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Aberdeen Letters to spell out city's pull for tourists

Much anticipated plans for landmark giant letters which spell out ABERDEEN have been submitted to planners for approval, with the installation hoped to be in place this spring.

The proposal was drawn up by city business leaders aiming to become a tourist attraction and help encourage visitors to the city centre, as well as positively promoting the city, far and wide, on social media platforms such as Instagram.

Many other cities around the globe have a similar focal point, including the iconic Amsterdam letters and Toronto’s famous coloured sign in Nathan Phillips Square.

The Aberdeen Letters project has been developed from an idea that emerged through Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce’s Vanguard initiative, to encourage creative suggestions for the future of the region.

The project is being funded and led by city centre BID Aberdeen Inspired, which will manage the letters, VisitAberdeenshire and Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

Local design and fabrication firm, Luxous Group, has been appointed to design and manufacture the letters and believes their design will take the letters concept to the next level with lighting which can be designed and changed to celebrate annual events and holidays.

The letters will initially be located at the historic Castlegate with the iconic Union Street Granite Mile as its backdrop but have been designed to be a detachable and movable attraction for the city.

In time it is hoped that the letters become a must-have feature to welcome visitors and delegates to conferences, festivals, graduations and other events and feature in iconic city locations.

Other locations will follow if planning consent is granted by Aberdeen City Council.

Adrian Watson, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “The Aberdeen Letters project aims to create a tourist attraction that will drive both visitors and local people into the city centre, encouraging them to visit the letters to take photos as a souvenir or a selfie for their social media channels then spend time in the shops, bars, restaurants and take in a show or exhibition.

“Many cities around the world already have similar schemes and they have become a ‘must-do’ for visitors but we hope that different animations being displayed from the letters, as well as being moveable, takes the concept a step further and will ensure the letters remain a unique focal point for that perfect Instagram picture.

“They will also broaden Aberdeen's offering and enhance the city centre as a destination for cruise passengers and national and international tourists, including those visiting for the European Pipe Band Championships and the Tall Ships, as well as more local visitors who are proud to show off their city.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to support the regeneration of Union Street, we are keen to do all we can to encourage footfall and create reasons to visit the city centre and we are excited to see the letters at their first home, the Castlegate.”

Subject to planning permission, it is hoped the letters will be launched in the next few weeks.

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Record breaking numbers attend Spectra, Scotland's Festival of Light

A “record-breaking” number of visitors attended this year’s SPECTRA, Scotland’s Festival of Light in Aberdeen’s city centre, with many thousands of people lining the streets to enjoy colourful projections, light installations and jaw-dropping sculptures.

Visitors enjoyed a programme of new and visiting artworks inspired by the theme of home, while business also reported a bumper weekend, with huge footfall.

Among the highlights were the first appearance of Parer Studio’s Fantastic Planet, in which towering humanoid figures popped up in city centre locations, including Union Terrace Gardens, Aberdeen Art Gallery and the quadrangle at Marischal College.

Special offers and late openings were run by businesses in the area to capitalise on the crowds while First Bus also put on special offers to encourage families to use public transport for the event.

Feedback gathered by Aberdeen Inspired was overwhelmingly positive, with city centre businesses reporting additional footfall.

SPECTRA is a joint venture by Aberdeen City Council and arts company Curated Place to give emerging and established artists a platform for their work.

Adrian Watson, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said SPECTRA presents a great opportunity for businesses to capitalise on the big crowds.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic, the crowds have been phenomenal coming in their thousands producing a great atmosphere,” he said. “The businesses in the city centre have really benefited, the crowds have flocked in and they’ve benefited through the till.”

Mr Watson said SPECTRA is one of many opportunities to drive footfall in the city centre, particularly during the dark and cold months.

He said: “The challenges to the High Street are well documented, so we must take every opportunity to benefit off the back of Spectra and other events. People have been enjoying that wider hospitality and retail offering and it’s really good news for us.”

SPECTRA is just one of many planned major events for Aberdeen over the coming year, which it is hoped will lead to continued success in bringing business back to the city centre.

Jazz fest

Let jazz put a spring in your step

With warmer weather and brighter days ahead, the organisers of the Aberdeen Jazz Festival are hoping the 10-day music festival will help to put a spring in your step. Now in its 20th year, the popular event returns to venues across Aberdeen from 16-26 March and will deliver a celebration of all things jazz, with performances ranging from smooth to raucous, trail-blazing to traditional.

Jazz Scotland’s CEO Coralie Usmani has hailed this year’s festival line-up the most diverse yet. Programme highlights include a poignant duo between celebrated Aberdeen drummer Sebastian Rochford and pianist Kit Downes as well as Mercury nominated Fergus McCreadie in duet with Matt Carmichael. These performances sit alongside Martin Kershaw’s critically acclaimed octet and Dutch violinist Tim Kilphuis’ jazz-tinged re-imagining of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

The venues are equally engaging, with festival goers having the opportunity to sample jazz in venues ranging from Resident X, one of Aberdeen’s newest offerings at Marischal Square, to the historical surroundings of the Society of Advocates Library.

The festival will once again host site-specific performances at Bon Accord Baths with the venue’s cathedral-like space delivering a remarkable experience for those lucky enough to attend the Soundbath sessions, where they will be treated to two specially commissioned short performances by Juliette Lemoine and Helena Kay.

For more information and festival line-up click here.

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Council's events plan will help bring visitors to Aberdeen

Earlier this month, Aberdeen City Council’s Finance and Resources Committee agreed a 365 Events Plan which will help to encourage visitors to both the city and region and continue to put the area on the cultural map.

The plan is designed to ensure a year-round events calendar, with new venues, to increase the number and scale of events in Aberdeen.

The recent success of SPECTRA, Scotland’s Festival of Light emphasised the huge power that a top-class event can have in bringing visitors in their thousands to the city to enjoy Aberdeen’s cultural offering and attractions.

In the run up to SPECTRA, proposals were already in place to continue that momentum into the future.

The council’s City Growth service will work with partners such as Aberdeen Inspired to explore new events opportunities at a local, regional, national and international level.

Council Co-Leader Councillor Ian Yuill said: “As well as contributing to Aberdeen’s vibrancy and providing entertainment for people from Aberdeen and the north-east, these events bring people to the city and boost tourist numbers.

“We welcome the continued focus and continued collaboration of all the organisations which work extremely hard to bring events to our area for everyone to enjoy.”

It also proposed larger events bringing higher cultural, economic, and social impact to the city, such as the European Pipe Band Championships event this year and the Tall Ships Race which will come to Aberdeen in 2025.

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Good Housekeeping names Aberdeenshire best place to visit 2023

We love it already but now Aberdeenshire has been recognised as an “underrated” gem by Good Housekeeping, who named it one of their top holiday destinations for 2023 beating out holiday hotspots such as Aruba and the Swiss Alps!

The article, by Hearst UK travel editor Roshina Jowaheer, highlighted the natural beauty of the north-east as one of the main reasons it remains a favourite of the Royal Family.

From glorious coastline packed with wildlife to majestic mountains and dramatic rivers that rival those of Canada, they called Aberdeenshire “a playground for nature-lovers".

Good Housekeeping is one of the most popular women’s magazines in the UK with a readership of more than 400,000, many of whom are exactly the type of visitor who will love the holiday experiences on offer here in the north-east.

We look forward to welcoming visitors from near and far in 2023!

To read the full article, click here.

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Port of Aberdeen cruise update meeting

Come to Port of Aberdeen's visitor centre on Tuesday 7 March 2-4pm to find out about the 2023 cruise calls and plans for activity in and around the port.

Cruise Aberdeenshire partners Port of Aberdeen and Visit Aberdeenshire will provide an overview of the 2023 cruise calls and the plans to support activity in and around the port and wider destination. Reserve your free spot here.

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Application submitted for renewal of Purple Flag accreditation

On behalf of its city centre partners, Aberdeen Inspired has submitted a comprehensive application to the Association of Town Centre Management for renewal of Aberdeen’s Purple Flag accreditation for 2023.

Aberdeen was the first Scottish city to achieve this distinction and success this year would mean the Purple Flag being awarded for an unprecedented 10 years in a row.

This prestigious award recognises a safe and vibrant city centre, both during the day and in the evening and night-time. It is used by prospective visitors and those looking for a safe place to send their children to study.

The application will culminate in an inspection of the city centre over the weekend of March 10-11.

As the city centre BID, we are calling on all levy paying businesses to support the application and show Aberdeen city centre is more than worthy of such important recognition for another year.


Setting the wheels in motion for Aberdeen Rapid Transit    - Invitation to online business briefing session

Aberdeen Rapid Transit (ART) is a flagship project for a next-generation transport system. It aims to establish the North East of Scotland as a healthier, more attractive and economically vibrant place in which to live, work, study and visit. The concept is being developed by Nestrans and its partners Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, and the North East Bus Alliance.  

ART would provide a much-improved public transport service for Aberdeen and the surrounding area through a cross-city network of ART priority routes. ​ Councillor John Crawley, chair of Nestrans said, “If funding becomes available, we aim for ART to be implemented over the next five to ten years. Right now, we want to understand more about employers’ needs and aspirations for transport. So, we are inviting Aberdeen Inspired members to a business briefing session to find out more, with the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. This will ensure they have the chance to influence the proposals for ART as they develop.”

The business briefing session will be held virtually on Tuesday, 7th March 2023. There will be two sessions; at 12.30 to 13.30 and 17.30 to 18.30 to offer participants a choice of time. The briefing will take the form of a presentation, followed by a question-and-answer session. To register and specify your preferred session, please visit or email, by Friday 3rd March 2023.  Following this, a calendar appointment will be issued with more information. 

If you are unable to attend and would like to provide your views, please either complete ART’s short survey at or email

For more information about the vision for ART and to view map click here.

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Energy saving tips from Business Energy Scotland for SMEs

Business Energy Scotland has published a summary of new energy saving resources which give advice and support to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to help control some of their energy costs and their net zero credentials.

This year, we have seen temperatures plummet over the winter months and the summary includes a number of handy low or no-cost tips to help reduce costs while heating your workplace. It also provides information on Business Energy Scotland’s new solar PV (photovoltaics) fast track assessment service for Scottish SMEs.

There are also details of how to access free training in March for people interested in becoming their organisation’s Green Champion.

The winter energy saving tips which can help your business stay warm for less range from checking your draft proofing on roof lights, windows and doors, only heating areas you use – encouraging hot desking can help with this – and installing heat reflectors. For more information visit

Many businesses in Scotland already benefit from solar PV, generating their own electricity and enjoying reduced energy costs, minimised energy supply risks and lower carbon emissions. Visit to find out more about the fast-track assessment service.

With rising energy costs, the climate emergency and increasing consumer pressure continuing to challenge the way businesses across Scotland manage their environmental performance, Business Energy Scotland’s free online training session on March 22 will provide a range of advice and tips on how to green your company. Find out more at

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Aberdeen Art Gallery introduces Relaxed Mondays to welcome all visitors

Aberdeen Art Gallery has teamed up with charity “We Too!” to deliver Relaxed Monday sessions.

The sessions are primarily for families with neurodivergent children, neurodivergent young people and adults, adults living with dementia, adults and children with mental health challenges, and any visitors with sensory needs, or who may prefer a more relaxed experience along with their families, friends and carers.

The sessions will include access guides, visual stories, sensory dens and sensory kits for visitors, with staff being trained in ‘sensory first aid’.

The Gallery will not be accepting bookings for large group visits on that day to keep the environment as relaxed as possible and friendly staff will be on hand to give a warm welcome, answer any questions and help everyone to make the most of their visit.

Some sensory backpacks will also be available to borrow to help enhance a visit – these include dark glasses, ear defenders and fidget toys. There will also be a sensory den set up in a quiet space for visitors who may need it.

The relaxed Monday sessions are underway now. More information here.

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Celebrate Aberdeen paraders of 2022 invited to bid for £1,100 funding pot

Organisations which took part in last year’s Celebrate Aberdeen Parade through the city centre are being invited to bid for a £1,100 donation to support their work.

The funds come from the collecting buckets carried by volunteers during the parade. In the years since it started, thousands of pounds have been raised from the generosity of members of the public.

One hundred percent of the donations have been used to support projects, run by parading organisations, which benefit the people of Aberdeen City and Shire.

Around 120 organisations and more than 4,000 people took part in the 2022 Celebrate Aberdeen Parade.

Participating organisations that would like to be considered are asked to apply by Friday, April 28, explaining why they would like to receive the money and highlighting any specific projects which the fund would support. From the applications, one cause will be chosen to receive the £1,100.

Before its return in 2022, the parade was last held in 2019 with Home-Start Aberdeen chosen as the recipient of the Celebrate Aberdeen Parade Collection Fund.

“These donations, which go to a very worthy charity every year, are possible only thanks to the generosity of the members of the public who fill our collecting buckets during the parade down Union Street,” said Celebrate Aberdeen board member Hayley Barr.

“It really is a case of every donation, large or small, making a difference because they all mount up to provide much welcome support for one of the parading organisations.

“With so many participants who do such outstanding work which benefits thousands of people across the north-east, it’s always very difficult to choose just one recipient. We know however that whoever is chosen will use the donation to make a real difference to people who need additional support at this time.”

For further information, or to apply, contact Morven Mackenzie by emailing

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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.

Want to join the free scheme? Click here.

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Buy instantly and offer a world of buying options!

Our super popular digital (e-cards) can be purchased online here 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.

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, spend it soon! Valid for 12 months from the date of purchase. 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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