Spectra Aberdeen: Everything you need to know about Scotland’s Festival of Light

Spectra, Scotland's Festival of Light, has celebrated its tenth anniversary with more than 100,000 visits.

Spectra returned to Aberdeen in February, celebrating its ten year anniversary and lighting up the Granite City's cold winter nights.

Scotland's Festival of Light brightened up the night skies in February with more than 100,000 visitors enjoying installations across the city centre.

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For 2024, the event celebrated the theme of connection with art from creatives such as Edinburgh-based light artist Flora Litchfield.

Running from February 8th until February 11th, the 2024 edition of Spectra Aberdeen earned a 4-star review from The Scotsman.

What is Spectra?

Beginning as a small pilot festival in 2014, Spectra has been transforming Aberdeen’s dark winter nights with eye-catching projections, interactive displays and breathtaking installations.

There were more than 100,000 visits to festival sites around Aberdeen in 2024, despite poor weather forcing organisers to close the event early one evening.

Spectra Aberdeen in Union Terrace Gardens. Image: Ian Georgeson PhotographySpectra Aberdeen in Union Terrace Gardens. Image: Ian Georgeson Photography
Spectra Aberdeen in Union Terrace Gardens. Image: Ian Georgeson Photography

Martin Greig, the Aberdeen City Council culture spokesman, said: “Spectra, Scotland’s Festival of Light, has had another successful year with thousands of visitors turning out during the event to enjoy the illuminating artwork on display across the city centre. Even when the weather turned, the crowds were still there with smiles on their faces."

Spectra Aberdeen 2024 installations

Installations for Spectra Aberdeen 2024 made their home across the city centre, from Marischal College to Union Terrace Gardens.

Here are all of the displays which could be seen during Spectra's ten year anniversary.

Heinrich & Palmer

Winds of Change by Henrich & Palmer. Image: Ian GeorgesonWinds of Change by Henrich & Palmer. Image: Ian Georgeson
Winds of Change by Henrich & Palmer. Image: Ian Georgeson

Charting the maritime history of Aberdeen, festival favourites Heinrich & Palmer returned to Spectra with a large-scale 3D projection taking over the Sculpture Court of Aberdeen Art Gallery . If you missed out on seeing Spectra, this exhibition is now part of the gallery’s permanent collection following the festival.

Butterfly Dream by Anne Bennett

A Spectra display inside Aberdeen Art Gallery. Image: Ian GeorgesonA Spectra display inside Aberdeen Art Gallery. Image: Ian Georgeson
A Spectra display inside Aberdeen Art Gallery. Image: Ian Georgeson
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Also in Aberdeen Art Gallery was Butterfly Dream by Anne Bennett, which featured a flight of hand-cast and neon-flecked butterflies in the Remembrance Hall.

Continuum by Illumaphonium

Visitors enjoying Spectra 2024. Image: Ian Georgeson PhotographyVisitors enjoying Spectra 2024. Image: Ian Georgeson Photography
Visitors enjoying Spectra 2024. Image: Ian Georgeson Photography

Illumaphonium took over Broad Street with Continuum; a geometric matrix of mirrored and luminescent sonic monoliths.

Affinity by Amigo & Amigo

Amigo & Amigo's display at Spectra. Image: Ian GeorgesonAmigo & Amigo's display at Spectra. Image: Ian Georgeson
Amigo & Amigo's display at Spectra. Image: Ian Georgeson

One of the installations at Union Terrace Gardens (UTG) was Affinity by Amigo & Amigo. The sculpture became more immersive as people interact with the display.

Submergence by Squidsoup

Another Union Terrace Gardens Spectra display. Image: Ian Georgeson PhotographyAnother Union Terrace Gardens Spectra display. Image: Ian Georgeson Photography
Another Union Terrace Gardens Spectra display. Image: Ian Georgeson Photography

Submergence by arts collective Squidsoup was also in UTG, which saw visitors immerse themselves in a linear 12-minute performance.

Spin Me A Yarn by Studio Vertigo

Spin Me a Yarn at Spectra Aberdeen. Image: Ian Georgeson PhotographySpin Me a Yarn at Spectra Aberdeen. Image: Ian Georgeson Photography
Spin Me a Yarn at Spectra Aberdeen. Image: Ian Georgeson Photography

Studio Vertigo, the collaborative project of artists Lucy McDonnell and Stephen Newby, created two of the installations which made up Spectra’s 2024 programme. The first, Spin Me A Yarn, was in Union Terrace Gardens.

Our Beating Heart by Studio Vertigo

Studio Vertigo's second Spectra display. Image: Ian Georgeson PhotographyStudio Vertigo's second Spectra display. Image: Ian Georgeson Photography
Studio Vertigo's second Spectra display. Image: Ian Georgeson Photography

The second display by Studio Vertigo was Our Beating Heart, a giant mirror ball-style heart in Schoolhill.

Lightstream by Flora Litchfield

Lightstream by Flora Lichtfield. Image: Ian Georgeson PhotographyLightstream by Flora Lichtfield. Image: Ian Georgeson Photography
Lightstream by Flora Lichtfield. Image: Ian Georgeson Photography

Inside Marischal College's courtyard was Lightstream, an instalment by Edinburgh-based light artist Flora Litchfield.

Northern Lights programme

As part of the festival's ten year anniversary, a selection of ten specially commissioned augmented reality artworks by emerging north-east artists were on show, projected on the side of St Nicholas Kirk.

A new display by Double Take lit up the side of His Majesty's Theatre, overlooking Union Terrace Gardens.

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