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The Out About Scotland complete guide to The Glasgow SECC
Category: Event, Exhibition
Suitable for ages: 11 to 18 years, 18+ years, 65+ years
Ideal for: Couples, Families, Groups, Solo travellers
I rate it: 6 out of 10
About The Glasgow SECC
The Glasgow Scottish Event Campus Centre is Scotland’s largest exhibition arena and is home to some of the biggest artistic events in the entire Scottish calendar.
Everything from classical music, dance shows, pop music extravaganzas to sports events are hosted in the exhibition halls, and any trip to Glasgow should include a visit to the site if only for the photo opportunities.
Although the SECC is a relatively new addition to the Glasgow cityscape – opening in 1985 – it has become one of the city’s most photographed attractions, and also one of its most-visited.
The campus is made up of three separate buildings – the Armadillo, the Hydro and the SEC Centre – but it’s the first two that are the most impressive (and the most photogenic).
These buildings are unlike anything elsewhere in the UK and they’re a real head-turner, especially when viewed from the bank of the River Clyde at night when they’re lit up.
While the SECC isn’t really a tourist attraction as such I think it’s absolutely worth visiting if you’re ever in Glasgow, especially as it’s so easily accessible from the city centre.
Things to do at The Glasgow SECC
Arguably the most famous building on the campus is also the most striking, having gained the affectionate name of ‘the Armadillo’ due to its multi-layered rooftop.
This building was constructed in 1997 with the design coming from the imagination of the famous British architect Sir Norman Foster, and today the 3000 capacity building is considered one of the architectural highlights of the city.
To my mind it looks like a mini version of the Sydney Opera House, and let’s be honest, that’s not a bad thing to be compared to by any means.
But there’s more to the event campus than the Armadillo. The SECC occupies over 64 acres of prime land on the north bank of the River Clyde, with the SEC Centre and SSE Hydro also taking up prime real-estate in this recently regenerated part of Glasgow.
Access to the site has been made a top priority for the city council and not only are there frequent buses and taxis, but the SECC even has its own railway station as part of the Argyle Line railway network.
The SSE Hydro will be known to many Scots as the principal concert arena in the country, and this 12,500 seat venue is viewed as one of the top arenas in the world, ranking third in the Pollstar Top 100 global arenas and number 1 in the Billboard arena charts.
Over a million visitors pour through its doors each year to view upwards of 70 concerts, which makes a visit to the £50 million building quite an experience.
The Hydro has also been showered with awards for its design, including the Chairman’s Award for Architecture at the Scottish Design Awards and the Architectural Excellence Award at the Scottish Property Awards.
The SEC Centre quickly gained the nickname of ‘the big red shed’ when it opened in 1985 due to the rather strange decision to paint it like a giant red warehouse, however, it’s since been painted a rather less glamorous grey.
Even so, the SEC Centre has received over 1.5 million visitors since opening and it promptly planted itself in history as officially being Scotland’s most-visited venue.
If you’re after a bite to eat you’ll find the Clydebuilt Bar and Kitchen at the east entrance of the SEC Centre which is open whenever there’s a conference, exhibition or concert happening but there are vending machines on the main concourse if the Clydebuilt bar is closed.
Today the SECC is just one of many must-see attractions if you head towards the River Clyde during your visit to Scotland’s largest city, with the Science Centre, The Tall Ship, and Riverside Museum (amongst others), all within easy walking distance.
What I liked about this attraction
- It’s an impressive collection of architecture
- It’s close to lots of other Glasgow attractions
My top tips
- The best way to get to the SECC is via the Exhibition Centre railway station on the Argyll Line
- Or walk from the St. Enoch SPT subway station
Address and directions map
The SECC Glasgow Scottish Event Campus Centre is located just outside Glasgow city centre in the west-end. The campus is accessible by numerous transport options.
Scottish Event Campus,
Prices and opening times
The Glasgow SECC opening hours are dependent on the event being hosted. Prices also vary by the event, so please check the SECC website for further information.
Getting there: Bus stop nearby, Car park nearby, Train station nearby
Getting around: Disabled access, Easy-access paths, Pushchair access, Stairs
On-site conveniences: Hot drinks, Restaurant or cafe, Snacks, Toilets