The Glasgow International Comedy Festival will recognise one of Scotland’s brightest comic talents at their 2023 event with a new award named in honour of Billy Connolly.

The festival returns in 2023 with its first full programme in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and will recognise a show, individual or group ‘that most personifies the Spirit of Glasgow’ with the Sir Billy Connolly Spirit of Glasgow Award.

The accolade, which comes ahead of the Big Yin’s 80th birthday on November 24, will be the only official award given by Glasgow International Comedy Festival (GICF) with the inaugural winner announced at the festival's Closing Gala at the King’s Theatre on Sunday April 2. 

The award has been warmly welcomed by a delighted Connolly, who said: "Glasgow defies description. Many great men and women have tried to describe its spirit and failed miserably. 

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“What do you say about a town that dances, sings, plays and jokes differently from everybody else? The winner of this Award will have to be a nutter like me…"

An independent judging panel will decide which act or individual stands apart at the 2023 festival, which will be held at a range of venues across the city between March 15 to April 2.

Standing as one of the key festival dates on Glasgow’s cultural calendar, the comedy festival celebrates its 20th birthday in 2023.

Founded in 2002 and fully launched in 2003 it has helped showcase local talent and acts from further afield alongside big name stars, with past notables including Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr, Kevin Bridges, Trevor Noah and Steve Martin and Martin Short.

The festival returns in 2023 after the Covid-19 pandemic put its future in doubt. In 2021 it was announced that the festival would no longer continue until new organisers quickly stepped in to save it.

The 2023 event is now being run on a not-for-profit basis by a new company, Glasgow International Comedy Festival Ltd and also GB Festivals Ltd and Salt'n'Sauce Promotions Ltd. 

Several acts have now been confirmed for the 2023 event and Festival Director, Krista MacDonald, said: "It is the beginning of a new era for the Glasgow International Comedy Festival and we are very proud to have Sir Billy Connolly’s support in celebrating the spirit of the city shown through the immense comedy talent on display during our three weeks in March. No one more personifies both that spirit and that talent than Sir Billy.

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“We delivered a smaller scale festival of 126 shows in 2022,” continued Krista, “but this will be first full programme, post-pandemic.

“The festival is a significant part of Scotland’s cultural calendar for two decades. Glasgow is known as one of the funniest cities in the world, for its people, audiences and comedians and we had to reflect this in the festival and ensure that it was celebrated annually. And we want to support the comedy scene in Scotland as it recovers from the pandemic, uniting everyone in the city behind it.”

The GICF was cited, alongside several other events in 2019, among the reasons why the city was recognised by the European Union as a continental music and culture centre.

Chair of Glasgow Life, Bailie Annette Christie is delighted to see Connolly placed at the heart of the 2023 event: “Glasgow and its people are renowned for their great sense of humour, love of comedy and indefatigable spirit, and I can’t think of anyone who represents that life-affirming combination of characteristics more than Sir Billy Connolly.

“That this exciting new award - to recognise outstanding talent at Glasgow International Comedy Festival - is named after and honours the city’s beloved comedy genius, who has put Glasgow firmly on the worldwide comedy stage, gives it even greater importance.”

You can find out more information on the 2023 festival, including how to buy tickets here.