The accident happened on the A96 between Huntly and Keith when a Nissan X-Trail crashed with a white Fiat Minibus.
Three passengers in the Nissan, a male aged 63, two women aged 69 and 70 all died.
The 39-year-old female driver of that car is in critical condition at Aberdeen Royal.
It is understood that all of those in the car were local to the area.
The Minibus involved in the incident was carrying Italian tourists.
A child and a woman died at the scene while another woman has life-threatening injuries.
Huntly Roads Policing Superintendent Louise Blakelock has issued the below statement: “Emergency services were made aware of a two vehicle collision on the A96 between Keith and Huntly shortly before midnight last night.
“It is with deep regret that I can confirm that three adult passengers – two women aged 69 and 70 and a 63-year-old man - who were travelling within an orange Nissan X-Trail all sadly died from their injuries. The 39-year-old female driver sustained serious injuries and is being treated at Dr Grays. Everyone in this car was local to this area.
“A white Fiat Talento mini-bus which had been carrying Italian tourists was also involved in the collision.
“Tragically two people who were passengers within this vehicle - a woman and a four-year-old boy - have also died. The male driver, a male passenger, female passenger and a three-year-old boy, who were also within the mini-bus, were taken to hospital with a variety of injuries.
“The woman is considered to be in a critical condition and is being treated at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. The little boy sustained minor injuries and is being well cared for.
“The dreadful scene faced by the emergency responders from Police, Fire and Ambulance and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency was both distressing and extremely challenging for everyone involved.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who made valiant attempts to save the casualties lives - their efforts cannot be underestimated.
“I would also like to thank members of the public who came upon this terrible incident, who phoned the emergency services and provided first aid and comfort.
“Every loss of life on our roads is a tragedy however when so many are killed in one incident the impact on their families, their friends and our entire community is massive.
“Our thoughts are with everyone who has been involved or affected.
“An investigation is ongoing into the exact circumstances so it would wrong for me to speculate further at this time and I am unable to answer questions regarding details of what may have happened.
“I would however ask anyone who was in the area last night and saw either vehicle involved in the lead-up to this incident to please contact the Police on 101.
“Likewise, if you have dashcam footage that may assist please get in touch with us.”
Police Scotland said the minibus was carrying a group of Italian tourists and did not know the relationship between the Italian tourists involved in the incident.
Those driving in the Nissan were all local to the area and had been out at a social occasion.
Local MSP Richard Lochhead tweeted: “So sorry to hear about such an awful tragedy locally. “My thoughts are with everyone affected and thanks to emergency services. “Community will be shocked by this sad news.” A section of the A96 has been closed with local diversions in place.