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All you need to know about Scotland’s festival of light Spectra in Aberdeen

spectra aberdeen
The stunning artwork Gaia will inspire awe at Aberdeen Art Gallery during the Spectra festival of light.

Scotland’s festival of light is coming to Aberdeen from tomorrow.

From where you’ll be able to see stunning light installations, to which Scottish writers took part in the festival, read on for all you need to know about Spectra.

What is Spectra?

Spectra is a popular urban light festival that will bring four days of family-friendly fun to the north-east. This year’s event also marks Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 which celebrates stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland.

When will the festival take place?

From Thursday February 10 to Sunday February 13 – between 6.30pm and 10pm – Spectra will light up the winter nights in Aberdeen.

Which Aberdeen buildings will light up this February?

This year, the works of art created in light will appear on Marischal College, Union Street, Broad Street, Upperkirkgate, Schoolhill, Marischal Square, and Aberdeen Art Gallery.

What will be on display and where?

  • TOGETHER by Lucid Creates – Castlegate

TOGETHER will be a pavilion-like structure, with giant, ribbon-like rings, offering a unique and immersive experience using text, light and music.

This will be the first time the touring installation has appeared in Scotland and is crafted by Lucid Creates, a partnership between Chris Carr and Helen Swan, whose spectacular works have been seen from Glastonbury to Ibiza.

  • GAIA by Luke Jerram – Aberdeen Art Gallery’s Sculpture Hall

Measuring seven metres in diameter, Gaia features detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface. The artwork provides the opportunity to see our planet on this scale, floating in three dimensions.

spectra festival aberdeen
“Gaia” will be displayed in Aberdeen during Spectra festival.
  • MUSEUM OF THE MOON by Luke Jerram – Music Hall

This installation – which is a fusion of lunar imagery, moonlight and surround sound composition – celebrates “the moon which connects us all”.

Museum of the Moon by Luke Jerram.
  • Writ Large and Six Frames by Illuminos – Marischal College

The words of some of Scotland’s most-talented writers will be splashed across iconic Aberdeen buildings. This will include the world premiere of the new art installation Six Frames which will take Aberdeen art-lovers on a beautiful bus journey across the city.

Inspired by Sheena Blackhall’s Doric poem Twa Brigs Bussie, the work – called Six Frames  – will recreate the same route described in the poem,  from “Brig o Dee to Music Haa to Justice Coort” and beyond.

spectra doric aberdeen
Spectra will transform Marischal College into a colourful bus journey through Aberdeen, inspired by Sheena Blackhall’s poetry.
  • HYPERCUBE! by Travelling Light Circus – Bon Accord entrance

Described as an infinity mirror in three dimensions, Travelling Light Circus believe they have created the biggest hypercube in the world. When you look into it, the mirrors repeat the moving patterns of LEDs to create a world of infinitely repeating lights.

spectra festival aberdeen
Travelling Light Circus created what might be the world’s biggest hypercube.
  • TRUMPET FLOWERS by Amigo & Amigo – Broad Street

Locals and visitors alike will be surrounded by an explosive and immersive jungle of light, colour and sound when they step into a “giant’s garden” created by Amigo & Amigo. The flowers will play its own commissioned musical score – a piece composed and played by Otis studio and some of Sydney’s finest jazz musicians.

Trumpet Flowers will feature in Spectra 2022.
  • PENDULUM WAVE MACHINE by Travelling Light Circus – Broad Street

This mesmerising machine is sure to captivate everyone with its magical, mechanical movements, hypnotically swinging back and forth.

Pendulum Wave Machine.
  • STORYTELLING by Pauline Cordiner and Lindsey Gibb – Marischal Square

Aberdonians will also have a chance to join storytellers Pauline Cordiner and Lindsey Gibb for upbeat tales of magic and mystery.

  • PRISM – Look Again Project Space

PRISM will be the first in a series of experiments in artistic interaction by five artists, each of whom uses colour in different ways and for different reasons.

  • Catalyst Conference – Culture Is Not A Luxury – Friday February 11, online

Featuring a panel of expert speakers from the arts, education, heritage, tourism and business sectors, the Catalyst Conference will interrogate the role of culture in the wake of the pandemic, asking who speaks for change and how the sector goes about delivering it.

Dame Evelyn Glennie will be the new chancellor of Robert Gordon University.
Dame Evelyn Glennie. Photo by Caroline Purday.

This year’s panel includes musician and Robert Gordon University chancellor Dame Evelyn Glennie, architect, TV host and director Danny Forster as well as Khaleda Noon – founder and executive director of charity Intercultural Youth Scotland. Click here for more information on how to attend.

Do I need to buy tickets?

No, the festival and all its light installations are free.

Who is behind Spectra in Aberdeen?

The event is organised by Curated Place and Aberdeen City Council.

Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council culture spokesperson, said: “Aberdeen City Council is proud to invest in and deliver a year-round events calendar, bringing high-quality activities and culture to our public spaces and in 2022 the Spectra programme, inspired by Scotland’s Year of Stories, is set to be truly world-class.

“Cities are spaces that thrive when people are walking the streets together and enjoying events like Spectra, so we’re truly excited to welcome audiences back to the city centre after a very difficult couple of years dealing with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Click here for more information about the festival.

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