IT WAS a year like no other.

Sinatra sang, Degas dazzled and the Big Day rocked.

Next month marks the 30th anniversary of the official start of Glasgow’s reign as European City of Culture.

On March 2, 1990, on the stage of the King’s Theatre, Mayor of Paris Jacques Chirac shook hands with Lord Provost of Glasgow Susan Baird, as the Queen and a 1500-strong audience of local, national and international dignitaries looked on.

The fun had started earlier in the year when, on Hogmanay in George Square, thousands of revellers got together to make sure the celebration started with a bang.

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The Evening Times reported the next day: “The scene is set for Glasgow’s 17 major museums, 25 art galleries, nine theatres, 40 community venues and 119 sports and recreation facilities to be filled with fun and excitement over the next 12 months.”

Director Bob Palmer said the festivities would include 1000 public and 1000 local events, featuring performers and artists from 23 countries, with 30 major works commissioned in the performing and visual arts and 40 world premieres in theatre, dance and music plus 125 exhibitions, 1200 performers and 250 sporting events.

Glasgow Times:

Magnificent moments came thick and fast as the city embraced its new title.

Frank Sinatra wowed his fans at Ibrox in the July; Luciano Pavarotti raised the roof at the SECC in May; and the Bolshoi Ballet and Berlin Philharmonic thrilled audiences with stunning performances.

The new Royal Concert Hall opened at the top of Buchanan Street in September, with a gala opening early the following month in the presence of the Princess Royal. Within its first three months it had attracted more than 250,000 visitors.

Glasgow Times:

Bill Bryden’s The Ship, at the old Harland and Wolff engine shed in Govan, starred Jimmy Logan and a huge cast of the cream of Scotland’s acting talent. It was a spectacular success. Degas and Van Gogh exhibitions delighted art lovers and the QE2 returned to Glasgow for the first time since its launch.

There were hundreds of community events, including a Kite Festival in Jordanhill, a knit-in in Springburn and the Underground Project, where members of the Glasgow Independent Dance Troupe performed at Ibrox subway station.

The biggest free rock concert ever staged in Scotland was Glasgow’s Big Day, held in June 1990. It featured a diverse mix of acts, from Deacon Blue and Hue and Cry to Wet Wet Wet, Love and Money, Big Country and Sheena Easton. It attracted around 300,000 music fans and it was shown live by Channel 4.

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow City Council commissioned three paintings by artist Beryl Cook, an English artist famous for her colourful depictions of ordinary people going about their daily lives; and the Queen came to town, visiting some of the venues taking part in the year-long celebration.

Glasgow 1990 also marked the launch of Doors Open Day, as it became the first city in Britain to host one.

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One of the biggest community arts projects of the year was Keeping Glasgow in Stitches, designed to capture the essence of the city in tapestry form. It was co-ordinated by Needleworks, a community sewing enterprise based in Partick.

Glasgow Times:

The legacy of 1990 lives on. Just three months ago, the city was listed as the top cultural and creative centre in the UK in a report from the European Commission.

*What are your memories of Glasgow 1990? Did you attend any of the big events or did you take part in a community festival? Send your memories and photographs to or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3QB.