Goodbye cold, dark Granite City… hello Aberdeen, city of glorious light.
Spectra is back and it more than delivers on its promise to create a spectacular treat for everyone to enjoy.
Transforming the city centre into a playground of fun, colour, light and sound, it also brings a sense of wonder.
Most visible is, of course, the Creatures Of The Deep installation. It’s hard not to miss the 10-metre tentacles rearing out of the Art Gallery and Marischal Square with sea anemones bursting out of Broad Street pavement. The Designs In Air installation really does put a smile on your face at the playful creativity involved, riffing on the festival of light’s theme of Scotland’s Coasts and Waters.
Still on the having fun theme, one of the most popular installations is bound to be the Rainbow Laser Flares, by Seb Lee-Delisle, where visitors can send projected fireworks shooting up the walls of Marischal College.
Just across the way in a vacant unit in 1 Marischal Square is the thought-provoking Plastic Sea, a work by Viannis Kranidiotis, where plastic sheeting in a scaffold frame mimics waves.
It moves faster when you touch a screen that illustrates where the worst plastic pollution can be found in our oceans.
The hub of this year’s Spectra is at St Nicholas Kirk. In the kirkyard, artist Mark Anderson has created a haunting and spectacular light and soundscape. Fireflies dance among graves like lost souls, feathers of light vibrate and hum like dervishes, ghostly voices come from the tombs, while a bright, beeping night-flying hunter whirls around the perimeter. Cool and compelling.
Inside the kirk itself, Heinrich and Palmer have worked magic. The Ship Of The Gods, based on a Norse myth, is a constantly changing 3D scan of old sailing ships, shifting, moving, the light changing. It is hypnotic.
So, too, is Aerial, as ethereal birds drift across a screen before it closes closer and closer on to a feather, down to an almost microscopic level.
Outside again and you’ll find the otherworldly Eloa of the Digital Forest, Steve Symons’ offering of light tubes that flicker and moan.
These were just a few of the displays on offer during a sneak preview last night.
Once the festival starts properly it will transform the heart of Aberdeen into a huge gallery of delights. Go and discover it for yourself.
It runs from 6.30pm to 10pm until Sunday. Details at spectrafestival.co.uk
Join us for an exclusive walking tour of the festival, from the 13–16 of February.