SPECTRA 2020: Aberdeen’s Festival of Light

Bright Lights in the Big City

This year’s SPECTRA theme is inspired by Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters. Considering I am a literal mermaid, this was so far up my street. We were invited along to the press night for a bonnie behind the scenes look at what makes this festival so special. After a long day of meetings and networking, my eyeballs were literally bricks, I was exhausted. I also had the mother of all headaches. And it was 1 degree outside. So really, the odds were against me. I had spent the whole day talking my face off. My jaw hurt. My face hurt from people-pleasing. Because life is exhausting, right? And at this time of year, most of us just want to get home, get cosy and switch off from everything. Which is actually, half the problem.


Whether it’s Seasonal Affective Disorder I suffer from or just plain “I can’t be bothered” syndrome, the dark nights get to me. I both love them and absolutely despise them. And little did I know that SPECTRA held a magic cure. At this time of year, with so many of us blocking ourselves in after work, not going out, not moving, not getting those endorphins going, or being social, we can quite easily build walls around ourselves. Walls lead to isolation, despair and in the worst cases, depression and anxiety.

I am an advocate for mental health and how important it is. After years of suffering from depression and rip-roaring anxiety, I need to keep myself on an even keel to make sure I don’t dip back into a dark place. And although I have been lucky enough to mostly come out the other side, I have had to learn to push myself out of my comfort zone. 9 out of 10 times, my efforts have been rewarded.

SPECTRA Festival of Light

The mesmerising light installations sprinkled all over Aberdeen City are the perfect distraction. For 2 hours, I lost myself. I found myself in a whole other world. Most importantly, I forget just about everything. Well, everything that weighed on me. Because it seems that 2 hours of magnificent sea creatures, lit ships in churches and sending flares up the front of Marischal College, will do that to a gal.

The festival runs from the 13th to the 16th of February, is completely free and features interactive sculptures, projections and mini-movies, all set against an almost haunting soundtrack. For more information, or to plan your own SPECTRA experience, see here.

Warning: SPECTRA will lift your spirits.



The Chief.