Spectra celebrates over 100,000 visits to brilliant Aberdeen city centre in 10th anniversary year

Credit: Ian Georgeson

Spectra, Scotland’s Festival of Light, celebrated its 10th anniversary in style with over 100,000 thousand visits to festival sites throughout the heart of Aberdeen.

Celebrating the theme of Connections, Scotland’s biggest and brightest light festival, brought artists from all over the world to the Granite City showcasing an exciting range of light installations and projections for individuals, couples, friends and families to enjoy. 

From the stunning commission by Heinrich & Palmer, Winds of Change, which explores Aberdeen’s maritime journey and will remain in the city as part of Aberdeen Art Gallery’s permanent collection, to Submergence by arts collective Squidsoup, which allowed visitors to wander through swaying fronds of lights in Union Terrace Gardens, there was something for all ages to enjoy.  

The Gallery’s Remembrance Hall also featured Butterfly Dream, a luminously beautiful installation by artist Anne Bennett, and His Majesty’s Theatre was lit up by a dazzling new projected artwork by Double Take

In Marischal College audiences gazed upwards as Lightstream, by Edinburgh-based Flora Litchfield, utilised fog laden lasers to create an ethereal environment, which, matched by a soundscape of light voices, took them on an awe-inspiring, audio-visual journey.  

In Union Terrace Gardens Flow employed dynamic light to weave beautiful patterns through the undulating landscape, and Affinity by Amigo & Amigo, a colossal light sculpture, invited audiences into a network of light globes inspired by the connections in the human brain.  

Throughout the festival site audiences also enjoy the Northern Lights programme: a selection of ten specially commissioned augmented reality artworks created by emerging artists from the North East, alongside surprising treats like displays of light projection that dappled across St Nicholas Kirk, and artworks created by local schools and community inspired by the SPECTRA 2024 installations. 

Local businesses embraced the festival like never before with audiences able to enjoy a plethora of deals across hospitality, travel, and accessibility. These included Sandman Signature Aberdeen, Common Sense Coffee House & Bar, The Townhouse Bar & Kitchen and Shot n Roll. Dough & Co created a Spectra doughnut, Mackies (who enjoyed their most profitable evening ever over the weekend) produced their first ever glow in the dark ice cream and both Resident X and The Terrace at HMT created bespoke Spectra cocktails in honour of the festival’s 10th anniversary. 

Aberdeen City Council once again partnered with First Bus to offer a number of free bus tickets for those travelling to Spectra, and for the first time Stagecoach offered up to 50% off on tickets. 

In 2024 accessibility was made a priority with all maps highlighting accessible entrances, additional standalone accessible maps, and two dedicated accessibility welcome desks, in addition to accessible parking and toilets. Once again, the festival worked with WeToo and Abledeen to make the site and installations as accessible as possible, and welcomed A-ND‘s Binky sensory bus for those who needed a break from the crowds.

Inspired by Butterfly Dream, Aberdeen City Council, in collaboration with local businesses created a Hidden Butterfly Trail and competition, to celebrate the fusion of art, community and sustainability. 

In 2024 the festival was delighted to welcome on board sponsors Burness Paull, a full-service independent Scottish commercial law firm, for the first time, and it was also the first time the festival was produced by local business Live Event Management.

Councillor Martin Greig, culture spokesperson for Aberdeen City Council, said “Spectra, Scotland’s Festival of Light, has had another successful year with thousands of visitors turning out during the event to enjoy the illuminating artwork on display across the city centre. Even when the weather turned, the crowds were still there with smiles on their faces. 

“The artists have been overjoyed by the response to their work and the welcome they have received in the city, and businesses are reporting record takings around the festival sites. It has been a huge effort from Aberdeen City Council staff and our partners to deliver this festival and we are very proud of everyone involved that has made it such a great success.” 

A leading light of the North-East’s year-round cultural calendar, Spectra is funded by Aberdeen City Council and created in collaboration with production company Live Event Management.