With Aberdeen landmarks sprouting 10m octopus tentacles, fireflies buzzing around graveyards and a blazing Ship Of The Gods filling an aisle in the Mither Kirk, it can only mean Spectra is back.
And the return of Aberdeen’s festival of light promises to be a spectacular, fun-filled delight when it starts tomorrow, said Andy Brydon, director of Curated Place, which produces the event with the city council.
“Fun is very much at the heart of Spectra, getting people to play and enjoy the work we are bringing to the city and each other,” he said.
“We are not looking to turn it into a snooty elitist thing. There is nothing wrong with fun.”
Andy is delighted to see the free four-day festival is returning after a year’s absence.
“We are really happy to be bringing it back and with a commitment from the council for a five-year contract that will allow us to build on things,” he said.
The theme for this year’s Spectra takes its cue from VisitScotland’s Year of Coasts And Waters – something obvious from the festival’s most visible and eye-catching installation Creatures From The Deep, which will unleash sea creatures on iconic city buildings.
Andy said: “The inflatables from Designs In The Air are going to be framing the doorways and there are quite a number of installations between Marischal College and Marischal Square.
“They are 10m long octopus tentacles reaching out.
“We have sea anemones bursting out of the floor in Marischal Square and all kinds of things going on.”
Also on the maritime theme, an RSPB Dolphin Watch-inspired projection on to the One Tech Hub facade celebrates the biodiversity in our coastal waters.
Other attractions include Fire Flies by Mark Anderson in St Nicholas Kirkyard, with glowing orange lights that hum and fly in a chaotic dance.
Inside the kirk itself will be Ship Of The Gods, by Heinrich and Palmer.
Andy explained: “It’s an amazing work with 3D scans of old sailing ships that tell the story of the Norse gods’ battleship that could shrink down to fit in their pocket.
“It is a standout piece and really spectacular.
“We are also creating a brand new fireworks display that doesn’t involve any explosives or objects going in the air.
“It’s all done with lasers that people can control with giant LED light-up magic wands.
“We have a work that illustrates plastic pollution, with a plastic sea that’s going into Marischal Square.”
The festival will see many other artworks installed around city centre locations or projected on to buildings, many created by local artists and also art students, with the aim of “delighting and inspiring”, said Andy, who was reluctant to choose any personal favourites.
“I hate being asked that because then all the artists have a go at me,” he said.
“I like them all. I just like the festival as a whole because it allows us to bring things to the whole city centre and give a whole experience.
“But having said that, the tentacles and Ship Of The Gods are going to be spectacular pieces.”
There is more to the festival than just enjoying spectacular artwork, said Andy.
“It was originated to bring culture into the city in public spaces, not just traditional art spaces.
“But also, there was an ambition to fill that gap in February where after a long winter, things can feel a little bit depressing. Bringing light into the city is a great way to lift people’s spirits.
“But beyond that it is about driving tourists to the city, about giving Aberdeen an identity that puts itself on the map as a cultural destination and somewhere people can make as well as consume artwork.”
Andy said the best way to enjoy the festival is get out and discover it by making use of maps, stewards in the city centre and the festival’s website.
“Wrap up warm and bring along a fresh set of eyes to experience Aberdeen in a new way,” Andy added.
“Hopefully we will surprise people and give them the opportunity to appreciate the amazing place they live in.”
Spectra runs from Thursday to Sunday. For more information go to spectrafestival.co.uk