An underground car park, a disused swimming pool, a school playground.

The venues might be eclectic as it comes, but this year's Glasgow International - the contemporary art festival which two years ago brought us Jeremy Deller's popular inflatable Stonehenge - boasts a range of artists that its new director, Sarah McCrory, hopes will provide even more surprises.

With so many internationally acclaimed artists based in Glasgow, the city could easily hold a festival based on its own talents,. But in a year when the Commonwealth comes to Glasgow, McCrory is looking further afield for the festival's 52 exhibitions and 90 performances, events and talks.

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This is McCrory's first GI after three years at Frieze in London, where she curated projects that ran alongside the annual art fair, including a series for London's Cultural Olympiad in 2012. "I thought I'd stick with the Glasgow format as it seemed that it was working quite well," she says. "But on top of that, I've tried to invite a number of international artists as well as those who live and work in Scotland."

The expanded international remit is something McCrory was keen on, particularly in a year when the focus across Scotland is on Scottish artists, not least as part of the Generation programme that will see a number of high-profile and emerging artists from here mount major exhibitions, from the National Galleries in Edinburgh to the Pier Arts Centre in Orkney.

"I didn't approach any artists working on something for Generation to be part of the festival this year," explains McCrory. "Many of the artists taking part in that have either shown very recently in Scotland or have a strong history of working here, and I want Glasgow International to feel very fresh for people who work here as well. It's an opportunity to see things that we don't often see in the city. "

But placing our own artists in that international context has also been important for McCrory, who cites Sue Tompkins and Charlotte Prodger as just two of the Scots exhibiting who many people "don't realise have a really international reputation and career".

The Director's Programme, curated by McCrory, is complemented by a series of International Festival commissions, a series of "Supported" exhibitions (funded by GI) and an "Included" programme that features new exhibitions across Glasgow.

McCrory, who has been keen to include more work from artists working with technological media, has chosen widely. The American artist Michael Smith, who works largely in performance, video and installation and is known for his innocent alter ego "Mike", will exhibit at Tramway alongside Welshman Bedwyr Williams.

Elsewhere, Aleksandra Domanovic will exhibit work exploring "the marginalised representation of women within popular science fiction and time travel" at GoMA from the viewpoint of a female cosmonaut. Other names include Jordan Wolfson, with a series of videos (his disturbing animatronic woman exhibited at David Zwirner Gallery was recently the talk of New York). For those who aren't sure "if modern art is for them", says McCrory, Anthea Hamilton and Nicholas Byrne's exhibition of inflatable sculptures in the former Govanhill Baths are "lovely objects to look at, and fun".

McCrory has also taken the relatively unknown Brazilian artist, Hudinilson Jr, and curated a show of his images, from art created out of his underpants to his diaries. "He was just becoming better known when he sadly died aged 56 last year," she says. "He was an artist doing what he could with what he had."

Many new exhibitions will also run across the city, from Jim Lambie curating his own work alongside that of Andy Warhol and Baldvin Ringsted at Voidoid Archive, to American photographer Anne Collier at the Modern Institute in her first UK solo show and Lucy Reynold's "feminist chorus" at Glasgow Women's Library.

"I think people don't realise how well known Glasgow International is internationally," says McCrory. Her long-term goal is to increase that profile and get more support, "to allow more ambitious projects, or allow artists to do something they haven't done before". In the meantime, like Hudinilson Jr, she is doing what she can with the considerable artistic assets that Glasgow has.

Glasgow International is at venues across Glasgow from April 4-21 (0141 276 8384,