A guide to… The SSE Hydro, Glasgow
Glasgow’s never exactly been short of gigs, but the SSE Hydro is the latest addition that’s seen the city’s musical draw widen dramatically. Country stars, rock bands and pop divas who had so often skipped over the country now have a place to go that’s up to the job of hosting them and their massive crowds. So, here’s the who-what-where-when-why on this technicolour bubble.
What’s on at The SSE Hydro?
The SSE Hydro is a relatively new venue in Glasgow that hosts a wide range of shows from music to sports. It has been used for some events at the 2014 Commonwealth as well as hosting some down’n’dirty rock’n’roll.
Who can I see at the Hydro?
Well, as well as hosting the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2014, it’s had massive acts from across the musical spectrum, from Eric Clapton, Dolly Parton, Rod Stewart and Beyoncé, to Queens of the Stone Age, Black Sabbath and 30 Seconds to Mars.
Let’s not forget Danny Elfman who played music from Tim Burton’s movies to a packed-out Hydro, which proved a stellar venue for enhancing an orchestral presence; WWE Live is now a regular at the Hydro; Ant & Dec brought their touring Saturday Night Takeaway to the dome; and a staple of Scottish entertainment, Still Game’s live residency sold out countless nights at the venue.
Basically, it’s overtaken the SECC as the go-to place for big acts when they visit Scotland, and it has a little bit of everything.
When are events on?
The Hydro is busy. There are generally several shows that take place each week, which includes one-off events and residencies that book out the venue for a number of nights. Its website claims there are roughly 140 events which take place in the colourful arena per year.
Where is The SSE Hydro located?
SECC, Exhibition Way, Glasgow G3 8YW
It’s next to the SECC, by the River Clyde. It’s easy to get to with trains running every few minutes from Glasgow Central to the Scottish Exhibition Centre stop for about £2 return. Go through the giant-bridge-tunnel and voila! You’re there.
If you’re driving, there’s a multi-storey car park with 1600 spaces next to the venue. However, it can be tricky for hundreds of cars to vacate the area at once without delays, and it’s also a bit nippy on the purse strings falling into the 2-12 hour price gap of £7 per stay. There are multiple bridges across the river that lead to alternative car parks and streets with free car parking; many concert-goers prefer to walk a bit and skip the car park, whereas others prefer to be right in the action.
If you happen to be flying in for a show (Nice wee one-off trip or following a tour?), it’s approximately a 15-minute drive from Glasgow International Airport and 45 minutes from Prestwick.
If it’s a particularly sunny day, or you just enjoy walking, it’s also possible to walk from the city centre in about half an hour. So, it’s pretty accessible via all means of transport, unless you’re paragliding.
Why visit Glasgow’s music venue?
Why go to the Hydro, you ask? Aside from being able to see pretty much anyone you’d hope to there, it’s genuinely a good venue. Your seats could be in the back row, practically hanging from the rafters, and you would still be able to see. Despite the arena being massive, the venue’s unique shape means there’s still a sense of intimacy when watching a performance.
And the extra bits…
Now you’ve bought your tickets and have made your journey to the Hydro, you’ll maybe want some food and drink. Luckily, it’s almost a uniformed price across the board regardless of where you go: £4 a pint, £4.50 for a wee bottle of wine and £3 to snack away on bags of chocolate.
What food and amenities are available?
In terms of actual food, there’s quite a range to choose from:
1. RockSalt | Haddock & chips (£7.50), Scampi & chips (£8)
2. Big Grill | Burgers (£6.50), Rodeo Burger (£7) + Fries (£2.50 – + cheese 50p, bacon £1), Hunters Chicken (£7.50), Bean Burger (£6), Fries (£3)
3. Pizza Love | Margarita (£8), other pizzas (£8.50), Nachos (£5)
4. Hot Wok | Crunchy Chicken Satay (£7), Veg curry (£6), Beef Singapore (£7.50), Chinese chicken curry (£6), Chicken fried rice (£6.50) + £1 for curry sauce.
Need the toilet? It’s not hard to find one. Even the mid floors that would normally have nothing have toilets situated. Regardless of where you are, you’re probably ten steps away from one (maybe a slight exaggeration…).
If you’re a fan of the mementos (we all like to remember a good night with a shirt or something of the like) you’re looking at around £20-£30 per T-shirt. There’s also a stall outside that sells merchandise if you happen to forget when you’re inside the venue.
How do you buy tickets for events at the Hydro?
If you’re keen on attending a concert, your best bet is to sign up to the SSE Reward scheme. You can sign up on the Hydro’s website, and it gets you access to tickets before the general on sale. By signing up, you’ll often be able to purchase tickets up to 48 hours before everyone else.
Fun fact. When you leave, check out the venue once outside. In the dark, it glows in a number of colours from the rainbow. It’s definitely one of the prettier venues you’re likely to come across in the country. Rumour has it if you leave during the show it flashes in time with the beats inside, but that might just be an urban legend.