40 fantastic moments from Paisley 2021

The Paisley 2021 bid gave the town the chance to show the world what makes it so special - and this journey will continue despite missing out on the title of UK City of Culture 2021.

Paisley was shortlisted for the title in July and was the only town to ever make it this far in the competition. Every Buddie should be proud of their efforts. 

The bidding process has been a great thing for the town and has helped transform Paisley's reputation by telling Scotland the UK and the world why we matter.

Here, we take a look back at just some of the amazing moments from Paisley's 2021 bid.

1) Paisley 2021 is officially launched – November 2015


More than 350 people gathered in the picturesque Paisley Abbey for the official launch of Paisley's bid to be UK City of Culture 2021. The evening, which was hosted by broadcaster Shereen Nanjani, featured a fabulous performance by Paisley's own Pace Youth Theatre group.


2) Indian fashion show – January 2016


The famous Paisley Pattern was the star of the show during a cross-cultural fashion extravaganza featuring students from India and Scotland. A delegation from Glasgow Kelvin College travelled to Andhra Pradesh in India and a group from the Government Polytechnic for Women in the city of Guntur jetted over later in the month for the special show to parade the Paisley Pattern at the Abbey.


3) Paisley 2021 Stadium signs unveiled – February 2016


After announcing that their home would be renamed the Paisley 2021 Stadium in November 2015, St Mirren unveiled new branding at their home stadium to show their support for the bid. Signs carrying the colourful Paisley 2021 brand identity were erected around St Mirren’s stadium as part of an original two-year sponsorship and stadium naming rights deal.


4) British Pipe Band Championships – May 2016


Paisley played host to one of the biggest events in world piping as 15,000 people turned out for the British Pipe Band Championships in May 2016. A record entry of around 4,000 pipers and drummers descended on St James Playing Fields at the championship's first ever visit to the town.


5) Scottish Album of the Year Award – June 2016


Paisley Town Hall lit up for one of the biggest dates in Scotland's musical calendar when it hosted the SAY Award on the first time it had ever left Glasgow. At the ceremony, presented by co-hosts Vic Galloway and Janice Forsyth, Anna Meredith emerged as the winner of the £20,000 prize for her hit album Varmints.


6) Glasgow Airport back the bid – June 2016


Paisley's bid for UK City of Culture was cleared for take off after being backed by bosses at Glasgow Airport. A special event saw attractions including a Paisley-themed 3D-effect artwork created by artist Duncan Wilson and the chance for travellers to take pictures with Paisley-2021-branded photo props.


7) Pride of Paisley lions a roaring success – July 2016


The Pride of Paisley lions were unveiled by Paisley First business improvement district and proved to be a roaring success. Twenty five lions were positioned at locations all across the town and were a big draw for kids, families, shoppers and visitors to the town during their three month stay.


8) PACE kids take Paisley to London – September 2016


Young people from PACE Theatre Group led a delegation to London for a reception in the Houses of Commons celebrating the town’s creative scene. The group from PACE, the youth theatre which started the careers of Paolo Nutini and James McAvoy, promoted Paisley's Untold Story at the event hosted by Renfrewshire MPs Mhairi Black and Gavin Newlands.


9) The Spree festival returns – October 2016

The annual festival of music, comedy and more took over the town centre for a fifth year – with the bulk of the action in the Spiegeltent in County Square. The nine-day festival saw over 4,000 tickets sold and more than 1,000 children attend free day-time workshops during the October school holiday.


10) Paolo Nutini backs Paisley 2021 – November 2016

Paisley’s musical megastar Paolo Nutini showed his support for Paisley 2021 with a surprise video message broadcast to a crowd of 30,000 at Paisley's Christmas Light Switch-on event. This coincided with the first anniversary of the bid launch.


11) Paisley 2021 goes to Holyrood – December 2016


Paisley took over the home of the Scottish Parliament with a rousing reception to mark the town's bid for UK City of Culture 2021. Artists, poets, actors and musicians from Paisley joined representatives from the public, private and third sectors and MSPs to celebrate the phenomenal support for the town's bid.


12) Paisley showcased in LEGO video – February 2017

Iconic Paisley landmarks and famous faces were reimagined in a stunning stop-motion animation LEGO film by local teenager Morgan Spence. The 17-year-old, who received funding for the film from Paisley’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund to create the video, hilariously captured Paisley “Buddies” in action, including actors David Tennant, Gerard Butler and singer Paolo Nutini.


13) Gerard Butler backs Paisley 2021 – February 2017


A certain Hollywood megastar was left impressed by Morgan Spence's LEGO video - Gerard Butler. The Paisley-born actor spoke of his pride at being recreated in the animated film in support of Paisley's bid for UK City of Culture 2021 bid. Taking to his Twitter and Facebook accounts to back the bid, Gerard said: “Honoured to make the cut, especially in Lego form. Paisley 2021, you have my support!”


14) Stunning kingfisher mural unveiled – February 2017


Paisley became the first Business Improvement District in Scotland to have a gable end transformed into a giant mural by Paisley First. The beautiful artwork, which received funding from Renfrewshire’s Culture Events and Heritage Fund, highlights the work of Paisley-born ornithologist Alexander Wilson, as well as iconic buildings and local wildlife. It was the first of a series of murals to be created in Paisley’s town centre.


15) Coats back Paisley 2021 – March 2017


The world's leading industrial thread manufacturer Coats showed its support for the Paisley 2021 bid. The famous global name can be traced back to the Coats and Clark families that created the weaving and textile industries in Paisley during the 1750s. The families were also major benefactors to the town, including buildings such as the Coats Observatory and the Grand Fountain.


16) Brad Paisley backs the bid – March 2017


Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 gained support from the town’s superstar namesake – Grammy-award-winning US country artist Brad Paisley. The star posed for pictures with a specially-branded Paisley 2021 taxi ahead of his show at Glasgow's Clyde Auditorium. He was also presented with a Paisley tartan tie which was produced by the town’s Houston Kiltmakers.


17) School pupils shape Paisley 2021 bid – March 2017


Every school pupil in Renfrewshire was given the chance to shape Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 thanks to a specially-commissioned children’s short story. Gracie's Big Idea, written by an award-winning author Ross Mackenzie and illustrated by Neil Slorance, was given to 14,000 primary pupils and asked them to submit one idea they would like to see as part of the bid.


18) Creative Scotland chief visits YDance event – April 2017


Janet Archer, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland, visited Paisley to see the showcase of the Look Up, Look Under Look Out school project by national youth dance organisation YDance. The project was one of 46 funded by Renfrewshire’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund and worked with eight primary schools to produce a dance piece on the area’s architecture or history.


19) Paisley 2021 bid marked with Baker Street show - April 2017


Paisley helped see off its bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 with a spectacular outdoor rendition of Gerry Rafferty’s classic Baker Street. Coordinated by Loud ‘n’ Proud, around 25 saxophonists joined a live band and a crowd of hundreds on the town’s High Street to perform the hit. The event was also special as it marked the week of what would have been the singer’s 70th birthday.


20) Diageo back the bid – April 2017


Did you know around 30% of the world’s Scotch is bottled right here in Renfrewshire? Diageo’s plant near Braehead is responsible for some of the industry’s most iconic brands and they threw their support behind Paisley 2021 by unveiling these beautiful limited-edition Paisley-branded bottles of Johnnie Walker.


21) Human Paisley Pattern marks bid submission – April 2017


Paisley submitted its UK City of Culture 2021 bid with a mass show of support from the community. School pupils, business owners, community and cultural groups and members of the bid team joined together in the shape of a human Paisley Pattern in the town centre – co-ordinated by staff and young people from the town’s PACE Youth Theatre Group.


22) Pringle reveals Paisley Pattern collection - May 2017


The iconic Paisley Pattern is to feature in luxury knitwear brand, Pringle of Scotland’s autumn/winter 2017 collection. The link-up is part of wider plans to connect the town back to the globally-recognised pattern through working with external textile and fashion related industry experts.


23) Gordon Leslie Group backs bid - June 2017


Hillington-based distribution company Gordon Leslie Group agreed to fly the flag for Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid – after revealing a branded truck and trailer. The firm provide distribution and storage services throughout the UK and beyond.


24) Paolo Nutini announces exclusive Spree Abbey gig - June 2017


Paisley’s musical megastar Paolo Nutini announced an exclusive one-off homecoming charity show in the stunning surroundings of Paisley Abbey to back the town’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid. The show – on Friday 20 October – topped the bill for the town’s annual Spree festival and was in support of a number of local good causes.


25) Paisley lodges bid to host 2021 Mòd - June 2017


Paisley lodged a bid to bring the world’s largest celebration of Gaelic language and culture back to town. The town's previous staging of the Royal National Mòd in 2013 was the second-largest in the event’s history.


26) First-ever Weave festival attracts thousands - July 2017


Thousands of people descended on Paisley town centre for the first-ever Weave festival, celebrating the town’s radical history and heritage. Taking place alongside the annual Sma' Shot Day celebrations, the weekend festival was one of Visit Scotland’s signature events in Scotland’s 2017 Year of Heritage, History and Archaeology.


27) Paisley is shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2021 – July 2017


All of Paisley were celebrating after the town was named as the sole Scottish bidder on the shortlist for the next stage of the UK City of Culture 2021 competition. The UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport confirmed the 11 places bidding for the title had been narrowed down to just five – Paisley, Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.


28) Scotland's First Minister backs Paisley 2021 - July 2017


Just days after Paisley was named on the shortlist for the prestigious title, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave the Paisley's UK City of Culture 2021 bid the seal of approval. The First Minister said: “Congratulations to Paisley for reaching the next stage in becoming UK City of Culture 2021. It’s a huge boost for a place whose cultural life is clearly thriving. To get down to the last five is an incredible achievement, and Paisley now represents Scotland in the bid for this prestigious title. I wish them all the very best.”


29) Paisley shows its passion with first Tango Festival - August 2017


Dancers from the UK and beyond visited the town for the first ever Paisley International Tango Festival. The project was funded by Renfrewshire’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund and saw a weekend full of dance classes, masterclasses and workshops by world renowned tango music performers.


30) Paisley Museum secures £4.9m funding boost - September 2017


Plans to transform Paisley Museum into a world-class destination based around the town’s unique heritage and textile story were boosted by a £4.9m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Renfrewshire Council had previously set aside £24.1m towards the proposed £42m revamp of the museum.


31) Mass choirs give emotional send-off to Paisey 2021 bid - September 2017

Hundreds of choir singers gathered in Paisley town centre to send-off Paisley's UK City of Culture 2021 bid with a moving rendition of Wild Mountain Thyme led by local singing star Carol Laula. The bid was then driven off on board a scooter emblazoned in Paisley’s globally-recognised Pattern.


32) Scottish landmarks light up to support Paisley - September 2017

Scotland showed its support for Paisley's bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 as some of the nation’s most iconic landmarks lit up in Paisley 2021's signature red colour to show their support and mark the occasion. Participating venues included Edinburgh Castle, The Kelpies, University of Glasgow, Dundee’s Caird Hall and Paisley’s own Town Hall.


33) Paisley artists create unique UK City of Culture bid cover designs - October 2017

Artists, designers and groups with links to the town were invited to create front covers for Paisley’s 2021 UK City of Culture bid. The bid 25 covers, which showcased the town’s unique heritage and range of creative talent, were submitted to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in London.


34) Paisley to host the Royal National Mòd - October 2017

It was announced that Paisley will play host to the Royal National Mòd within the next five years. Paisley or Perth will host the event in 2021, with the decision made on a point scoring system. The place which does not host in 2021, will stage the event the following year.


35) Paolo Nutini wows crowd with stunning homecoming show - October 2017

Paisley’s homegrown musical megastar Paolo Nutini played a triumphant charity gig in the stunning setting of the town’s 850-year-old Abbey. The gig was the headline show of the Spree Festival raised in excess of £20,000 for five local charities selected by Paolo himself.


36) Paisley school kids set world record - October 2017

School kids from Paisley became record breakers as more than 400 pupils from eight local primaries took part in the world’s largest ever architecture lesson. Using coding game Minecraft, pupils were guided through a history of Paisley’s architecture while also learning how to use code to quickly create buildings within the game.


37) Paisley to host British Pipe Band Championships until 2021 - November 2017

Pipe bands from around the world will be heading back to Paisley after the town won its bid to host the British Pipe Band Championships for another three years up until 2021. Paisley had already hosted the event in 2016 and 2017, and is due to do so again in 2018.


38) Thousands turn out for Paisley Christmas Lights Switch-On - November 2017

Northern Irish rockers Ash marked the start of the festive season in Paisley as around 25,000 revellers turned out for the town's annual Christmas Lights Switch-On. Festive fun seekers enjoyed a host of free family entertainment during the day, including the famous Reindeer Parade down High Street.


39) Paisley opens new £3.7m museum store in first for UK High Street - November 2017

Paisley unveiled a treasure trove of museum items with a new £3.7m facility - believed to be a first for a UK High Street. Paisley: The Secret Collection will house tens of thousands of items from Renfrewshire’s collections in a purpose-built publicly-accessible storage unit aimed at bringing new footfall into the town centre.


40) Paisley shows connections with India through Digital Tapestry project - November 2017

School pupils from Paisley and India created a unique artwork based on their shared lives. The Paisley and Jodhpur Digital Tapestry installation is the second half of a project, which launched with a Musical Tapestry collaboration between Scottish and Indian musicians at Paisley's annual Spree Festival in October. The tapestry was unveiled at Paisley Piazza, where it will remain for the next six months.