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Union Street Emergency Summit - Review and Feedback

We have spent the past few weeks since the summit, reviewing and collating the feedback and identifying the priorities for Aberdeen Inspired and partners to focus on in the coming months.

The input from attendees and the considered ideas and suggestions which came from the sessions have been invaluable in helping us map the next steps in setting out a plan to help rejuvenate Union Street. Our main focus will be the launch of an exciting new initiative to repopulate Union Street with businesses and people. This builds on the idea of a coalition with the sole remit to reverse Union Street’s fortunes, which was well received at the summit. We’ve been moving at considerable pace in discussions with stakeholders and will be able to unveil the details in the new year once all the pieces are in place.

Around 170 people attended the summit, generating a diverse range of idea and suggestions, several of which related to a general tidy up including removing weeds, repairing doorways and windows, cleaning the facades of buildings, repairing and cleaning pavements and sprucing up existing street furniture. Safety concerns were also high on the agenda, along with the need for more creative lighting. Aberdeen Inspired has already been in touch with partners to re-instate the City Centre Safety Partnership and will work with others on the cleanliness of Union Street and on supporting lighting projects that focus on significant buildings and dark areas of Union Street.

Read in full here.

Photo credit-, denisbin

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Tall Ship Races 2025 - Dates and route announced

The dates and the route for the Tall Ship Races in Aberdeen have been announced with ships docking in Aberdeen from Saturday 19 July - Tuesday 22 July 2025, following a 430 nautical mile trip from Dunkirk.

The 2025 route will see the vessels set out from Le Havre in France, travelling to Dunkirk, Aberdeen and finally Kristiansand in Norway.

When the Tall Ships event comes to Aberdeen with between 30 and 50 magnificent sailing vessels, spectators of half a million people from near and far are expected. They will be able to observe a crew parade down Union Street, visit a temporary nautical themed village, light show, parties and departure celebrations.

Adrian Watson, CEO of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “This announcement confirming the four European ports for Tall Ships 2025 makes it feel all the more real and Aberdeen is delighted to be in such illustrious company. Aberdeen Inspired is very proud to work alongside Aberdeen City Council, Port of Aberdeen and a host of other local, regional and national partners in planning for what has the potential to be one of the biggest events the city has seen in decades.”

Bob Sanguinetti, Chief Executive, Port of Aberdeen, said:“We look forward to working with Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeen Inspired and stakeholders from across the region to deliver an event that will benefit local communities, create wider economic prosperity, and engage a new generation of young people in the city’s rich maritime heritage."

Aberdeen City Council’s Culture Spokesperson, Councillor Martin Greig, said: “Sail Training International has proposed an exciting racecourse for the Tall Ships 2025 race. Their arrival will mark a four-day celebration of Aberdeen’s maritime heritage and the cultural, social and trading links between the city and the Port of Aberdeen and the North Sea. “The work starts now, and we will be developing plans with a number of city and regional stakeholders for the event so that Tall Ships Race 2025 is a memorable experience for the organisers, participants, visitors and the people of Aberdeen. ”Aberdeen previously hosted the hugely popular event in 1991 and 1997, therefor the excitement is building for this event with fond memories of previous Tall Ships in Aberdeen being talked about.

Photo credit-Port of Aberdeen

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Aberdeen Restaurant Week – Deadline for businesses to sign up extended

Aberdeen Restaurant Week (ARW) will return from Monday 16 to Sunday 29 January 2023 and we are calling upon more local businesses to get involved.

Brought to the city by Aberdeen Inspired, Aberdeen Restaurant Week is a fantastic opportunity for cafés, bars and restaurants in the city centre to benefit from additional sales during a quiet period, build loyalty, retain and recruit new customers.

Landing just after Christmas and in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis price will be a key driver of success. The marketing campaign will focus on promoting attractive value-based price offers geared towards generating sales at a traditionally quiet time of the year.

Serving up exclusive menus with three simple price points of £10, £15 and £25, food lovers will be able to enjoy a wide range of cuisines from dozens of local eateries offering unique, value for money menus will be put together exclusively for the fourteen-day promotion. What the menu consists of is entirely up to the restaurant and they can offer two courses, three courses, a tasting menu, include additional drinks or side dishes, the choice is theirs.

Interested in being part of Aberdeen Restaurant Week, the deadline to sign up and to submit menus is Wednesday 28 December.

Sign up and further information here.

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Aberdeen Gift Card- Issued to struggling households

Thousands of Aberdeen residents are currently being issued a gift card from Aberdeen City Council to help support them through the cost-of-living crisis and will also see millions of pounds spent with local businesses.

In June, the City Growth and Resources Committee agreed to allocate £1.9 million towards the scheme, which will benefit households in receipt of a Council Tax Reduction – over 14,000 in total. Residents in receipt of a council tax reduction will be eligible for the £125 card, which can be spent at nearly 300 Aberdeen shops, including food and clothing retailers. Those receiving them are being urged to ensure the cards are spent to their maximum value - not just to help them cope with the burden of rising bills, but also to inject millions of pounds into city businesses.

Aberdeen City Council is working alongside Aberdeen Inspired on the disbursement, who brought the gift card scheme to the city back in November 2020. Adrian Watson, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Inspired said: "We were delighted to bring the Aberdeen Gift Card scheme to the city in 2020 and this latest, much welcomed intervention by Aberdeen City Council will benefit many households in the city as well as providing a boost to local businesses at a time where it has never been needed more. "With a nearly £2million cash injection, there has never been a better time for more of our businesses to sign up to the Aberdeen Gift Card”.

Aberdeen’s Gift Card is one of the existing district gift cards that benefits from the Scotland Loves Local brand, as part of the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card introduced by Scotland's Town Partnership in 2021. Aberdeen has been a real trailblazer in recognising the benefits of local gift cards.

Using the Scotland Loves Local Aberdeen Gift Card in this way only enhances that, demonstrating that everyone wins when we choose local. The card is valid for one year after it is activated and will are currently being issued between December 7-16. Find out more on Aberdeen City Council's website here.


Public consultation on road changes to city centre

A six-month public consultation will begin in January with traffic changes coming into effect on Upperkirkgate / Schoolhill, Bridge Street, Market Street and Guild Street. The changes are being proposed to maintain access for all, remove unnecessary through traffic and increase space for pedestrians and wheeling.

The public will have a chance to lodge any objections during this period and if changes are made the clock will restart on the consultation. As Aberdeen City Council is leading on this, objections must be sent in writing to, stating the grounds on which the objection is being made.

Business seeking additional information should contact Vycki Ritson via email

More information and traffic map can be viewed here.

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Spectra to return in February to shine on Aberdeen

The Multi award-winning festival of light and sound Spectra will return to Aberdeen 9-12 February 2023 with a dazzling programme of interactive events and immersive installations which will light up major city centre locations and buildings, returning to the newly-refurbished Union Terrace Gardens after five years.

The festival is free to attend and family friendly, run by Aberdeen City Council and delivered by award-winning production company Curated Place.

The programme will feature work by leading visual companies and artists, including Fantastic Planet from Australian group Parer Studio, which will see towering illuminated humanoid figures appear around the city centre.

Audiences of all ages are encouraged to explore the city in the evening and marvel at it in a new light. The event will bring people from far and wide into Aberdeen bringing a boost to night-time economy, especially in hospitality venues who will be welcoming in attendees for drinks and food.

Further information on Spectra is available here, with the full programme being announced in the new year.

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Second 'Ceiling of Lights' installed

We are pleased to announce that the second installation of a Ceiling of Lights has been installed on Bon Accord Terrace which makes use of the existing fixtures installed for the popular umbrella installations in the summer. Shiprow had a Ceiling of Lights installed last month. Both installations have received welcoming feedback from the public and the businesses which sit below the lights.

The high-quality LED lights can be re-used over multiple years, and it is hoped the attractive Ceiling of Lights can become regular winter lighting installations in the city, creating a warm welcome and attracting pedestrians to the many established night-time hospitality venues in both areas.

Photo credit- Cafe Harmony

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BID networks meetings in January

The following BID network meetings are scheduled for January;

  • Belmont Street BID Network meeting on 10 January at 3pm
  • Merchant Quarter BID network meeting on 24 January at 3pm

Throughout the year, our Business Engagement Manager continues to support and develop a number of BID Networks -including West End/Uptown, Union Street, Merchant Quarter and Belmont Street /Culture Quarter Networks.

The BID Networks influence local policy and planning and help to generate ideas to improve city centre areas including place making projects and city centre marketing. At the meetings businesses will hear key project updates from Aberdeen Inspired, Aberdeen City Council, Police Scotland and other relevant partners.

Further information on the meetings can be found on our website here.

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Newly opened Resident X brings a street food hall and cocktail bar to Aberdeen

Just opened last weekend (17 December), Resident X covers two ground-floor units in Marischal Square bringing a whole new food and drink concept to Aberdeen.

With modern styling including a 'tunnel of light' and neon lighting throughout, there are areas to hang out, meet, eat and drink with a selection of independent street food and cocktails to choose from. When seeking vendors, Resident X tried to identify gaps in the Aberdeen food market. The current food vendors include Greek gyros, platters and salads by Acropolis, Baby Jewel serving Indian grub, Aderdam with the city's favourite smash burgers and Pluck serving flavourful chicken dishes.

Resident X is walk ins only, dog friendly and children are allowed until 8.30pm, food served until 10pm. Live events are also planned by the venue. Follow Resident X on their Facebook here.

AGC new sign ups

New business sign-ups to the Aberdeen Gift Card - Even more choice!

We would like to welcome the most recent business sign-ups to the Aberdeen Gift Card, adding to extensive list of nearly 300 businesses. New businesses that have signed up recently include:

  • Somebody Cares - A charity selling second-hand furniture, toys, clothing and household items at their Megastore at Hazlehead.
  • Siberia Bar & Hotel - An independent, modern bar and boutique hotel on Belmont Street.
  • McNastys – Traditional style pub located on Summer Street.
  • Shirlaws Ltd - A family run motorcycle dealership located on Wellington Circle.
  • Suma Café - A brand new family owned cafe located on Guild Street opposite Union Square, serving delicious food including a mouthwatering brunch menu, waffles and an ice cream counter.
  • Aberdeen Academy of Performing Arts - Located on Jopp’s Lane, Aberdeen’s biggest performing art school offering dance, singing, acting, gymnastics and musical theatre from ages 18 months to adulthood.
  • Aberdeen Art Centre - Located on King Street- an inclusive, community focused arts venue with stage performances and a creative learning programme.

Sign your business up to the Aberdeen Gift Card Scheme

The Aberdeen Gift Card is delivering a much-needed boost directly back into local economy. Funded by Aberdeen Inspired, the scheme is free to join and does not cost your business or the consumer anything, it’s simply another payment method for the goods, services or products your business sells.

Gifting the card is simple. You can go to the Bon Accord Centre information desk or online here with the option of an e-card being sent straight to the recipient.

Want to join the free scheme? Click here.

Check out our full list of businesses that accept the gift card here.

We would also remind all businesses that accept the card to ensure all staff are familiar with how to take payment using a gift card as we head into the busy Christmas period. We know many of you recruit seasonal staff so make sure they are briefed to how to process the card. If you need training or support materials get in touch or read our merchants payment guide here.

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Treat your team with an Aberdeen Gift Card

This festive season give the perfect gift to your staff with the Aberdeen Gift Card. Starting at just £10 it is the perfect little thank you that gives them a world of choice in their pocket!

Accepted by nearly 300 local businesses, including national brands such as M&S, Next and Waterstones as well as independent local businesses like Hamish Munro, No.10 and Annie Mo’s the gift card gives so much choice on what and where to spend it. Please get behind our ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses by investing in the Aberdeen Gift Card and help lock-in spend in our city centre.

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Buy instantly and offer a world of buying options!

Our super popular digital (e-cards) can be purchased online at and can be sent to the recipient’s phone by either text or email. Physical cards can still be bought at the Bon Accord Centre Aberdeen information desk which open until Christmas Eve 9am-4pm.

Whether it’s great shopping, fantastic food, a spot of pampering or excellent entertainment, with nearly 300 businesses already signed up, there is really something for everyone with the Aberdeen Gift Card! View all participating businesses here>

If you received a gift card for Christmas last year, it's time to spend it soon! Valid for 12 months from the date of purchase, your card may be expiring soon. If you are a customer with a card who has been unable to use it within their 12-month validity period, you can contact the gift card provider by emailing to receive a one off 3-month validity extension.

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A Year in Review - Key projects and events delivered by Aberdeen Inspired in 2022

With the end of 2022 now in sight it is time to reflect on Aberdeen Inspired's achievements through a recap of the key projects and events we brought to Aberdeen, helping to promote and attract people to the city.


The much-loved foodie event Aberdeen Restaurant Week took place with 35 Aberdeen hospitality venues serving up delicious cuisine and exclusive menus with set price points. The next Aberdeen Restaurant Week is only weeks away, view details here.


The spring brought about the start of the Seagull Project between April-June. Aberdeen Inspired jointly funded a seagull nest and egg removal project with Aberdeen City council, designed to encourage these birds to leave the city centre and migrate back to the coastal areas of the city. Conducted under license from Nature Scotland, every effort is made to ensure that activity is humane as well as effective. The project will resume again in 2023, prior to the hatching season and will continue during this BID term.

The globally acclaimed and much-loved street art festival Nuart Aberdeen returned in June after a three-year hiatus and lived up to its promise to reconnect people, when thousands flocked to the city centre to take in the street art and join the festival fun!

Following the festival we developed a interactive map which sits on our website and shows all the Nuart Aberdeen works from across the years. The tool allows you to explore the works and plot your own route allowing you to explore the art at your own pace. Build your own map tour here.

During the Nuart Festival, we ran a weekend of Inspired Nights x Nuart Aberdeen which featured craft and market stalls, local bands, entertainment, DJs, pop-up street food and drinks, plus creative spaces for children and adults on Broad Street.

June also saw the partnering with the ADHD Foundation to create colourful umbrella installations in the city centre for the ADHD Foundation Aberdeen Umbrella Project.

Featuring multi-coloured umbrellas suspended across city centre streets, the displays aim was to raise awareness of and to celebrate the ‘umbrella’ term of neurodiversity, including ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyspraxia.

Local school children were invited to get involved in the main installations, to sign and decorate the umbrellas. The umbrella installations looked fantastic and brightened our city centre streets on Shiprow and Bon Accord Terrace as well as conveying messages about ADHD and autism and raising awareness of the support that is available to individuals and families. Businesses throughout Aberdeen also got involved, displaying their own colourful umbrellas provided by us.


The final installations of the illuminated LED suspended signage was completed in August. Visible in twelve locations across the city centre. The aim of the project is to highlight some of the city’s most renowned streets offering clearly identified civic gateways, key streets and strategic connection points to help make Aberdeen a leading pedestrian friendly city. The signs were designed to add interest to and enhance how some parts of the city centre are experienced and improve wayfinding both of which are key aims of the City Centre Masterplan. The installations were made possible due to funding secured by Aberdeen Inspired from the Scottish Government Town Centre Fund in 2019 specifically for the design and install of new signs to encourage pedestrian movement within the city centre. Read more here.


Aberdeen Inspired started working with Alzheimer’s Scotland and city centre shopping centres to create a Dementia Friendly City Centre, with a safer environment for those shoppers experiencing dementia. Staff training and awareness raising are among the activities being undertaken as part of this initiative.


The biggest Aberdeen International Comedy Festival to date came to town, with a 11 days of comedy totalling 43 shows across 20 city centre venues performed by over 60 comedians.

With a record breaking 15 sell out shows the festival attracted an audience of just over 7000 people. There was something for everyone in this year's star-studded line-up. Headliners included the legendary Irish funny man David O’Doherty, dead pan master of satire Jack Dee, Netflix sensation Daniel Sloss, newly single Hal Cruttenden, Britain’s Got Talent winner Daliso Chaponda and the glorious fast, funny, and absurd Milton Jones.

The comedy line up continues in the new year with one off festival nights taking place at the Music Hall in both February and March featuring Sara Pascoe and Jon Richardson.

Urban Green Spaces were created using external funding from the Placed Based Initiative. Six large wooden planters and associated trees and greenery have been installed on the south side of Justice Mill Lane, between Holburn Street and Hardgate. This extends the previous green parklet style installations already installed on Holburn and Huntly Street, again using an external funding source. The feedback on these initiatives has been extremely supportive with both nearby businesses and the public and has been delivered at no cost to our levy payers. We are working hard to ensure more of these spaces spring up through the course of 2023.


We were proud to sponsor and attend the Society Awards which celebrates the businesses and individuals who are constantly pushing boundaries and striving to make the north-east an exciting and vibrant place to be.

November 9th saw over 170 participants attend our Union Street Emergency Summit in association with Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce’s Vanguard initiative at the city’s Douglas Hotel.

Expert speakers and invited panellists talked candidly about the challenges facing the city’s main thoroughfare and explored with the businesses who depend upon it potential short and medium-term solutions to improve its fortunes. The feedback and review is now complete with priorities identified for Aberdeen Inspired and partners to focus on in the coming months, read the details here.

Two glittering Ceiling of Lights were installed between November and December on Shiprow and Bon Accord Terrace. The high-quality LED lights can be re-used over multiple years, and it is hoped the attractive Ceilings of Light can become regular winter lighting installations in the city, creating a warm welcome and attracting pedestrians to the many established night-time hospitality venues in both areas.

And finally, November saw the LACER funding of £1.94 million worth of Aberdeen Gift Cards delivered to thousands of Aberdeen residents from Aberdeen City Council to help support them through the cost-of-living crisis. Aberdeen Inspired were instrumental in applying for this funding and developing the delivery mechanisms for the scheme. This money will be spend by the recipients at more than 300 bricks and mortar businesses in Aberdeen and will help with the economic recovery of the city centre.


We had the return of our popular Curated in the Quad Market within Marischal College Quadrangle. For five weekends, a unique stallholder line up was in place with gifts options including arts, crafts, clothing, jewellery and homeware along with gourmet food and drink. The market attracts thousands of visitors and shoppers to the city centre. We are also delighted to be a partner as part of the wider Christmas Village offering which runs to 31 December 2022.

Free night buses, operated by Stagecoach Bluebird, ran for three weekends up to Christmas. Funded by Aberdeen Inspired and Aberdeen City Council more than 2,200 passengers rode the buses for free to ensure a safe and smooth return home after a night out in Aberdeen city centre. Extremely popular the provision of this service also helped to ease the congestion at taxi ranks, particularly during the cold spell of weather and helped to support Aberdeen's night-time economy and hospitality.

Throughout the year, we hosted thirteen BID Network Meetings for levy paying businesses where they heard key city centre updates. Please view the dates of the future meetings here.

We also secured the prestigious Purple Flag accreditation for the ninth year in a row. Led by us, with support from Aberdeen City Council, Police Scotland, Unight, Street Pastors and other key stakeholders, Aberdeen has achieved the coveted standard in recognition of its commitment to promoting a safe and secure night-time economy. Purple flag initiatives includes night buses, city centre triage in partnership with the NHS, safe space bus in partnership with Street Pastors and Naloxone Training for city centre staff.

'A Christmas Wish'

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

A message from Adrian Watson, CEO at Aberdeen Inspired.

These continue to be challenging times for many of our businesses in the city centre but there is ample evidence of great resilience, entrepreneurship and that ‘can do’ spirit across the sectors. As we head towards 2023, we will, more than ever, need to work together in getting behind the heart of our city if we are to attract the numbers back in that will build on our economic vibrancy.

We encourage all our current levy payers to get in touch with my team and I on any matter you feel we can help you with. Bar the public holidays, we remain open throughout the festive period.

I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas and a Happy New Year from myself and my team at Aberdeen Inspired.

Watch our 'Christmas Wish' video above or here.

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