Get ready for SPECTRA 2023 folks! The multi-award-winning festival of light and sound is back! It will again bring colour and light to Aberdeen from Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th February. This year, organisers have selected an epic lineup of free-to-see installations from some of the best visual artists, studios, and companies from around the world. They’ll transform the city centre with light, sound, and jaw-dropping visual art.

The festival programme has some incredible new commissions that will illuminate iconic Aberdeen landmarks in the most stunning way possible! We’ve put together all the information you need to know about Scotland’s festival of light this year. Furthermore, we’ll keep this page updated as we approach the big weekend, so keep it bookmarked.


SPECTRA 2023 finds ‘Home’ at Union Terrace Gardens

SPECTRA is returning to Union Terrace Gardens for the first time since 2018 and will be one of the first major events to take place in the revamped historic public space. Expect a spectacular program of installations and artworks that will blow your mind. Inspired by the theme of ‘Home’, the festival will light up Aberdeen’s winter nights for everyone to enjoy.

Andy Brydon, Director of Curated Place said: “Spectra is always a winter highlight in Aberdeen, and we’re beyond thrilled to be announcing this programme for 2023. It’s packed with extraordinary work from some truly astounding artists and creatives.”

PULSE by This Is Loop – Manipulating scale and perception

One of the program’s highlights will be the first Scottish appearance of Fantastic Planet, created by the Australian group Parer Studio. It will feature towering humanoid figures descending upon different city-centre locations, including Union Terrace Gardens, Aberdeen Art Gallery, and Marischal College. These gargantuan visitors have travelled from afar to explore the city. At a time when the world’s resources are being depleted and the future seems uncertain, these visitors will playfully encourage you to imagine a better future for your own planet.

PULSE by This Is Loop

Broad Street

This is loop will transform Broad Street with Pulse, a 45-meter-long light sculpture created by the Bristol-based team This Is Loop. Pulse is a large-scale mirrored sculpture that manipulates scale and perception. The sculpture features 12 giant mirror-covered hoops arranged in a winding tunnel shape. It’ll create a contemplative space for visitors of all ages to enjoy day and night.

ILLUMAPHONIUM by Illumaphonium - Bringing people together
ILLUMAPHONIUM by Illumaphonium – Bringing people together

ILLUMAPHONIUM by Illumaphonium

Union Terrace Gardens

Get ready for a one-of-a-kind experience with Illumaphonium. This giant instrument is all about bringing people together for a fun and spontaneous outdoor music-making session. Packed with over 200 illuminated chime bars, so you can make beautiful sounds when you interact with it. A real feast for the eyes and ears!

THE WAXWING WANES by Illuminos

His Majesty’s Theatre

At His Majesty’s Theatre, you’ll find The Waxwing Wanes, created by the incredibly talented projection art specialists Illuminos. The lights react to a brand-new composition by the brilliant composer and harpist Ailie Robertson. And so the piece will take you on a journey, musing on our changing climate, as it follows the ebbs and flows of nature.

FANTASTIC PLANET by Parer Studio – Journeyed from faraway lands to SPECTRA 2023

FANTASTIC PLANET by Parer Studio

Across the City Centre

A radiant large-scale public installation, Fantastic Planet is crafted by the Australian artist Amanda Parer, the mastermind behind Parer Studio. It illuminates the night sky with its giant humanoids. These brilliant beings have journeyed from faraway lands and now grace us with their presence as they embark on a new adventure here in Aberdeen for the very first time.

NATURE NOCTURNAL by Lantern Company

Union Terrace Gardens

Lantern Company will transform Union Terrace Gardens by adding two stunning nature-inspired installations. Nature Nocturnal will bring the slopes of Union Terrace Gardens to life with mesmerising illuminated plants, insects, and wildlife. You can also take a magical lantern walk through a radiant kaleidoscope of colours. Experience the nocturnal natural world in a whole new way.

LUMINOSI TREES by Sound Intervention - Bringing an immersive and peaceful experience to SPECTRA 2023
LUMINOSI TREES by Sound Intervention – An immersive and peaceful experience

LUMINOSI TREES by Sound Intervention

Union Terrace Gardens

Sound Intervention’s Luminosi Trees, towering structures resembling giant jellyfish, will provide an immersive and peaceful experience in the centre of the Gardens. These six-meter-high structures are equipped with thousands of sound-responsive LEDs that change colours and patterns in response to a Fibonacci-inspired soundscape, ensuring a unique experience every time you visit.

FUSION YOUTH DANCE COMPANY

Across the City Centre

The SPECTRA 2023 program features live performances, including a premiere of a new outdoor piece by the Fusion Youth Dance Company of Aberdeen. Choreographed by Scottish dance artist Steven Martin, the performance will take place in the Marischal College Quad. It will also respond to the visually striking Fantastic Planet installation on display during the festival.

CIRCA by Limbic Cinema – Get ready to have your mind blown

CIRCA by Limbic Cinema

Union Terrace Gardens

Get ready to have your mind blown by Limbic Cinema’s Circa. This light sculpture is all about exploring our circadian rhythms and the beauty of light in different seasons. It’s a spectacular piece that the artists built around the seasonal light levels in Aberdeen. It features 12 light fixtures that represent the average light fall over one month of the year in the city.

Think of it as a 3D clock that reflects the light and dark cycles of the city, set to a mesmerising sound design by Joe Acheson of Hidden Orchestra.

HOME FRONTS by Vincent James

Union Terrace Gardens

Meanwhile, Visible Voices, an animated projection created by visual artist and animator Vincent James working with local young people, infuses everyday objects with a twist of the surreal and will appear in the archways by Union Terrace Gardens.

PROJECTOR BIKES by Sound Intervention – Touring the city for SPECTRA 2023

PROJECTOR BIKES by Sound Intervention

Across the City Centre

Sound Intervention will be bringing their Projector Bikes to different locations in the city. These electric trikes have been transformed into mobile cinemas and can travel around improvising and interacting with audiences. The bikes are off-grid and feature audio and visual projections of digital animations inspired by Aberdeen and the theme of ‘Home’.

NØKKEN by Illuminos

Marischal College

Illuminos created a new sculpture, Nøkken, for the front of Marischal College. The sculpture is based on the Kelpie, a shape-shifting freshwater spirit from the folklore of Scotland and the Nordics. Furthermore, the sculpture is meant to echo the perspective-shifting effect of the nearby Fantastic Planet artwork.

Pauline Cordiner - Old and new tales from Aberdeen and beyond for SPECTRA 2023
Pauline Cordiner – Old and new tales from Aberdeen and beyond

STORYTELLING with Pauline Cordiner & Lindsey Gibb

Storytelling Tent

Pauline Cordiner and Lindsey Gibb will host storytelling at Broad Street. They’ll tell stories in English, Scots, and Doric for all ages. Expect both old and new tales from Aberdeen and beyond, encouraging you to reflect on the concept of home.

ULTRA-VIOLET FACE PAINTING by Ulianka

Marischal Square

Finally, Ulianka is a world-renowned face painter known for her innovative designs. She’ll help you select the perfect design and create stunning UV light-activated artwork for your kids’ faces. And adults are also welcome to participate in the fun too!

FANTASTIC PLANET by Parer Studio - Embarking on a new adventure for SPECTRA 2023
FANTASTIC PLANET by Parer Studio – Embarking on a new adventure for SPECTRA 2023

SPECTRA 2023 – What you need to know

SPECTRA 2023 is a free light festival. It takes place over three days from 9-12 Feb 2023. It will be held at various venues across Aberdeen City Centre, including Broad Street, Union Terrace Gardens, Marischal College Quad and His Majesty’s Theatre.

Please visit the SPECTRA website and follow them on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for the very latest news.

SPECTRA 2023

Hooray!


About POST

Kevin Mitchell and Chris Sansbury founded POST. This was from a desire to cut through the noise to share the great things that happen in Aberdeen. They focus on community, culture and also the interesting people of the city. The local artists, businesses and charities; photographers, musicians and entertainers. These are the people that make a positive impact on our city every day. So they use video, audio, writing and social media to amplify the voices in our community. And to ultimately give a platform to Aberdeen folk to engage and tell their own stories.

Recent work includes coverage of Spectra 2022, interviews with We Are Here Scotland founder Ica Headlam; Paralympic gold medalist, Neil Fachie; Aberdeen rapper Chef and his push for success; an article by film director Mark Stirton about the state of high-rise buildings in the city; coverage of Nuart Aberdeen 2022 and TEDx Aberdeen, as well as coverage of British Art Show 9.