley and work together on something great.

Families and businesses from all over Scotland came to be in our town and get engrossed in the fun. The sense of community could be felt everywhere.

I spoke with a young boy named Oliver, 10, who travelled with his mum and two siblings from Port Glasgow. He was so excited to speak to me – I reminded him I wasn’t the BBC. We had just watched Pyroceltica, one of the main performances, and he loved it. He said: “It was absolutely amazing, I don’t know how they actually do it…I’m really impressed.”

I asked him about his festival experience as a visitor to Paisley, and he said: “It’s been really good, I’ve had a lot of fun here… I’ve really enjoyed it.”

I then asked for one word to describe Paisley, and he said “amazing”. His mum agreed and said: “We come every year… it’s free, you can spend as much or little as you want… it’s great.”

Oliver and his family aren’t the only ones who travel to Paisley. Thousands of Scots flock here for the festival every year; creating brilliant opportunities for local business, encouraging them to keep their doors open later, and allowing vendors to travel into the town.

I spoke with two local business owners, Charlotte and Amid from Nomads Coffee, located across from Paisley Museum. It’s a fantastic rustic café who kindly let us in to speak during their chess night. They thought the festival was great for business, as it “brings all kinds of people to Paisley and into the shop…it makes the whole of the town centre feel exciting, and fun…it’s just a great atmosphere.”

They continued: “We opened just after lockdown, so it was quite quiet at the beginning… but more and more the streets are getting busier. More and more customers know us… business is getting stronger and stronger all the time. I feel like Paisley is becoming a more vibrant place.”

They thought Paisley’s cultural offer had helped: They added: “People know Paisley for different reasons. They’re talking about the architecture it has, they’re going to the Abbey, they’re going to the museum. It’s bringing a lot of people in.” Their words to describe Paisley were “eclectic” and “hidden-gem”.

Not far from the High Street, Dunn Square was transformed into a food market. Before the festival launched, I spoke with the owner of the “Churros, Baby?” food-truck, who had travelled from Hamilton to be at the festival.

I asked about the positive impacts of festivals like Paisley Halloween. They said: “Any community event, especially if its free is great… as people have that little extra bit of money to spend, it brings the people out. The organisers have been really helpful… its been really nice”.

“We’ve been speaking to a few people today who saw photos from last night and didn’t know it was on but are going to come and bring their kids over because it looks so good.” Her one word to describe Paisley was, “colourful”.

Fire performer at Paisley Halloween Festival 2022

It was brilliant speaking to all these people about their experience with the festival, but what about what goes on behind the scenes? I spoke with one of the performers from Pyroceltica, an incredible fusion of traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing with fire, dubbed Celtic Fire Theatre.

For the past twelve years, they’ve toured Scotland and abroad. They had only performed the Halloween Festival show seven or eight times, but rehearsed it for over a year. The performance was flawless, and they were a clear crowd-favourite.

He said: “It’s always one of the biggest factors. You’ve got to entertain the people, there’s a bunch of tricks that you know will always get the big reactions.”

That was certainly true, as the crowd was extremely interactive with the performance responding with cheers and claps. When asked what he thought the festival did for Paisley, he was extremely enthusiastic on its positive effect. He said: “It’s amazing… it looks brilliant, everybody’s done such a good job on the setup and making it all look great. The last one we were at in 2019, was amazing. The quality of the production was just full marks.”

Paisley Town Hall decorated for Paisley Halloween Festival 2022

Paisley Halloween Festival not only was a highlight for families, but every person we saw, was having a great time. Felicite McIlkenny and I, who volunteered at the festival together were extremely thankful for the opportunity Renfrewshire Council and their team gave us, but also happy to have had such a fun time.

Events like the Halloween Festival are so crucial for Paisley as echoed by every person we spoke to. It brings the community together in all sorts of different ways whether through the public visiting with their families and friends, performers, vendors, businesses, volunteers – everyone comes together to create something very special.

We saw first-hand behind the scenes of what occurs, and the events-planning and organisational minds behind the festival are fantastic at what they do. Paisley is a brilliant place to be.