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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Nov 192015

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

Preparations are now underway to create a festive winter wonderland in the heart of the Granite City.

Led by Aberdeen Inspired in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Codona’s, the Aberdeen Christmas Village will open to the public from November 26 to January 03.

Union Terrace will be closed from November 21 to January 8 to accommodate the village, while the slip road between His Majesty’s Theatre and Union Terrace was closed from November 16 to allow construction of the open air ice rink to begin in the pocket park.

The spectacular rink will provide the focal point among a variety of fantastic attractions, ranging from festive fairground rides and a German style market to an entertainment marquee and festive food and drink stands.

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“The Aberdeen Christmas Village will be something unique and fantastic for Aberdeen and excitement is mounting as its opening draws nearer. Work will begin on Union Terrace on Saturday (November 21) and it will be great to see the village start to take shape. We believe that it will offer something different for residents and visitors to enjoy and create a wonderfully festive atmosphere in the heart of the city centre, enhancing Aberdeen’s Yuletide offering.

“Part of Aberdeen Inspired’s remit is to increase footfall within the city centre and we are sure that the Aberdeen Christmas Village will certainly help towards that. As well as building on the attractions we have put on in previous years, we wanted to create something that people would enjoy while also bringing in benefits to local businesses, restaurants and shops. It will be bigger and better than ever before.

“As with any major city centre event some traffic disruption will take place throughout the duration of its stay and plans are in place to minimise inconvenience to the public. We are looking forward to welcoming people to the village from November 26 and hope they enjoy the great variety of attractions and entertainment that will be on offer.”

Aberdeen City Council Deputy Leader Councillor Marie Boulton said:

“Excitement is really building now for the start of the Christmas Village with people from all over the city and further away having told us they’re thrilled about coming to see this unique event.

“The build for the ice rink is already taking shape and people will see a lot of work happening on the Union Terrace site to turn it into a winter wonderland. We look forward to welcoming people to our beautiful city with all the winter activities on offer.”

The line-up for the entertainment marquee has been organised by Breakneck Comedy and includes a host of talented comedians, bands, singers and choirs who have been booked to entertain the crowds. These include Best Girl Athlete, The Rock Choir, The Lorelei, Iron Broo and Dirty Shoes as well as Gary Meikle, Jordon Young and Jamie Dalgleigh among others.

The Aberdeen Christmas Village is part of the Winter Festival, which is being organised by Aberdeen City Council. A number of traffic measures will be in place for the duration of the village. Please ensure you plan ahead and for more information visit http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/

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. Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and driving footfall to the zone.

For further information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired visit www.aberdeeninspired.com

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Nov 122015
A young musician plays an instrument made from recycled garbage, in Landfill Harmonic.

A young musician plays an instrument made from recycled garbage, in Landfill Harmonic.

With thanks to Barbara Holligan.

Take One Action! will open its first ever Aberdeen Film Festival on Fri 13 November with an exclusive screening of Landfill Harmonic, the inspiring story of a youth orchestra from the slums of Paraguay whose choice of instrument – recycled garbage – blazes with hope.
The festival will close with The Price We Pay, Harold Crooks’ acclaimed new documentary about international tax avoidance, it was announced today.

Landfill Harmonic, which won the audience award at Take One Action’s film festival in Edinburgh and Glasgow this September, follows the journey of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a youth music group from the slums of Paraguay who build classical instruments out of garbage from the giant landfill site that towers over their homes – a story that captured the world’s imagination and featured in Time magazine and on Fox News.

The Take One Action! Film Festival sees thousands of Scots each year experiencing cinema with a difference, actively engaging with filmmakers, activists, politicians, journalists, and other audience members to explore new ways to create a fairer, more sustainable world – and to take action themselves.

Other festival highlights include a preview of The Divide, based on Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson’s bestselling book about social inequality, The Spirit Level and The Price We Pay, which has won rave reviews in Canada.

The Price We Pay examines the dark history and shocking present-­day reality of big business tax avoidance, which has seen multinational companies depriving governments of trillions of dollars in tax revenues by harbouring profits in offshore havens – originally created by London bankers in the 1950s. As well as tackling big issues, the festival tells fascinating human stories from across the world.

Stories of Our Lives is a series of moving vignettes about LGBTI people from Kenya, while Casablanca Calling introduces us to the women leading a spiritual revolution in Morocco by becoming Muslim leaders in a country where 60% of women have never been to school – part of a national response to a series of suicide bombings in 2003.

Festival screenings will take place at Belmont Filmhouse.

A special, free screening of Ivory Tower, an examination of the rising cost of higher education will be presented at the University of Aberdeen on Thursday 12 November. Every screening at the festival is accompanied by discussions with campaigners, artists and activists. Guests include representatives from Big Noise Torry (Sistema Scotland), Aberdeen Climate Action and SHMU Radio. Audience members are encouraged to get involved in the issues raised by the films.

“We want people to feel empowered to help make the world a fairer, more sustainable place by taking practical action alongside others in Scotland,” says festival director Tamara Van Strijthem.

“This programme was put together with the direct involvement and support of a great group of Aberdeen residents. We also want to encourage audiences in Aberdeenshire and beyond to organise their own Take One Action film seasons in their own communities.”

Tickets can be booked in advance via Belmont Filmhouse (01224 343 500) Some of the films are available to view in advance of the festival. For information, and to request interviews and images, please contact Tamara Van Strijthem, Executive Director on 07876 612 334 or tamara@takeoneaction.org.uk.

You can watch trailers for festival films on our YouTube channel.


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Oct 152015

With thanks to Graeme Forbes, Account Manager, Tricker PR

SOSWF Whisky 1

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has become one of the leading events of its kind over the past 17 years

Speyside’s leading malt whisky producers will unite on their own doorstep for the first time – to launch a brand new ‘dramfest’ organised by the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

Brand rivalries will be put to one side when Spirit of Speyside brings distillers from all over the region together under one roof in celebration of the area’s most famed product – malt whisky.

Plans for the first event – to take place in September 2016 – were unveiled at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival AGM on Tuesday.

It will offer an alternative weekend devoted to Speyside whisky in its home and heartland and complementing the internationally-renowned Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival held annually in May.

The September whisky weekend is being introduced to sate the public’s thirst for whisky-themed events in the area that is home to more than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries.

Elgin has been chosen as the central location for this Speyside showcase, which as well as whisky, will feature other drinks – including local gin and craft beer – along with fine food and produce from the region.

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has become one of the leading events of its kind over the past 17 years. It attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world to Speyside during the May Day weekend to savour a selection of more than 400 events, from tastings to ceilidhs, food pairings to comedy.

Many events are sold out within hours of tickets going on sale and accommodation in the region reaches capacity. Festival organisers could see scope to introduce a second – but distinctive – event to its annual calendar, which will allow people to celebrate Scotland’s national drink in its spiritual home without the need to plan a five-day itinerary.

The event will be held from September 9-11, 2016 at Elgin Town Hall, drawing visitors after the summer season and helping provide an economic boost for the area.

As well as tastings, cocktail making, a food court, and masterclasses will be part of the offering. Distilleries, businesses and partners will be encouraged to develop themes to add to the visitor experience.

Festival chairman James Campbell says,

“Our annual whisky festival has grown in size and stature to become one of the leading events of its kind in the world.

“We are now creating a brand new weekend event with the big difference that the distilleries will be together, under one roof, and that’s something that doesn’t normally happen on their home territory.

“We’ve chosen Elgin for the venue because it is central, with good transport links, and we’ll be encouraging businesses and other partners to get involved too. Further announcements on what people can expect from the new event, including its official title, will be made in the coming weeks and months.

“This is a great opportunity for distilleries and food and drink producers of Speyside to showcase their products and share what they do.

“While the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has an international audience, and overseas visitors may be among the contingent, we expect our September event to have a particular appeal to the home market, including people from the local area.

“We look forward to developing our plans and helping keep one of Scotland’s most famous whisky producing regions well and truly on the map, inspiring more visitors to develop their interest and knowledge of our national tipple.”

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival’s position as a major tourism attraction in Scotland was underlined again this year when it attracted 26,389 visits to events from a record 34 different countries.

The 2016 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – and its traditional musical arm the Spirit of Speyside Sessions – takes place from April 28 to May 2. For further information about the event visit www.spiritofspeyside.com with tickets on sale from January 2015.

The Festival is also active on social media – https://www.facebook.com/WhiskyFestival and @spirit_speyside on Twitter.

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Oct 082015

With thanks to Paul Smith, Managing Director, Citrus Mix.

Amanda Parer giant rabbits (1) The arrival of one of the world’s most eye-catching art installations will help underline Aberdeen’s credentials as a cultural hub, according to the organisation which has secured the acclaimed display for the city.
Aberdeen Inspired has worked closely with artist Amanda Parer to enable the striking public light installation Intrude to be brought to the north-east.

The mesmerising work will be unveiled in December in Union Terrace Gardens as part of this year’s expanded Winter Festival. It will serve as a precursor to SPECTRA, the increasingly popular Aberdeen festival of light.

Intrude has been showcased in high profile festivals across the globe – with New York, Paris, London and Sydney all included on an impressive list of host cities.

The installation features a collection of giant inflatable illuminated rabbits which stand up to seven-metres tall.

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“Amanda Parer has earned wonderful reviews for Intrude, which is a truly stunning piece of work and one which has won international acclaim.

“Aberdeen Inspired has worked hard to bring this installation to the city centre and we’re delighted to be preparing to welcome Amanda and Intrude to what we feel will be a stunning setting. It will bring a real sense of fantasy and intrigue to the heart of an area that will be a hive of activity during the festive period.”

Amanda Parer said:

“The whole idea of having these giant pieces on display is that they don’t fit in. It is a playful art work that evokes fantasy and wonder. It has been designed to give the sense that five giant glowing white rabbits have just hopped in and intruded on a given environment, in this case the Aberdeen’s wonderful Union Terrace Gardens.

“With this art work people find a wonder associated with similar childhood events such as Christmas. Yes, there is a dark element to the work, as with many childhood stories. An element of darkness is required to show the light and my rabbits do glow so very brightly. 

“I am very much looking forward to bringing Intrude to the north-east of Scotland this winter and I thank Aberdeen Inspired for asking me to present my installation and Aberdeen City Council for having us.”

The arrival of Intrude is part of a packed Winter Festival programme, which will also feature the new Aberdeen Christmas Village on Union Terrace. Aberdeen Inspired, Aberdeen City Council and amusement specialists Codona’s are working together to bring the village concept to life from November 25 to January 3.

Gary Craig added:

“Aberdeen Inspired is striving to make the city a more vibrant, attractive and appealing place to visit, live and work in. Art is an incredibly powerful way of doing that and particularly when it is an installation as vivid and as high profile as the one Amanda Parer has created. To be able to bring this as a free outdoor exhibition to a north-east audience is tremendous.

“Of course art of any type has the power to spark debate and divide opinion, but we have been incredibly encouraged by the excitement which is already building. In recent years SPECTRA has brought a real buzz to the city centre and captured the imagination of thousands of people. We view the arrival of Intrude as the perfect way to set the scene for what I’m sure will be another successful festival of light.

“In the past Aberdeen has been criticised for its commitment to the arts. In my view that is unfair – there is a very healthy cultural scene which can grow and thrive with the right support. Aberdeen Inspired has an important role to play in that and we are prepared to continue to invest to bring the best, most captivating and thought provoking work to our city centre.”

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. Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district. Further information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired is available at www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Oct 012015

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates

Food and Fiddle Fortnight 2015

Perfect accompaniment: Royal Deeside serving up third Food and Fiddle Fortnight next month

Royal Deeside will again provide the scenic backdrop as the area serves up another helping of its annual Food and Fiddle Fortnight, which begins this Friday.

Taking place in venues throughout the Aberdeenshire valley, the initiative brings together local food producers, businesses and musicians to showcase the area’s culinary and musical talents.

The celebration of food and music has been organised by Visit Royal Deeside and runs from Friday, 02 until Sunday, 18 October.

Now in its third year, the two-week festival is expected to draw visitors from across Scotland keen to experience the area at the start of one of its most spectacular seasons. A programme of around 60 events has been put together to cater for all musical and gastronomic tastes. Additional events are still being added to the festival’s programme.

The cultural and culinary celebration includes food demonstrations, farmers markets, live music sessions, special afternoon teas, exhibitions and concerts. Many of the area’s cafes, restaurants and inns are also creating special menus for the festival to showcase the breadth and depth of produce available locally.

As Royal Deeside begins to display its autumnal colours, visitors can explore its farmland, forestry and moorland aboard a Land Rover Safari organised by Glen Tanar Estate on Sunday, 04 October, which includes a venison barbecue lunch.

Those wishing to discover the area on foot can join local historian Ian Murray on a guided walk on Saturday, 17 October. Acclaimed local fiddler Paul Anderson will provide live fiddle music along the route, before participants enjoy more music and a two-course dinner at Ballater’s Riverside Cottage Cafe. The venue will also host an opera dinner on Saturday, 10 October.

For foodies, Glendavan House at Dinnet is serving up a Highland hamper and bagpipe breakfast on Saturday, 03 October, while on the Tuesdays and Wednesdays of the festival Cambus O’ May Cheese will open its factory doors and allow visitors to see its award-winning artisan cheeses being made.

Wark Farm at Cushnie, an organic farm butchery and meat retailer, will be holding food and farm experience days on Sunday, 04 and Monday, 05 October. The sessions will include a farm walk followed by an informal lunch of meat reared on the farm and vegetables grown in its kitchen garden. Visitors will also get the chance to learn some butchery skills during an afternoon demonstration.

Art and food will combine throughout the festival. On the opening night, Friday, 02 October, the renowned Butterworth Gallery will host an artistic taste evening. The event will feature local produce including local cheeses from Cambus O’ May Cheese and beers from Deeside Brewery. Meanwhile, on Thursday, 08 October, the 230 ceramic fish exhibits from the much-admired River of Fish installation, created by the Heckleburn Quines, will be auctioned off at Banchory’s Woodend Barn.

Festival highlights include two concerts featuring some of Scotland’s leading traditional musicians.

Celebrating the Hairst takes place on Thursday, October 08, in Tarland’s MacRobert Hall, with renowned local musicians, fiddler Paul Anderson and singer Shona Donaldson, performing a lively programme of traditional tunes and bothy ballads to mark harvest time.

The fortnight-long celebration will draw to a close with a concert performed by the Rua Macmillan Duo at the Woodend Barn, Banchory, on Sunday, 18 October. Award winning Scottish fiddler Rua Macmillan will be joined by pianist Suzanne Houston, with the duo performing a range of music from across Scotland and further afield.

Moira Gash, Visit Royal Deeside project co-ordinator, said:

“Royal Deeside is an area steeped in a rich musical and culinary heritage and the next two weeks will showcase the best of this. The 2015 festival programme features a diverse range of events, with things to appeal to people of all ages, interests and musical tastes. Local businesses have fully supported the Food and Fiddle Fortnight once again and have created some fantastic events.

“As Royal Deeside becomes carpeted in its autumnal shades of gold, russet and ochre, the area really is a stunning place to visit. A great way for all the family to discover more about it is to use the Explore Royal Deeside GeoTour to complement any of the Food and Fiddle Fortnight events. The GeoTour is Scotland’s only official geocaching tour and is a fantastic way to get active and hunt out some of Deeside’s attractions.”

To inspire visitors to explore the local area even further during the Food and Fiddle Fortnight, Visit Royal Deeside has put together an A to Z of things to do and places to visit. The list highlights some of the more unusual activities on offer, including lessons in tractor driving, gliding and driving a train on part of the old Deeside line.

Moira added:

“Royal Deeside has a huge amount to offer visitors. Our A to Z aims to highlight some of the more unusual and quirky activities and places to visit, while also reminding visitors about some of the iconic sites and attractions that the area has to offer. We hope it will give some inspiration to those visiting Royal Deeside in the months ahead.”

The Food and Fiddle Fortnight takes place in venues across Royal Deeside between Friday, 02 and Sunday, 18 October. A full programme is available at www.visitroyaldeeside.com or by searching for Food and Fiddle Fortnight on Facebook.

Visit Royal Deeside is the destination management organisation established in 2005 to promote Royal Deeside, Donside and the eastern Cairngorms. The organisation works with over 100 locals businesses to enhance the quality and variety of visitor products and services, providing effective training and support where necessary.

It aims to grow tourism in the area for the benefit of locals and ensure visitors have the best possible experience to encourage return visits and recommendations to family and friends. More information is available at www.visitroyaldeeside.com.

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Sep 252015

With thanks to Annie McKee.

Old Blind Dogs 2

The finale of this exciting Food and Music Day will be a concert with world-renowned, local folk superstars, Old Blind Dogs.

Tarland is well-placed for local produce and a thriving music scene, which will both be showcased in our second Tarland Food and Music Day. This festival will be held on Saturday 26th September (with events kicking off on Friday 25th September), at venues throughout the village, including the wonderful two year-old community garden (recently featured on the Beechgrove Garden).

A weekend of fantastic music is planned, with performances all around the village.

World-renowned local fiddler Paul Anderson will kick off the activities on Friday 25th September with a guided local walk, featuring musical interludes and local heritage tales (2-5pm, advanced booking required by emailing: tarlandfoodandmusicday@gmail.com).

Paul will also feature in the exciting evening concert with popular Perthshire fiddler, Patsy Reid and friends, including the pianist Andy Thorburn, Shooglenifty guitarist Ewan MacPherson, and drummer Signy Jakobsdóttir (£12/£10 MacRobert Hall, doors open from 7.30pm; Deeside Brewery bar). Local musicians are invited to join Patsy and friends for workshops in the Upper Hall on Saturday morning (10-12; £5 per hour).

The Food and Music Day itself will open with the established food and local produce market in the MacRobert Hall (10am – 12 midday, free entry), featuring Crannach Bakery, Mortlach Game, Deeside Brewery, Cambus o’ May Cheese, Wark Farm, Tarland Community Garden produce and much more. Morning teas and cakes will be ably provided by Cromar Senior Citizens Association.

An exciting game cookery demonstration will be provided by award-winning Chef Raj from India on the Green, Ballater, sponsored by the Scottish Natural Heritage initiative, ‘Scotland’s Natural Larder’ (2.30-4pm; free entry). Lunch will be provided by H.M. Sheridan Butchers, firing up the barbeque at Tarland Primary School, with India on the Green providing curry, rice and pakora lunch boxes in the MacRobert Hall (12 midday – 2pm).

Visitors can learn to put the ‘oomph’ back into their day with a talk by Torphins-based nutritionist, Dr. Chris Fenn (£3, Upper MacRobert Hall, 1 – 2pm).

Druminaboot workshop - Tarland Food and Music DayTarland Community Garden will be open within ‘Scotland’s Gardens’ scheme, including music by singer/songwriter Megan Albon, plus talks by James Reid from Tap O’ Noth Permaculture and Yvonne Davidson from Tarland Bee Group (£3, 2-5pm).

Aberdeen’s-own African drumming group ‘Drummin Aboot’ will be holding workshops in Tarland Primary School for both children and adults (4-6pm, £5 per hour), preceding a performance in the MacRobert Hall (6.15-6.45, free entry) – not to be missed!

The finale of this exciting Food and Music Day will be a concert with world-renowned, local folk superstars, Old Blind Dogs.

With a current line up featuring Jonny Hardie (fiddle, guitar and vocals), Aaron Jones (bouzouki, guitar, vocals), Ali Hutton (Border pipes, whistles, vocals) and Donald Hay (drums, percussion), the Tarland audience is sure to be in for a musical feast.

Ticket price includes hearty soup supper from Tillypronie-based chef Carol Eagles, and Deeside Brewery will be on hand with their tasty craft beers and ales (£15/£12; doors open 7pm, concert at 8pm).

The full programme of events can be found at www.tarland.org.uk (following links to the Food and Music Day) and all tickets can be booked by emailing tarlandfoodandmusicday@gmail.com or bought in person from Tarland Spar and Paper Shop and Strachans, Aboyne, at the Tarland Local Produce Market and on-the-door.

Please note that advanced booking is required for the music workshops and strongly advised for all concerts! The Tarland Development Group looks forward to welcoming you to the feasting and music-making on 26th September!

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