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Concerts, carols and Christmas lights: More details revealed for Aberdeen’s festive celebrations

Christmas lights on Union Street. Picture by Paul Glendell

There is just over a week to go until Aberdeen’s festive celebrations kick off and the city begins its countdown to Christmas.

Aberdeen City Council has now revealed the details of this year’s biggest events, most of which were cancelled last year due to coronavirus restrictions.

Locals and visitors will be treated to the usual seasonal favourites, including the Carol Concerts and a nativity scene in St Nicholas’ kirkyard, as well as the fifth Christmas sculpture trail with an exciting new twist.

Find out all you need to know below.

Christmas Tree Switch-on

The Christmas Tree Switch-On in Castlegate. Picture by Chris Sumner

The first event in the calendar will be the switch-on ceremony for Aberdeen’s Christmas Tree, which is gifted from twin city Stavanger in Norway, on November 18.

The lights at Castlegate will be turned on by Lord Provost Barney Crockett, alongside Deputy Mayor of Stavanger Dagny Sunnanaa Hausken.

Music will be provided by vocal group the Sweet Adelines and the Aberdeen Grammar School Vocal Trio, who will perform a selection of Christmas carols.

Preparations for lighting the streets of the Granite City are also already in progress with cranes seen making their way on Union Street to set the festive displays.

Christmas lights being put up on Union Street today. Pic by Kenny Elrick/DCT Media

Wooden Scuptures Trail

Garry Shand’s Partridge In A Pear Tree sculpture in Castlegate. Picture by Jim Irvine

A favourite aspect of Aberdeen’s seasonal celebrations since it was launched in 2016, the trail of Garry Shand’s wooden sculptures will return to city streets from December 1.

Each of the totem poles represents a gift from the 12 Days of Christmas, and each will also feature a letter – puzzle-lovers of all ages will be able to use the clues to solve the riddle.

And for the first time this year, those who have completed their trail sheets can exchange it for a reward from the Sweet Haus stall at the Christmas Village.

The sculptures will be dotted around the city centre from the start of December until Christmas Eve, and activity sheets can be downloaded from the Aberdeen City Council website or collected from the Sweet Haus.


Hogmanay celebrations at Aberdeen Schoolhill in 2018. Picture by Colin Rennie

Much-missed in 2020, the city’s Hogmanay celebrations will close off the festive season by welcoming in the new year.

There will be live music on Schoolhill from Killers tribute band the Kopycat Killers, while Northsound One DJ Lauren Mitchell will perform a live set before the Silver City Soul Revue take over from 8.30pm.

Aberdeen City Council culture spokeswoman Marie Boulton said: “Christmas in Aberdeen is back and promises to bring some much-needed festive cheer to the city, at what is always a truly magical time of year.

“Christmas in Aberdeen creates over a month of activity that has something for everyone, but most importantly encourages people into the city centre.”

She added: “Our officers and partners are continuing work to ensure our Christmas events can take place in a safe environment whilst still following the current Covid-19 government regulations, and we look forward to Christmas countdown beginning with the Christmas Village launch and Christmas Tree Switch-on event on Thursday 18 November.”

Aberdeen Christmas Village

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “The much-anticipated Christmas Village will bring some much-needed festive cheer to Aberdeen and encourage visitors to come into the city centre to enjoy a fun day out alongside shopping, having dinner or drinks and soaking up the lights, music and atmosphere.

“Aberdeen Inspired is working with Charlie House to deliver the Curated in the Quad market at Marischal College. Every weekend in the run up to Christmas will see a wide range of stallholders selling artisanal produce and unique gifts and we encourage shoppers to support the city centre by shopping local this year.”

To accommodate the Christmas Village, vehicles will be prohibited from driving on Broad Street between its junctions with Gallowgate and Queen Street until 10pm on January 14.

Upperkirkgate between Gallowgate and Flourmill Lane, and Gallowgate between Littlejohn Street and Upperkirkgate, will be closed from 6pm on November 12 and 10pm on January 14.

More information about Aberdeen’s Christmas plans can be found on the council website here.

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