Biggest light festival in Scotland returns to revamped gardens

Spectra has returned to Aberdeen's Union Terrace Gardens for the first time in five years.

The biggest light festival of its kind in Scotland has returned following a record attendance last year.

For the first time in five years, Spectra is being held in Union Terrace Gardens after the area underwent a £28.3m regeneration.

Some of the artworks on show have travelled the world, but others have been created with a north-east twist specifically for the Aberdeen festival.

Nights in the city centre will be transformed with light and sound, all taking inspiration from this year’s theme – ‘Home’.

Visitors can expect to see illuminated plants and wildlife as they walk down the steps, designed to help lift the February blues.

And when they are on the main lawn, Luminosi Trees have got their own soundtrack to provide a bit of meditation.

Gemma Davis designed the Illumaphonium with her husband.

And they might need a bit of relaxation before setting their sights on what the artist has called ‘a humanoid’ – a gigantic inflatable man.

Gemma Davis, who designed Illumaphonium chime bars with her husband, said: “We really understand and believe in the power and confidence it can give people to create with strangers.

“We wanted to break down the barriers that people sometimes put between themselves and their creativity by creating this instrument that no one can play badly.”

Almost a decade ago, Spectra held its pilot festival in the city’s Union Terrace Gardens.

Despite being away from the venue for five years, the 2022 event held across Aberdeen pulled in 116,000 visitors to see the Granite City in all its illuminated glory.

Alison Brodie, curator for the festival, said: “I think it’s something that really lights up what can be a long, dark stretch between new year and spring.

“It’s a real opportunity for people to come together in the city centre and connect. It appeals to people of all ages and brings footfall into the city centre.”

The festival has grown year on year – but it’s ninth outing has proved its most expensive yet. Aberdeen City Council said it was costing nearly £300,000.

Councillor Martin Greig said: “We have thought very carefully. We need to have the arts in our lives, we need entertainment, we need culture, so on balance it seems right to be holding Spectra, even though we are going through some tough economic times.

“It feels worthwhile and people in the community are enjoying and benefitting from this.”

Spectra light festival runs until Sunday between 6.30pm and 10pm.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code