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Spectra 2024: All you need to know as Aberdeen’s festival of light returns for a tenth year

The award-winning festival will be back in the Granite City between February 8-11.

Spectra festival of light.
Spectra will return to Aberdeen for the tenth time next month with an array of stunning light installations. Image: Paul Glendell/DC Thomson.

Aberdeen’s much-loved festival of light, Spectra, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2024.

The free family-friendly event has been brightening up the winter nights in Aberdeen for the past decade with a showcase of artistic talent.

The upcoming programme will celebrate the theme of “connections” with an eye-catching array of free artworks and installations for visitors of all ages – including a large-scale 3D projection that will take over the sculpture court at Aberdeen Art Gallery.

From the must-visit locations across Aberdeen city centre, to which artists are taking part, here is all you need to know about Spectra 2024.

What is Spectra?

Spectra is a popular urban light festival that will bring four days of family-friendly fun to the north-east.

When will Spectra 2024 take place?

Spectra will return to Aberdeen between Thursday, February 8 and Sunday, February 11 this year.

Spin me a Yarn installation by Studio Vertigo
Spin me a Yarn. A giant ball of wool will be part of the amazing lightshow coming to Aberdeen. Image: Spectra.

What will be on show at Spectra 2024 in Aberdeen?

Festival favourites Heinrich & Palmer will return to the city with a spectacular new light, sound and film projection charting the maritime story of Aberdeen.

The 3D piece will become a part of Aberdeen Art Gallery’s permanent collection.

The gallery’s Remembrance Hall will feature Butterfly Dream, a luminous installation by artist Anne Bennett.

A flight of hand-cast and neon-flecked butterflies will individually sway above the heads of the audience in the hall, reflecting the fragility and gentle power of ecosystems threatened by human interventions.

Studio Vertigo, the collaborative project of artists Lucy McDonnell and Stephen Newby, have designed Spin Me A Yarn – an oversized ball of radiant wool with a long trail of yarn that invites audiences to follow its path in Union Terrace Gardens.

Their second piece, Our Beating Heart, has been described as a sight to behold and will feature a giant mirror ball-style rotating heart to bring dancing dapples of light to the streets of Schoolhill.

Our Beating Heart by Studio Vertigo.
Our Beating Heart by Studio Vertigo will be on show in Aberdeen. Image: Spectra.

Art installations across city centre

Edinburgh-based artist Flora Litchfield, also know as Flolux, has created a soundscape of light and voice called Lightstream which will be installed in the courtyard of Marischal College.

Meanwhile, Broad Street will be transformed by a geometric matrix of mirrored and luminescent sonic monoliths in Continuum by illumaphonium.

In Union Terrace Gardens, you will find Amigo & Amigo’s Affinity which has been inspired by the brain and features 70 different colour combinations, 60 points of interactivity and original music by Otis Studios.

Visitors will be able to fully immerse themselves in Squidsoup’s walkthrough experience – Submergence – which will be brought to life with real and virtual components in the city centre gardens.

Affinity by Amigo and Amigo.
Affinity, one of the exhibits at Spectra to be held in Aberdeen. Image: Spectra.

Special 10th anniversary commission

A leading light of the north-east’s year-round cultural calendar, Spectra is delivered by Aberdeen City Council and created in collaboration with local company Live Event Management.

The programme will feature a number of returning favourites, including neon face painting at Marischal Square by local artist Ulianka.

Local artist Craig Barrowman will lead Northern Lights – a special commission featuring north-east artists to mark the 10th year of the festival.

Audiences will be able to interact will the artwork which has been inspired by the likes of River Don and Dee wildlife, the hidden voices of working women and the industrial impact on the Aberdeenshire coastline.

Spectra at Union Terrace Gardens in 2023
Aberdeen’s light festival Spectra in February 2023. Image: Paul Glendell/DC Thomson.

Spectra regular Pauline Cordiner will also welcome audiences to Cowdray Hall with storytelling for all ages in English, Scots, and Doric.

Empty shop units on Schoolhill and Upperkirkgate will be filled with artwork from local S5/S6 pupils and college students.

The workshops will be run by photographer David Gilliver and explore the possibilities of light painting and photography.

More information about Spectra 2024 can be found here.

Gallery: Hundreds flock to city centre for Aberdeen’s Spectra