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Glasgow's Festival has a river running through it

I am not sure they receive the recognition they deserve, but there are among the staff at Glasgow Life a posse of young women who are often the city's best advertisement.

As they memorably showed when designer Wayne Hemingway hit the Merchant City with his Vintage Festival, they like nothing better than an excuse to dress up and party, which is very much in the spirit of the Dear Green Place and exactly the image that the city is surely trying to foster in the year when it hosts the Friendly Games.

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They were out in their finery again this week when the cultural programme that will run alongside the jumping and biking was officially launched at the Old Fruitmarket in the City Halls, which will later be handed over to its original owners for the Glasgow Jazz Festival.

Oddly, many of the senior figures on the directorate of the XX Commonwealth Games chose to appear at the event only on video, but they were well represented by their glamorous employees and by a panel of participants to the programme, including comedian Janey Godley, Tron Theatre director Andy Arnold and choreographer Natasha Gilmore, quizzed and chaired by broadcaster Janice Forsyth.

Although much of the content of Festival 2014 - as Glasgow has somewhat cheekily styled its programme of cultural events - was already known, and has been advertised and even previewed in the pages of your favourite newspaper, Forsyth spoke for many in the hall (chiefly creative types but including a few media representatives) when she said that no amount of online listings beat the reality of getting the printed programme fresh from the printers. This "hand-held" reality of what all Glaswegians and the city's summer visitors can look forward to, as a colleague termed it, is something that Ms Forsyth is well qualified to speak of, having been a press officer for Glasgow's much-missed Mayfest. When she said she loves the smell of newly minted brochure, murmurs of agreement echoed round the cobbles and wrought iron of the Candleriggs' charismatic space.

What is also true about having the opportunity to look at the totality of the cultural programme in one handy publication is that connections make themselves obvious, and there is one glorious thread running through the Festival Guide that also runs through the city itself, and has been underplayed so far. That ribbon is the River Clyde, and its tributary just beyond the berth of the tall ship Glen Lee at Zaha Hadid's new edifice, the Kelvin.

Of all the tarting of the civic realm that has been done in the run up to the Games, the work that has gone on along the river has been the transformation that we will all come to value most. 2014 has provided the impetus for the city to finally sort the eyesore and missed opportunity that the riverside had become. Without doubt there was a consciousness of this at Games HQ, but the idea of a pedestrian route linking the new sports arenas in the East End with the SSE Hydro arena has only been spoken of in fairly hushed tones, and certainly not shouted about.

With the appearance of the brochure, it is immediately obvious that the riverbank route will be animated by artists all along the way, with obvious highlights being the Empire Cafe at the Briggait, the reopening of the tower at the Science Centre that had become Glasgow's most embarrassing white elephant, and the revamped Kelvingrove bandstand in the West End, which Belle And Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch assured us this week will be "pretty vibey".

One climax of all this waterside activity will be Cryptic Productions' Sound To Sea musical and naval extravaganza at the start of August, for which - sailors stand in awe - there is even going to be some dredging of the much-silted Clyde. You may have hoped never to have heard the word again, but this is a "legacy" we can all pipe aboard and cheer doon the watter.

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