One of Greenock’s most famous sons – the inventor James Watt – will be celebrated in the area’s Galoshans Festival this autumn.

The event runs from October 25 to November 1, promising a “vibrant programme of events”, celebrating creativity and community spirit.

A spokesperson for the organisers said: “The festival combines arts and heritage, centred on the Inverclyde tradition of ‘going Galoshans for Hallowe’en’, a Scottish precursor to American-style Halloween celebrations. Galoshans Festival appeals to a local family audience and fuses creativity with community, and all things scary and spooky.

“Galoshans Festival celebrates the bicentenary of (the death of) local son and world-renowned engineer James Watt, through themes of innovation and light. Throughout the festival, exciting innovative audio-visual artworks will pop up throughout Greenock town centre and Inverclyde Libraries will provide James Watt-themed activities for children.”

The packed festival programme includes:

  • a contemporary arts exhibition;
  • three “spellbinding productions” at Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock;
  • audio visual and sculptural installations;
  • street performances;
  • live music;
  • theatre;
  • film; and
  • free workshops activities for all across Inverclyde’s public spaces and venues.

Get full details on the festival website.

Greenock-based arts charity RIG Arts is leading on the delivery of Galoshans Festival, in collaboration with a consortium of partners. The festival is backed by funding from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and EventScotland.

Paul Bush OBE from EventScotland said: “EventScotland is delighted to support Galoshans through the National Programme fund – helping to grow Scotland’s events offering outside of Edinburgh and Glasgow. Scotland is the perfect stage, both for Halloween celebrations and community-minded events such as this and Galoshans looks set to provide a packed week of creativity and fun for the people Greenock and the surrounding area.”

William Street, Greenock, today


Galoshans Festival will launch on Friday, October 25, with the opening of the James Watt-inspired Innovation & Light contemporary art exhibition at Greenock’s Tobacco Warehouse, accompanied by live music from James Grant and Lola in Slacks. Admission is free and there will be complimentary refreshments.

Inverclyde Culture Day takes place on Saturday, October 26, with local community groups showcasing their creativity. Local streets will come alive with performances from Nunah Street Theatre, Originate Dance Company, Surge and Kayos Youth Theatre.

Professional script and play writers are working with the local St Patrick’s Primary School and St Columba’s High School to research and develop “storytelling tableaux” celebrating Watt’s legacy and the heritage of Inverclyde.

Organisers Rig Arts are also asking local people to register their interest to work with professional prop artists to create a large-scale “kinetic sculpture” to commemorate James Watt.

A spokesperson said: “Composite parts will come together to create the appearance of a working steam engine, bringing together the rich industrial heritage of innovation in Inverclyde and local creative energy.” 

Anyone interested should email or call 01475 649359

Both the tableaux and kinetic sculpture will be part of the Inverclyde Culture Day on October 26 – look out for activities in the Oak Mall in Greenock at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Sunday, October 27, will see the grand Galoshans Parade and Street Party take place in Greenock town centre, from 5.30 p.m. Look out for giant figures, an audio-visual spectacle, music and much more.

The Street Party will focus on Cathcart Square in the town, close to where Watt was born. Expect a 6.30 p.m. start.

Organisers say artists Caroline Campbell and Scott Carroll will bring a “spectacle of sound, light and visuals” to area around Cowan’s Corner. They say: “Steam, repetition, speed, rotation, revolution, water, movement and transport are fused together with 3D elements, original James Watt drawings and sound recordings breathing new life to the legacy of this world-renowned engineer, highlighting the impact of his innovative output on our lives.”

To celebrate Watt’s secretive copying machine, invisible (ink) pens will be available for children to collect for free from all Inverclyde Libraries (with the exception of Greenock South West) on Saturday, October 26.

Residents and visitors are also being asked to look out for a series of artworks by Jason Orr inspired by Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey’s famous sculpture of the great inventor. “Multiple depictions explore what was behind the man, bringing new elements to the surface to create forms that tell his hidden story,” said a spokesperson.

Other artists commissions will include:

  • Door to Door – TRANCND by Bruce Newlands – striking digitally projected artworks taking inspiration from light, innovation and engineering will appear across sites in Inverclyde.
  • Long Green Jaws – an innovative interactive performance using live strings, hydrophone, electronics and projections.
  • Soundplay Interactive Installation: an audio-visual installation by Soundplay artists Ewan Sinclair and Bal Cooke.

Local photographers are being asked to support the festival.

The spokesperson said: “Share your atmospheric images and spooky autumnal shots of Inverclyde. Capture that perfect twilight scene, scary Galoshans faces, or explore this year’s festival themes of innovation and light in celebration of Greenock-born inventor and engineer James Watt.

“Tag @DiscInverclyde on Twitter or @DiscoverInverclyde on Facebook & Instagram to post your shots, hashtag #GaloshansFestival and one of the themes #InverclydeinOctober #spookybeauty or #innvoationandlight.”

Visit to find out more and view full terms and conditions.

As the grand finale to the festival, Glasgow-based Cryptic is presenting an event in Greenock as part of Sonica – Tobacco Warehouse Takeover on November 1, in collaboration with the Scottish Alternative Music Awards.

Visit to discover the full programme of events. You can also follow the Festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @GaloshansFest #GaloshansFestival.

Spooky sights, great music and events will abound during Galoshans Festival. Picture copyright Dougie Coull.
Spooky sights, great music and events will abound during Galoshans Festival. Picture copyright Dougie Coull. Used with permission.