Scotland’s biggest urban light festival set to illuminate Aberdeen for fourth year

A giant interactive cloud, flaming metal sculptures, glowing spiders taking over a historic graveyard and Marischal College transformed into a huge musical instrument complete with laser light show - these are just some of the attractions for visitors to SPECTRA when it opens in Aberdeen next month (February).

From hug-powered illuminations, face-projection on to giant talking heads and a constantly evolving artwork created by visitors themselves, this year’s festival of light promises to be truly interactive, inspiring and innovative.

The festival will also feature BAFTA award-winning artist Seb Lee-Delisle who is bringing his Laser Light Synths to Marischal College.

The touch-activated light installation will dazzle visitors with thousands of LEDs. As visitors play the custom-made synths, powerful lasers project animated visuals that respond to the music to cover the entire college with shimmering dancing lights.

Organised by Aberdeen City Council in partnership with Curated Place, SPECTRA invites audiences to engage with playful, accessible and high quality performances, spaces and works of art using light, sound and interactive experiences.

The four-day light extravaganza will start on Thursday 9 February and many of the installations will reflect the theme ‘A New Light’, celebrating the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Aberdeen City Council Deputy Leader Councillor Marie Boulton said: “SPECTRA 2017 will be an exciting family event, which will bring light in the depths of winter.

“Now in its fourth year, the festival highlights Aberdeen as an area of light and creativity and as a city of rich history, heritage and culture. Year on year we have seen new innovations, the festival is constantly evolving, and this year is no exception with the introduction of the live music stage in collaboration with True North.

“Aberdeen is undergoing great transformation right now, with significant development linked to our City Centre Masterplan, and those physical changes are central to our ambitions for the future. Providing events that bring these spaces, new and old, to life is vitally important and SPECTRA is a wonderful example of that in action.”

Union Terrace Gardens will host 13 installations including the eagerly anticipated CLOUD by Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett, Wave Garden a new installation featuring kinetic wave sculptures, and Forget Me Not, produced by Aberdeen Performing Arts Artist in Residence Sara Stroud.

The historic St Nicholas Kirk graveyard trees will be illuminated by art collective RaumZeitPiraten who will bring their ‘ElektroMistel’ as a nod to the Gaelic myth of the all healing plant – while from underneath the twinkling lights will crawl Les Araignees; giant stick spiders that will take over the graveyard in homage to Robert the Bruce.

New for 2017, the St Nicholas Centre Roof Top Garden will be a hive of activity with SPECTRA Commissions artists STACK Collective and Gray’s School of Art Tutor and Aberdeen-based International light artist Jim Buckley will be displaying their work.

Also on the rooftop, a brand new live music stage produced by True North Festival in collaboration with Aberdeen Performing Arts, will see local bands and performers entertain the crowds.

Art and culture hub Seventeen will host a series of workshops including Illuminating Geometry where SPECTRA Artist in Residence Jenny Dockett will lead participants to create LED lanterns.

Seventeen will also host an exhibition of participants work from the Secret Cities Aberdeen, Cityscapes and Archive workshop and Photoshop Masterclass.

SPECTRA 2017 is supported through Aberdeen City Council’s Cultural Programme, with a contribution of £256,000 as main funders of the light festival.

Andy Brydon, Director of Curated Place said: “Our continued work with Aberdeen City Council to develop and deliver SPECTRA has allowed us to push the festival into new territory for 2017.

“With the support of the Council, Creative Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Aberdeen Inspired and VisitScotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology we want to shine a new light on the city centre’s rich heritage alongside welcoming some of the best artists working with light, sound and technology to the North-East.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “We are fortunate to have the most fascinating and inspiring history and heritage on our doorsteps, bringing the spirit of Scotland alive.

“The SPECTRA light spectacular showcases Aberdeen as a contemporary city of design and technology with a strong cultural heritage and is a fitting event to help celebrate the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.”

For more information visit www.spectraaberdeen.com