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On the eve of Mayfest, Glasgow's answer to the Edinburgh Festival, a timely survival guide to Scotland's "unofficial capital".

Threads: snappy. Glasgow, nicknamed "City of Couture", is the most style- conscious metropolis in Britain outside of London. The code is simple: Versace and Armani if you can afford it; Ichi- Ni-San, Cruise or Katharine Hamnett for everyone else. Professionals, Rangers footballers, and successful drug-dealers opt for Italian. Young trendies prefer British alternatives.

Meeting: The Living Room in Byres Road for those craving to be in with the in-crowd. Try also The Lounge in West Nile Street or Bar 10 in Mitchell Lane. The Horse Shoe Bar near Central Station is a good traditional pub, boasting the world's largest bar. The most upmarket watering hole is upstairs at Rogano in Exchange Place - a thrilling Art Deco affair with original 1930s interior "borrowed" from the Glasgow-built liner, Queen Mary.

Clubland: The Sub Club in Jamaica Street for "new music" lovers. The Tunnel in Mitchell Street for relentless trendies. Best gay club is Club X-Change in Royal Exchange Square.

Let's go shopping: Princes Square off Buchanan Street is Glasgow's most upmarket mall. Yes, Ichi-Ni-San, Versace, right, and Armani are across George Square in the Merchant City area and Cruise is in Renfield Street. Frasers is the best department store. Fop Records in Byres Road is considered best for music. Few markets, but try poking around the Barrows on Saturday and Sunday afternoons for offbeat bargains. Fact: the What Everyone Wants discount chain began life in Glasgow.

Eat me: even though it is Scotland's largest city, Glasgow has, alas, few fine restaurants. Recommended: Two Fat Ladies in Dumbarton Road for absolutely fabulous fish, The Buttery in Argyle Street for Scottish food, and upstairs at Babbity Bowster in Blackfriars Street for almost everything else. Change at Jamaica, off Jamaica Street, serves burgers and breakfast with large pots of tea all through the night.

Be there: Stormy Waters on the evening of 21 and 22 July promises to be a spectacular outdoor production in Glasgow. Surrounded by lasers, eight 100ft cranes in the Govan shipyard will form the backdrop to a choreographed history of the city.

Vernacular: avoid offers of a "Glasgow kiss" - it's a headbutt. A variation is the "Glasgow smile" in which your grin is subtly enlarged with a Stanley Knife. The city's notorious drug-dealers also have their own euphemisms. "Jellies" are not something you find at children's birthday parties, but the sleeping pill Temazepam. And looking for "BP" does not mean seeking out the local 24-hour filling station, but breaking into the chemists to steal pure British Pharmaceutical heroin.

Sons and Daughters: Billy Connolly (who lives in America) right, Lulu (she's left too). But James Kelman, the Booker-prize winning author, Rab C Nesbitt, and Mr "Glasgow's Miles Better" Happy are staying put.

Visit: the Burrell Collection, a wonderfully eclectic display of some of the 8,500 items collected by the industrialist Sir William Burrell, housed in an award-winning gallery in Pollok Park. Eco-warriors should take a short walk from the museum to the Pollok Free State anti-motorway camp. Try also Kelvingrove Art Gallery and the Museum for British and European art. Also take a look at Glasgow School of Art in Renfrew Street, Charles Rennie Mackintosh's architectural masterpiece. Glasgow boasts some of Britain's finest Victorian architecture - see the City Chambers in George Square and the People's Palace in Glasgow Green.

Avoid: The Gorbals, Easterhouse, Drumchapel, Sighthill - 1950s estates among the most depressing in Europe. Also steer clear of "old firm" - Rangers/Celtic - football matches (unless you enjoy displays of unbridled sectarianism).

Do say: "Glesga is the most exciting, dynamic city in Scotland. I would nee want to live anywhere else." Don't say: "I come from Edinburgh but actually I was born in London."