Jul 082016
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Cargo small

Checking the cargo before making tracks for Spirit of Speyside: Distilled are Steve and Ros Rhodes of the Keith and Dufftown Railway.

Tickets are about to go on sale for a brand new drinks festival that unites, for the very first time, Speyside’s famous whiskies with the region’s award-winning brewers, gin makers and food producers.
Spirit of Speyside: Distilled, from the world-renowned Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, will bring together an array of great flavours through drinks, food and masterclasses contained within one weekend and at one venue.

The ticketed event takes place for the first time at Elgin Town Hall from September 9-11.

Entry to each session will be limited and demand for tickets, which will go on sale at 9am on Friday, July 15, is expected to be strong.

While whisky is the region’s most famous export, Spirit of Speyside: Distilled brings together new partners to champion the area’s food and drink, and masterclasses will offer some very special experiences to sign up for.

There will be the chance to try some very special whiskies, gins and beers; learn about pairing whisky with food; join a mini-mixology session using botanical gins and liqueurs or enjoy cocktail making demonstrations.

As visitors browse round, they’ll meet Speyside’s drinks industry stars, people passionate about their products, including experienced distillery staff and brewers who will talk through their ranges and offer samples.

Having sampled, visitors will be able to purchase their favorite bottles to take home through a retail shop organised by specialist outlet The Whisky Shop Dufftown. And there’s plenty more to explore in the home of malt whisky with over 50 distilleries nearby.

The experience will be different to that delivered by the five-day Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival which offers over 500 different events at venues across Speyside in the first weekend of May. Organisers believe the smaller, centrally located event will appeal to those who want to enjoy and learn more about Speyside’s whiskies, gins and beers but don’t want to plan an itinerary to attend a larger event at many different venues.

Pery Zakeri, festival manager, says,

“If you could serve up Speyside in a glass then Distilled has to be as close as it comes.

“We hope to attract a new, younger audience because Distilled will have a broader appeal and will offer a unique chance to see whisky companies side by side in their home region.

“Speyside is regarded as the malt whisky capital of the world but whatever your drink of choice, come and have your eyes opened to just how many different producers there are here. Grab your friends, book your tickets and head to Elgin for a great weekend.”

Spirit of Speyside: Distilled’s main sponsor is Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers. Highlands & Islands Enterprise has helped to get the event off the ground.

Warehouse cases smallRepresenting Speyside whisky will be The Glenlivet, Aberlour, Benromach, Cardhu, Cragganmore, Glen Moray, Gordon & Macphail, Glen Grant, Glenfiddich, The Macallan, Strathisla, Murray McDavid, The Balvenie, Speyburn and Tomintoul.

Gin makers Caorunn, Gordon Castle and El:Gin and fruit infused gin company Berry Good will be there along with local craft beer companies Windswept Brewing, Spey Valley Brewery and Speyside Craft Brewery.

Tempting bites will be showcased by Speyside’s top companies, including Walkers Shortbread Ltd, Baxters, Associated Seafoods, Ashers Bakers, Macleans Highland Bakery, Cairngorm Leaf and Bean, Berry Good, Iain Burnett Highland Chocolatier, Balvenie St Ice Cream and Aunt Marie’s Kitchen.

Tickets will go on sale at 9am on Friday 15th July priced £20.

The ticket price includes entry, a lanyard, vouchers for five 10ml tasting samples of gin or whisky, a voucher for a tasting measure of a beer, a Glencairn crystal nosing and tasting glass and a light snack, featuring the best of local produce, prepared by event caterers, Good Highland Food.

There are four different sessions over the course of the weekend and these take place on September 9 from 7-11pm; September 10 from 1-5pm and 7-11pm and on September 11 from 12-4pm.

There are limited places for masterclasses, full details of which are available on the Spirit of Speyside: Distilled website – www.distilled.scot – where tickets can also be bought. Distilled is active on social media at www.facebook.com/distilledscot on Twitter and Instagram @distilledscot and Google+.

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Jun 302016
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

mark beaumont2

Record breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont with David Pitt of Wildfox Events. Credit © EdSmith.

Record-breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont is gearing up to promote the benefits of cycling at the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale and the Royal Deeside Family Cycling Festival.

The long-distance cyclist, who is known for completing an 18,000 mile round-the-world cycling challenge and who has tested the 100 mile route of the Etape Royale on a Penny Farthing, is supporting the
Festival.

The Royal Deeside Family Cycling Festival is the latest addition to an exciting summer of events for the Ballater area.

It takes places from 16 -18 September to complement the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale – one of Scotland’s most scenic and challenging closed route cycle sportives, starting and finishing in Ballater which aims to promote the benefits of cycling to people of all ages.

The 100-mile circular route of the Quliter Cheviot Etape Royale takes participants on a traffic-free journey through historic Royal Deeside and Aberdeenshire, Moray’s Whisky Country, and back along the banks of the picturesque River Dee, allowing cyclists to take in the breathtaking scenery present throughout the region. For those who don’t feel quite up to the full distance, there are also 45 and 65 mile routes available.

A series of family-friendly events and activities are on offer over the course of the weekend, such as a mountain bike skills circuit and a bike roadshow featuring weird, wonderful and wacky bikes from the past and the present. Those participating in Etape Royale are being encouraged to bring their families along to enjoy the festivities and the rest of what Ballater has to offer.

Many local businesses are getting involved by organising activities for the weekend of the Festival. Both Cycle Highlands and The Bike Station will be offering bike rental and providing mechanical support to cyclists. Whilst the cafes in Ballater are extending their opening hours and will also be transformed into European street-style cafes, enabling customers to enjoy their food and drinks outside.

David Wright of Aberdeenshire Council, says,

“The whole of Ballater is looking forward to welcoming cyclists and their families to this year’s Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale and the Royal Deeside Family Cycling Festival.

“Mark Beaumont is such a well-known name in the world of cycling and we’re confident that he will do a brilliant job in encouraging more people to take an interest in cycling, either as a hobby or as an alternative method of transport.

“The entire weekend will be a celebration of all things cycling and there are plenty of activities for all the family to get involved in. For those who aren’t interested in bikes, there will be a farmer’s market on the Saturday, a climbing wall, and zorbing. A ceilidh has also been organised to welcome visitors to the area at the Victoria & Albert Halls on the evening of Saturday 17 September.

“The weekend will help to highlight the excellent selection of cycling routes available in Ballater and Royal Deeside. The entire area is a cyclist’s dream, as there are scenic roads and recreational routes, plus plenty of mountain ranges for the adrenaline seekers to enjoy.”

Richard Watts, owner of Cycle Highland and chairman of Ballater Business Association, says,

“The Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale and the Royal Deeside Cycling Festival combines cycling and family fun into one weekend. Family members of the participants will be able cheer them on as start and finish Etape Royale in Ballater. Whilst the cyclists are away, visitors to the Festival can enjoy the wide range of activities, food and music events on offer.

“It’s very inspiring to see local businesses getting behind the Festival by organising events which will enhance the overall experience for both visitors and residents of Ballater. This is the first year that the Royal Deeside Family Cycling Festival is being held and the whole community is getting involved, so the atmosphere in the village over the weekend is certainly not to be missed.”

The Royal Deeside Family Cycling Festival takes place from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 September in Ballater. Supported by EventScotland and official charity sponsor Marie Curie, the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale gets underway on Sunday 18 September, the cycle sportive covers 100-miles and an ascent of 2,996m. For more information, visit: www.etaperoyale.com

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Jun 302016
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

BVW Panto Horse TrialsResidents of a Deeside community are being called on to have sandbags at the ready – for a fun stunt designed to put a smile on faces as it prepares for its annual summer extravaganza.

Hundreds of sandbags were filled and put to use to try and defend Ballater from Storm Frank and the deluge it brought to the Deeside area in December last year.

Now with the floods firmly behind them, organisers of Ballater Victoria Week have come up with a tongue-in-cheek competition which they hope will raise a few smiles.

They are appealing to villagers to decorate leftover sandbags and share photos of their creations on social media.

As well as injecting a bit of humour, the novel competition points to how the community has galvanised and moved on following the flooding. The most liked picture on Facebook will be judged winner of best decorated sandbag – earning its owner £50.

“Just for fun we are inviting people to decorate a sandbag,” said Ade Scipps of the Ballater Victoria Week committee.

“There’s bound to be a few spare ones knocking around and they could be turned into a favourite character, use it to plant flowers, or whatever people like. We just want to cheer the village up and give people something to chuckle about as they go about their day. It’s a smaller scale creative competition which complements our scarecrow trail, which sees a weird and wonderful array of life-size scarecrows popping up in locations around Ballater.”

Ballater Victoria Week takes place from August 5-14 with its biggest programme to date.

As well as established favourites, like the vehicle parade and Sunday fayre, duck race, scarecrow trail, pantomime horse trials, ghost tours, films, quizzes, sports and music there are a few new events are in the offing too, like a Rio 2016 Onesie Party when villagers are encouraged to get into party mode by gathering together to watch the opening ceremony on a big screen in the V&A Halls and the ‘Weel Kirkit’ heritage walks led by a professional story teller.

Over the years Victoria Week has raised thousands of pounds for local causes and continually seeks to renew and refresh itself by reflecting current trends and initiatives.

It offers another chance for the community of Ballater to celebrate and enjoy some fun after the floods gave the area the most challenging start to the year.

DSCN2916With its close connections to Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family’s summer home, Ballater pulled out all the stops to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday earlier in June when hundreds of people of all aged gathered for the Happy Birthday Ma’am street party.

Organisers of Ballater Victoria Week hope to see the same show of community spirit with another well-earned opportunity for villagers to have fun and let their hair down. The annual party week has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 1987 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession, raising thousands of pounds for local charities along the way.

Among the highlights of the 10 day extravaganza is Ballater Highland Games which takes place on Thursday, August 11 and includes sports, hill race, Highland dancing and much more.

With Ballater Victoria Week enjoyed by both local residents and visitors alike, Richard Watts, chair of the Ballater Business Association is pleased to see it develop and grow in 2016.

“The resilience and determination to get over the floods has been quite remarkable and everyone is keen to get over the message that Ballater is back on its feet and is very much open for business,” says Mr Watts.

“Organisers of Ballater Victoria Week work really hard to put together an action-packed programme with events to appeal to people of all ages. Locals and visitors alike will be welcome to join in the fun and there will be plenty of cheer and chuckles along the way.”

Balmoral Castle remains a favourite summer retreat for the Royal Family, and Ballater is often referred to as the ‘Royal Warrant Town’, due to the large number of businesses that hold the prestigious mark of recognition to those who supply goods or services to the Households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales.

For more information about Ballater Victoria Week visit the website http://www.ballatervictoriaweek.co.uk/

BVA is also active on social media at http://www.ballatervictoriaweek.co.uk/

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Jun 032016
 

AIYF 81 - Credit Graeme MacDonald featJulia Heys,Marketing Executive,VisitAberdeenshire.

Leading festivals from across Aberdeen are to come together to cross-programme an entertainment marquee at the Aberdeen Highland Games later this month [Sunday Jun 19].

For the second year running, Aberdeen Festivals, a group of 10 multi-arts festivals, will deliver a line-up of art, science, workshops and live entertainment at the Highland Games, held annually at Hazlehead Park.

Spectra, Aberdeen Jazz Festival, Look Again, May Festival, Aberdeen International Youth Festival (AIYF), TechFest, North East Open Studios, TrueNorth, DanceLive and sound, will all present activities, performances or workshops as part of the main programme.

Steve Harris, Chair of Aberdeen Festivals and CEO of VisitAberdeenshire, commented:

“Last year, our presence at the Highland Games was a huge success. We saw upwards of 2,000 people make their way through the tent, with adults and children having a great time alike. This year we have another exciting programme packed full of entertainment and we look forward to welcoming visitors to the Aberdeen Festivals marquee.”

Sponsored by leading energy firm Statoil UK, Aberdeen Festivals is a revolutionary cultural initiative bringing together 10 member festivals. The group, set up in early 2014, works to raise the profile of festivals in the North-east as well as grow audiences through joined up marketing campaigns.

The Aberdeen Festivals Entertainment Marquee will open at 10am and run until 4.30pm. Highlights include art exhibitions from Look Again and North East Open Studios, hands-on children’s activities from Techfest and May Festival as well as live performances from True North and AIYF.

Sarah Chew, Managing Director of TechFest, added;

“Over the past two years our involvement with the Aberdeen Festivals project has seen us not only increase awareness but also significantly boost our audience levels. Working together at events like the Aberdeen Highland Games lets us showcase the truly unique and diverse offering of all the festivals in Aberdeen.”

The Aberdeen Highland Games will take place on Sunday 19 June from 10am-5.30pm at Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen.

Aberdeen Festivals is a cultural initiative sponsored by Statoil and is supported by VisitAberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Council. More information can be found at aberdeenfestivals.com.

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May 162016
 

xerath richard taken by dave reedWith thanks to Mark Chalmers.

RAM It Down Festival began as a grass-roots effort in 2015, organized by volunteers, inspired by established events down south, with the belief that Aberdeen should not miss out on touring bands visiting the city.

The first year was a success and around 160 metalheads descended on The Garage Aberdeen to indulge in their favourite pastime.

Festival organizer, Mark Chalmers remarks,

“The response to RAM It Down Festival has been overwhelmingly positive. Many people in the Aberdeen area are really passionate about their favourite style of music – heavy metal. We even have a number of private donors, who have donated large sums of money because they want to see this type of event in Aberdeen.”

The festival has been extended this year to include an extra and 60% more bands on the line-up, featuring artists from as far away as Sweden.

Paul Nazarkadeh, guitarist of London-based De Profundis commented on their upcoming slot on the festival,

“De Profundis have played all over the UK in our decade long existence, but never have we come so far north as the Granite City.”

The main driving purpose of RAM It Down Festival is to bring touring bands to Aberdeen and put them alongside local bands.

Festival organizer, Mark describes,

“One of the reason’s I decided to organise RAM It Down Festival is because I personally got fed up of people talking-down Aberdeen. I believed that people could do something about the things they are dissatisfied about, rather than simply complaining. I wanted more touring bands to come to Aberdeen, so this was my attempt to provide a solution.”

winter in eden taken by Corina AndrianOne of the heaviest bands on the line-up are Saturday main stage headliner, Winterfylleth. Based in Manchester, Winterfylleth have experienced international success and played many of the major festivals across Europe and extensive coverage in music magazines, such as Kerrang and Terrorizer.

A spokesperson for the band commented,

“It’s great to be invited to play RAM It Down Festival and bring our music to one of the furthest north cities in the UK and to play to fans who might not have a chance to see the band otherwise. See you on show day.”

There is a wide range rock and metal sub-genres represented on the line-up, varying from classic rock-inspired bands, such as The Amorettes and King Witch, as well as extremely heavy bands, such as Winterfylleth and Cambion. Most bands however fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, so there should be something to please most rock and metal fans.

Date: Friday 20th and Saturday 21st May,
Bands from 6pm (Friday) and 5pm (Saturday).

Venue: The Garage, 17 Windmill Brae, Aberdeen

Tickets available online via Skiddle, or in-person at Seratique, 20 Belmont Street, Aberdeen
2-Day Ticket: £15,

Friday Ticket: £6 advance (£7 on the door), Saturday Ticket: £10 advance (£12 on the door)

Friday Lineup (1 stage): Cambion, Risen Prophecy, Sanctrum, Neshiima, Orynthia.

Saturday Lineup (2 stages): Winterfylleth, De Profundis, Red Rum, Ramage Inc, Zombie Militia, Cleanse The Hive, The Amorettes, King Witch, Rats of Reality, Drencher, Frelsi

Pics courtesy of Dave Reed and Corina Andrian.

May 052016
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

SOSWF Whisky Galore 4 SmallThe final drams have been sipped at the 2015 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – but organisers are already preparing to do it all over again. The curtain came down on over 500 events on Monday ( 2nd May) and now the team behind the world famous Festival are putting plans in place for a second event in the early autumn.

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival took place over five days in the heart of Scotland’s best loved whisky producing region, drawing thousands of visitors from home and abroad for a programme combining the country’s national drink with music, food and fun.

New records were set when tickets went on sale for the Festival’s biggest ever programme earlier in the year. Festival chairman James Campbell says this year’s gathering in whisky’s spiritual home was one of the best on record.

He commented,

“It will take us a little bit of time to find out what the overall numbers were, but the area was extremely busy for the full five days and, most importantly, everyone I saw and spoke to had nothing but great things to say.

“To see people at these events thoroughly enjoying themselves makes worthwhile all the planning and hard work of our volunteer directors, of the Festival manager and of all the other people who give up their own time to ensure the Festival is a success. Knowing visitors will leave the area with very special memories is hugely rewarding for all of us.

“I personally met visitors from over a dozen different countries – some who have been coming for years and others who were visiting for the first time – and it was really special to see all these visitors having such a great time side by side with local people.

“I think visitors are always surprised by the huge range of different events, and the fact that they can have access to the people who are involved in the very heart of our whisky industry. I don’t think any other whisky festival in the world can offer what we can.”

All eyes are now on Spirit of Speyside – Distilled, which will take place in Elgin Town Hall on September 9 to 11. It will bring together Speyside’s whisky producers under one roof on their own doorstep for the very first time.

The event will also include local gin and craft beer, along with a wide range of food producers, showing off the huge extent of Speyside’s larder. Spirit of Speyside – Distilled will be split into four sessions over the three days, with tickets being sold for each session.

It is hoped that the event will initially attract a more local audience, but in time Spirit of Speyside – Distilled will also become a destination for the many international visitors who attend the main event in May.

James adds,

”The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has grown to become a phenomenal event, but we felt that it was time to add a second event which did not require visitors to undertake a great deal of itinerary planning.

“We chose Elgin for the location because it is the transport hub for the area, with excellent rail and road links. People can come for one session or the whole weekend, but still enjoy the spirit – and welcome – for which Speyside is famous.”

Tickets for Spirit of Speyside – Distilled will go on sale within the next couple of weeks via the website www.spiritofspeyside.com. The Festival is also active on social media – facebook.com/WhiskyFestival and @spirit_speyside on Twitter and on Instagram.

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Apr 012016
 

Speyside farmers launch bid to produce beef to rival world famous Kobe beef from Japan. With thanks to Eoin Smith, Tricker PR.

Monday 28th March 2016, Aberdeen, Scotland, SOSWF urging cattle farmers to follow the lead of Japanese producers of Kobe beef, but instead of drinking beer, Speyside cattle will be fed draff from distilleries, drink whisky, and will have traditional Scottish music played to them. Pictured: Ann Miller, Spirit of Speyside Whiskey Festival. (Photo: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)

One of the Aberdeen Angus herd cannot wait to get his daily dram from Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival director Ann Miller.

Farmers on Speyside are being urged to lead a fight back for the Scotch whisky industry after a Japanese malt was named best in the world – by feeding their cattle a daily dram.

A nip of our national drink – coupled with a diet of high quality feed from distillery by-products – could produce meat so succulent and tender that it will rival Japan’s famous Kobe beef.

And it is thought that playing cattle upbeat traditional Scots music, in much the same way that Kobe herds enjoy classical sounds, will further enhance the quality of the beef.

Now there are calls from organisers of the world renowned Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival for local farmers to help further trial the theory.

Thousands of visitors from all over the globe visit the annual Festival, and organisers are concerned about the level of attention being focused on Japanese whisky.

Ann Miller, a director of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, says,

“We do not believe there is anywhere on earth that produces better malt whisky than Speyside – and millions of whisky drinkers agree.

“We were genuinely shocked and dismayed when Yamazaki was named the best whisky in the world, but we are firm believers in the old adage of don’t get mad, get even.

“And that is exactly what we intend to do. All the signs indicate that introducing Speyside malt into a cow’s diet and using animal feed created from distillery by-products gives the meat a lovely, whisky-tinged flavour.”

The incredible discovery was made by Speyside farmers Ali Rolfop and Joe King, who have a herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle.

They were mucking out a byre one evening on their farm, Ure Gullybale, near the distillery town of Keith and poured a bottle of single malt Scotch into a water trough.

Ali explains,

“I’m a big fan of two of Speyside’s most famous products – malt whisky and traditional music – and so I decided to share these with our cattle.

“The next day, we noticed their coats were shiny and their eyes were bright. We’ve since been sharing a bottle of malt with them and we even have some local fiddlers come down to perform. We tasted the beef from the herd for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it is sensational – there is definitely a hint of whisky in the meat.”

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival takes place from April 28 to May 2 and is one of the biggest events of its kind anywhere in the world. It comprises almost 500 different events, from distillery tours to whisky tastings, from ceilidhs to comedy nights, and from whisky themed dinners to outdoor events.

Ann adds,

“With all this focus on Japan, I suppose we are a little worried that the thousands of visitors who fly in from all corners of the globe to enjoy our Festival might be tempted to go there instead.

“But while Japan may have been able to produce some decent drams, it doesn’t have the history and heritage of Scotch whisky. We’ve been producing the best whisky in the world for generations – no beef about it – and while they have learned how to make whisky from us, we’re now learning from their farming techniques.”

Tickets for all events in the 2016 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival programme are available to buy now at www.spiritofspeyside.com The Festival is also active on social media – facebook.com/WhiskyFestival and @spirit_speyside on Twitter and on Instagram.

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Mar 242016
 

Inside_the_Bon_Accord_centre_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1241608featWith thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

The sound of jazz will emanate from a city centre roof garden this weekend as an exciting programme of events gets underway.

Bon Accord & St Nicholas will host a number of performances for Jazz On The Green – part of the Aberdeen Jazz Festival running from March 16 to 20 – at the greenspace near the St Nicholas centre.

A range of jazz acts will perform in the bandstand in the roof garden on Sunday March 20, uniting the city centre in a celebration of jazz, blues, funk, soul, R & B, swing, bop, vocals and big band, with free admission for all.

Work on improved seating, lighting, flower provision and a brand new children’s play area was completed last year to breathe new life into the greenspace – and it is hoped it will become a popular destination within the city centre.

Plans are in place for an Easter Egg hunt within the roof garden and events will continue throughout spring and summer.

Craig Stevenson, manager of Bon Accord & St Nicholas, said:

“We are delighted to be playing a part in the Aberdeen Jazz Festival, which is always a fantastic and lively event. This will be a great chance for the public to come along to the enhanced roof garden and see how it has been transformed in the past year. The bandstand within the roof garden is a great performance area and event space and I am sure the talented jazz performers will draw the crowds in.

“A lot of hard work went into transforming the area and we want it to be a space for the people of Aberdeen to enjoy. We are looking forward to finalising a wide range of exciting events throughout spring and summer and welcoming people to the garden throughout the months to come.”

Bon Accord & St Nicholas are at the heart of Aberdeen city centre’s retail sector, offering 840,000 sq ft of prime space and home to around 100 stores. Scotland’s largest Next, Aberdeen’s only Topshop and Topman standalone store as well as the City’s largest New Look and River Island are among the key retailers.

The centres, which attract an average of 275,000 visitors a week, are owned by BMO Real Estate Partners and managed by specialist retail agency Savills. For further information on the centres visit www.bonaccordandstnicholas.com

Picture Credit: “Inside the Bon Accord centre – geograph.org.uk – 1241608” by Stanley Howe. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons 

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Feb 042016
 
SOSWF Whisky Galore 4 Small

You’ll find whisky galore here….X marks the spot for the nation’s treasure.

With thanks to Account Director, Tricker PR

New ticket sales record set as Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival events go on sale to whisky-loving public

Ticket sales for the 2016 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival have set new records, with over 2,700 tickets valued at almost £75,000 being bought within the first hour of their launch this week.

Just 10 minutes after the website went live on Tuesday (February 2) transactions reached the same level that took an hour to achieve in 2015, while the same amount of sales in an hour took 24 hours on last year’s opening day.

Over 60 events in the packed programme taking place in whisky’s spiritual home from April 28 to May 2 have already sold out, and many more have limited availability. The events attracts thousands of visitors to Speyside to raise a glass to Scotland’s national drink.

Visitors from the UK, Europe and North America have been the driving force behind the sales, with whisky lovers from as far afield as Bahrain, Australia, Japan and India also snapping up tickets on the opening day.

Festival manager Pery Zakeri says the phenomenal demand has taken everyone surprise, and there seems no sign of sales slowing down.

She adds,

“We have had ticket sales from a total of 22 different countries and in the first 24 hours of going live we had reached a sales value of over £91,000. 

“I think this just goes to show how eagerly anticipated the Festival is this year. We have garnered a fantastic reputation for putting on a world class event, and people are making sure they get in early to get tickets for the activities they really want.

“As with previous years, the exclusive distillery tours have sold out first. The real whisky aficionados are always looking for very special experiences that are only available at the time of the Festival, so tours of distilleries not normally open to the public, such as Strathmill and Dalmunach, were snapped up within minutes.

“However, with 467 different events on the programme from whisky tasting and blending experiences and from heritage walks to traditional ceilidhs, there are still plenty of tickets available.

“The beauty of the Spirit of Speyside Festival is that it is small enough to be incredibly friendly and welcoming, but big enough so that there is something for everyone. But we’d urge anyone thinking about coming to book their events soon as tickets are selling very quickly indeed.”

The Festival is taking part in Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, and many of the events are focused on the theme. There will be the chance to enjoy drams against the background of stunning architecture, and visitors will learn about the innovation born in the region which is home to the world’s best-loved whiskies.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, says,

“The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is always a massively popular event with visitors from around the world and we are delighted to see so many people eager to take advantage of the opportunity to sample this unique aspect of Scotland’s history and culture in 2016.

“Much more than simply whisky tasting, the Festival celebrates Scotland’s national drink with an exciting and innovative programme of events, and we’re confident that the hugely encouraging sales over these first 24 hours will be maintained ahead of the Festival over the coming months.”

Along with helping whisky fans organise their itineraries and finalising details of the Festival, organisers are balancing that with planning their new mini-festival in the autumn.

It takes place from September 9 to 11 at Elgin Town Hall, and will bring many of the region’s whisky producers together under one roof on their own doorstep from September 9 to 11. Tickets for that event are due to go on sale after the main Festival in May.

Tickets for all events in the 2016 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival programme are available to buy now at www.spiritofspeyside.com The Festival is also active on FacebookTwitter and on Instagram.

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Feb 042016
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

Aberdeen Inspired renewal ballot

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired and Julie Haig of city centre butcher Haigs (an Aberdeen Inspired levy payer).

A leading business organisation is planning to invest a projected £6.5 million in Aberdeen city centre as voting opens today (February 04) for a crucial renewal ballot.

A wide range of city centre projects and initiatives have been outlined for the next five years as part of Aberdeen Inspired’s planning towards the renewal, with an estimated £1.3m budget forecast annually in its new business plan.

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Levy players will begin to vote from today (February 04) on whether the organisation returns for a second five-year term, with the ballot running until March 17. The majority must vote “yes” to allow Aberdeen Inspired to make these ambitious plans a reality.

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“The next six weeks are vital for Aberdeen Inspired as we look towards our future plans should the ballot be successful. We are proud of what has been accomplished in our current term and are even more excited about what lies ahead.

“As part of the renewal process we have set out our aims in a business plan for our levy payers which highlights our aspirations and level of ambition for our next term, along with budgets and projects that will be carried out if there is a positive ballot outcome.

“If we do return for another five years we have estimated that Aberdeen Inspired will have a minimum of £6.5 million to utilise on a variety of enhancement and improvement projects throughout the city. This is a great investment in the future of Aberdeen which equates to around £1.3 million per year – funds which could play a part in regenerating the city centre.

“We are passionate about building on the positive work that Aberdeen Inspired has already carried out and hope we are in a position to play a major role in ensuring a bright future for our city centre.”

The organisation has organised future projects under four main themes – attractive city centre, promoting our city centre, safe and welcoming city centre and helping your business – all of which aim to be beneficial to its 700 levy payers throughout the BID (Business Improvement District).

Planned projects to improve the city centre aesthetic for the year ahead (2016-17) include a variety of multi-faceted clean-up campaigns ranging from a concentrated focus on Union Street to an extended programme of decorative floral baskets and bedding to further creative lighting projects of a similar nature to the well-received installation within Golden Square.

Aberdeen Inspired intends to bring forward a number of ‘Adopt an Area’ and street art projects – as well as utilising vacant properties in the city centre by lobbying owners to consider providing free and discounted space for pop-up enterprises and exhibitions.

The organisation also plans to build on the success of the Aberdeen Christmas Village, which welcomed more than 500,000 visitors, by increasing the size of the Village and attractions as well as organising a bigger programme of festivals throughout the city centre. This includes the recently announced Play Me, I’m Yours street piano exhibition – which aims to encourage people to engage with their city by providing pianos for the public to express themselves and interact with each other.

Other plans that will be carried out if Aberdeen Inspired is voted through include further backing of the city’s Purple Flag status – an accolade which recognises a safe and secure night time economy – as well as a follow-up to the current wayshowing project, which would involve suspended signage installed throughout the city centre to identify specific streets and quarters.

Gary Craig added:

“All of the projects we have outlined for the next five years would bring tremendous benefits to Aberdeen. If we are lucky enough to be voted through for another term we promise to bring forward major enhancements to the BID and city centre, all of which aim to drive footfall to the zone and increase dwell time. This is of huge benefit to our levy payers, as well as to residents and visitors to the city.

“We work closely with our levy payers on a very close basis and have taken on board their ideas and concerns when devising our projects, paying particular focus to the aesthetic of the city centre, as well as bringing new events to Aberdeen as part of our festival plans and continuing to help towards safety and security.

“Everyone in the Aberdeen Inspired team is passionate about making the city a better place and we are confident that we will be given the chance to carry out our plans and continue to revitalise the city centre.”

Aberdeen Inspired has led key projects over the past five years, with the Aberdeen Christmas Village and the rooftop garden at the St Nicholas centre particularly popular. The organisation has also been involved in key infrastructure initiatives, such as the installation of Big Belly Bin solar compacting technology throughout the city centre in addition to funding deep cleans of Union Street, floral enhancements across the BID and shopfront improvements.

The organisation is currently finalising two major projects in the city centre – installing over 50 street information signs and lighting up the Colonnade at St Nicholas Kirk.

Further information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired is available at www.aberdeeninspired.com

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