Jan 142016

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

The world's largest mobile thrill ride, Bomber Mac 2, reaches speads of up to 60 miles and hour at 55 metres tall at The Hoppings, Newcastle's legendary fair on the Town Moor. PHOTOGRAPH: Dirk van der Werff / AQphotos.com

Standing at 50m high, one of the biggest thrill rides in Europe, ‘the Bomber’ was a focal attraction at Aberdeen’s Christmas Village.

Organisers have hailed the Aberdeen Christmas Village a success after more than half a million people enjoyed the spectacular attraction. Spearheaded by Aberdeen Inspired in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Codona’s, the winter wonderland proved incredibly popular, attracting 515,972 people throughout the festive period. The village was open for a total of 37 days.

The organisation’s aim was to create an attraction bigger and better than Aberdeen has ever had before and they are thrilled by the high number of visitors to the village.

They also unveiled the world renowned art installation Intrude, which consisted of large illuminated rabbits at Union Terrace Gardens in December, adding an extra dimension to the crowd pleasing attractions.

The first term of Aberdeen Inspired, the banner under which the BID has operated since 2012, is now drawing to a close and the organisation hopes to use the positive response to the village as a springboard for future projects if it achieves renewal ballot success.

Between February 4 and March 17 levy-payers will vote in a re-ballot to determine whether or not the business-led initiative within the city centre returns for another five-year term.

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We were absolutely delighted with the public’s response to the Aberdeen Christmas Village, which was way beyond our expectations and proves there is appetite for events on this scale in the Granite City.

“The footfall figures for the village are incredible, with over half a million people enjoying everything it had to offer. It was fantastic to see everyone get into the festive spirit in the heart of the city centre and we are determined to carry this positive momentum forward as we continue preparations for our renewal ballot.”

Aberdeen City Council Deputy Leader Councillor Marie Boulton said:

“2015 was Aberdeen’s biggest winter festival and the Christmas Village helped to make it a huge success. We would like to thank everyone who visited and enjoyed the Village, the stallholders, musicians and comedians for their contribution and our staff and partners for all their hard work.”

Gary Craig added:

“In order to build on initiatives like the Aberdeen Christmas Village we need the support of our levy players in the upcoming ballot. As a close knit team we are dedicated to the work we deliver throughout the city centre and we know that passion for Aberdeen is mirrored by our electorate – the businesses we represent.

“Our hard-working and talented team wants to continue to bring forward projects to enhance the city centre and are hugely excited about our current project plans. Our ultimate aim is to drive footfall and improve the area for our members, with the Christmas Village a great example of that.”

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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Nov 162015
picture mark runnacles 17.07.06 ..... pictures of sun worshipers having fun in the sun at m&d's amusements at strathclyde park ....... see hot weather copy.......

The ‘Bomber’ will become a focal attraction. Picture: Mark Runnacles.

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

One of the biggest thrill rides in Europe will swing into action at Aberdeen’s Christmas Village later this month.
Standing at 50m high, the Bomber will become a focal attraction in the village, which is being spearheaded by Aberdeen Inspired in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Codona’s.

The Bomber is a hugely popular high rise, high speed ride bound to attract thrill seekers looking for an adrenaline rush. Reaching a maximum force of 3.6gs riders are thrown forward at speeds of up to 90mph.

Spinning gondolas add to the adrenalin inducing sensation as visitors race towards the sky and “bomb” to the ground at top speed.

The Aberdeen Christmas Village is part of the Winter Festival, which is being organised by Aberdeen City Council. As well as a Miami family ride and festive themed cups and saucers and carousel provided and staffed by Codona’s, the village on Union Terrace will feature a spectacular outdoor ice-rink and traditional German style market made up of retail outlets and festive food and drink stands, as well as an entertainment marquee.

Breakneck Comedy has organised the line-up for the venue, which will include a host of talented comedians, bands, singers and choirs who will take to the stage to entertain the crowds.

Visitors will be able to indulge in a number of festive treats ranging from a German Bratwurst Artisan Grill and hog roast pulled pork baguettes to Christmas doughnuts and hot chocolate.

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We are sure that the fantastic rides provided by Codona’s will be a hugely popular part of our Aberdeen Christmas Village. Part of our remit is to increase footfall within the city centre and all the family fun that will be on offer ticks all the boxes.

“We want people to be excited about being in Aberdeen at such a lovely time of the year and the bright lights of all the rides, along with the ice-rink and other offerings will certainly bring a feel-good factor to the heart of the city. What we have created will be unique and very different for Aberdeen and builds on the attractions we have put on in previous years.”

Alfred Codona, director of Aberdeen-based family amusement firm Codona’s, said:

“We are pleased to be playing our part in bringing some fun from our usual home at the beach to the heart of the city centre. The Aberdeen Christmas Village will be a wonderful attraction which will create a great festive atmosphere.

“The rides we have chosen will provide something for everyone, whether you are looking for a thrill or something to take your family on. At Codona’s we take great pride in providing fun and entertainment for locals and visitors alike and we are looking forward to bringing that to Union Terrace.”

The world's largest mobile thrill ride, Bomber Mac 2, reaches speads of up to 60 miles and hour at 55 metres tall at The Hoppings, Newcastle's legendary fair on the Town Moor. PHOTOGRAPH: Dirk van der Werff / AQphotos.com

The Aberdeen Christmas Village will be open to the public from November 26 to January 03. A number of traffic measures will be in place for the duration of the Aberdeen Christmas 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. Further information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired is available at www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Sep 282015

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

Stonehaven Fireballs - credit pic Paul Mitchell

Stonehaven Fireballs – Photo credit: Paul Mitchell

Legendary Scottish pop group Deacon Blue will headline Stonehaven’s Open Air in the Square this Hogmanay.
But those travelling to the event won’t need a ship called Dignity to see the top pop act: the Aberdeen Altens Hotel has unveiled an exclusive travel and accommodation package to allow revellers to party the night away without any stress.

The Stonehaven Package includes a delicious three-course buffet meal, transport to and from Stonehaven, entry into the event, and traditional stovies on return.

Tickets are available from just £159.00 per person, for a two-night stay arriving on December 30 or 31.

With additional acts still to be announced, Stonehaven’s Hogmanay celebrations are set to rival those of major cities, building upon previous years which have seen Simple Minds and the Human League visit the picturesque coastal town in the north east of Scotland.

The town will also once again host the iconic Fireballs Ceremony to bring in the bells, during which dozens of locals will take to the streets to swing homemade fireballs through the air in an amazing and unforgettable display.

Built from a wire cage attached to a chain and filled with combustible material, the swingers spin and twirl the flaming balls to ward off the evil spirits of the past year as they parade through the town.

Kris Manship, general manager of The Aberdeen Altens Hotel, says,

“Deacon Blue are undoubtedly one of Scotland’s greatest musical exports, so to have them playing at the Hogmanay celebrations in Stonehaven is a real coup.

“Fans will be travelling from all across the country to spend the night dancing to anthems like Dignity and Real Gone Kid, and witness the incredible spectacle of the fireballs, and as the official hotel partner we will be able to provide them with an easy way to attend on the night.

“Our Stonehaven Hogmanay packages have been extremely popular in recent years, with many guests commenting that it takes all the pressure out of the evening, allowing them to relax and have fun at New Year. We look forward to welcoming many more to The Aberdeen Altens Hotel this year.”

For those wishing to spend an evening in the city itself, the Aberdeen Altens Hotel will also offer a special package for a New Year’s Gala Hogmanay Ball. Guests will be able to dance the night away to the incredible sounds of Velvet Five, as well as enjoying a welcome drink on arrival, sumptuous five course meal and traditional stovies served throughout the night. At just £90.00 per guest (or from £125.00 including bed and breakfast), it’s the perfect way to bring in the New Year with friends.

To book your Hogmanay celebrations at the Aberdeen Altens Hotel, call 0871 376 9002 or email aberdeenaltenschristmas@thehotelcollection.co.uk

For more information, visit http://www.thehotelcollection.co.uk/hotels/aberdeen-altens-hotel/christmas-new-year/new-years-celebration/

The Aberdeen Altens Hotel is part of The Hotel Collection, which has two other venues in the city – The Aberdeen Skyway Hotel and The Caledonian Hotel. There are 446 bedrooms across the three venues, and each has conferencing and banqueting facilities. The Aberdeen Altens Hotel also has a health and leisure club. Further information is available at www.thehotelcollection.co.uk/aberdeen

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Dec 312014
Eilidh Whiteford

Dr Eilidh Whiteford. MP for Banff And Buchan.

By Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP.

As the festive season draws to a close, it’s a good time of year not only to reflect on our personal goals for the year ahead, but to consider those for whom Christmas has been a difficult and frugal time.

While many of us will have enjoyed the company of friends and relatives- and more good food and drink than is necessarily good for us – for others Christmas will have been stressful or lonely. For families on low and middle incomes, Christmas can create real financial pressures, especially when youngsters want to keep up with their pals’ clothes, games and gadgets.

Cuts in tax credits and freezes in child benefit have eaten into the finances of many families, and it will have been a lean festive season for many.  

During the Winter months it’s more important than ever look out for elderly, disabled or vulnerable neighbours.

Over the last year, the use of food banks has grown by around 400 per cent around Scotland. Our local food banks in Banff and Buchan are run by voluntary groups and churches, who support those referred to them. They deserve our ongoing gratitude for the lifeline support they offer to those in our communities who need them.

It’s a disgrace, though, that that in a country as rich as ours, food parcels are necessary at all, especially when much of the increase in demand for food aid has been driven by changes to taxes and benefits.

Just before the House of Commons rose for Christmas we debated a motion to repeal the pernicious Bedroom Tax. Although the Scottish Government has mitigated this measure for every affected household in Scotland (8 out of 10 of which are the home of a disabled person) the legislation remains on the statute book, and tenants remain liable in law.

Of course, I voted to end this deeply unjust piece of legislation once and for all, but it was voted down by the Tories and their Lib Dem allies, who claim – in Scotland- to oppose it, yet file through the lobby to support their Tory friends. Actions speak louder than words

I would like to wish everyone in Banff and Buchan a happy New Year going into 2015. I look forward to the next parliamentary session, where I will continue to do my best for all my constituents.

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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 282014
Stonehaven Fireballs -  credit pic Paul Mitchell

In full swing; Stonehaven Fireballs – Credit: Paul Mitchell

With thanks to Stevie Brown, Account Manager, Tricker PR

Flaming balls of fire swing through the crowds while the sounds of legendary 80’s pop band The Human League soar through the air.

It can only be the world famous Stonehaven Hogmanay celebrations – taking place from 8.30pm on Wednesday 31st December 2014.

Over the years Stonehaven has achieved a legendary reputation as one of the top destinations to bring in the New Year.

The population of the tranquil seaside town of Stonehaven is set to more than double from 11,000 to over 25,000 as people from around the world descend on the area to attend the hugely anticipated events.

The Stonehaven Fireballs is a 105 year old tradition that sees a select group of ‘swingers’ make their way down the High Street in front of legions of spectators, whirling flaming balls of fire above their heads before throwing them into the harbour.

Fire has been used through the centuries as a symbol for destroying wicked spirits and purifying evil to make way for good fortune. And there is no better time to forget hardships and look forward to a bright future than New Year’s Eve. From the start of December the swingers begin to create their own fireballs from chicken wire, using various materials to fuel the flames. The spectacular sight is not to be missed and is set to delight the capacity crowd of 8,500 people.

Also taking place as part of Stonehaven’s Hogmanay celebrations is Open Air in the Square – an outdoor concert in the town centre which has featured music legends Simple Minds and The Red Hot Chili Pipers in the past. This year the event will feature 80’s pop band The Human League.

Securing a high profile band three years in a row is a huge coup for a small town like Stonehaven. The concert is attended by upwards of 6,000 and there is always a vibrant atmosphere. The evening will also include a performance from Scots folk band the Peatbog Faeries and another surprise guest is set to be announced soon.

With so much on offer it’s a fantastic place to visit and bring in 2015 – it’s definitely the hottest place to spend the Hogmanay.

Where to Stay: For those looking for a fuss free Hogmanay, Thistle Altens offers the Stonehaven Package from £99.00 per person.

This includes accommodation, wristbands to the event, transport to and from the hotel, stovies on return back at the hotel, New Year’s Day breakfast and a late checkout of 2pm.

To book or for more information please call 01224 244 603 or visit www.thistle.com/Christmas.

How to get there: Stagecoach bus runs a regular service to Stonehaven. Visit http://www.stagecoachbus.com/timetable-landing.aspx for timetables. Parking is available on the streets throughout the town – normal restrictions apply.

For more information about the Fireballs Ceremony visit http://www.stonehavenfireballs.co.uk. For more information about Open Air in the Square visit www.oaits.org. If you would like further information about Aberdeen then visit www.visitaberdeen.com.

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Jan 032013

By Bob Smith.

A didna mak ony reesolushins
At the stairt o the New Year
Jist in case some o them
Widna be kept a fear
If a hid made reesolushins
Tae show a bit o moral grit
A wid mak the extra effort
Tae stir things up a bit
Keep opposin the mannie Trump
Ma main aim iss wid be
So fae oor shores he’d bugger aff
Fae his haverins we’d be free
A’d fecht tae keep oor kwintra
Safe fae the lan grabbin rich
Chiels fa try tae mak the rules
An democracy try tae ditch
A’d stir things wi the cooncil
Tae see oor money weel spint
An nae lan in the coffers
O fowk faa mak a mint
On a far less serious note
Ma gowf a’d try tae improve
So ma handicap it wis cut
An ma swing wis in the groove
A’d try tae be aye smilin
Fin fowk an me div meet
An look upon the positives
If the Dons they div git beat
Bit ae New Year reesolushin
An on iss a’ll nae bi canny
Is tae wish ye “a the best”
Fae Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie”

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie”
Image Credit© Anna Dobos | Dreamstime.com

Dec 212012

With thanks to Pete Coutts.

If the world doesn’t end on 21st December, then Christmas and New Year are right around the corner.

Why not spend your Hogmanay at the Hogmanay Hootenanny?

The Hogmanay Hootenanny stars Smokin’ Catfish, Catford, The Jellyman’s Daughter, and is Monday 31st December 8.30pm till late at The Blue Lamp, Gallowgate .

The entry fee is £15.

Smokin’ Catfish – local 5-piece bluegrass outlaws Smokin’ Catfish have been surprising audiences in Aberdeen since summer 2008 with their stunning harmonies and foot-stomping live performances.

This traditional bluegrass line up with its inbuilt rock ‘n’ roll attitude will wear out your dancing shoes in an explosion of high-octane, string-pickin’ fun.

Catford play songs with an emphasis on creamy vocal harmonies, textured rhythms, vivid melodies, and all underpinned by great musicianship and packed with soul.

This recently-formed band of four diverse multi-instrumentalists – hailing from the North-East of Scotland – blend American and Scottish folk influences with rhythms borrowed from across the globe to create a potent mix that sets them apart. Featuring local singer/songwriters Steve Crawford and Davy Cattanach, augmented by the amazing Jonny Hardie (Old Blind Dogs) and local multi-instrumentalist Pete Coutts

The Jellyman’s Daughter are a unique new duo from Edinburgh. Their interweaving vocal harmonies are complimented by an interesting mix of cello and acoustic guitar. One of the distinguishing features of The Jellyman’s Daughter is the innovative rhythmic style of cello playing providing a catchy percussive backbeat to some of their songs, contrasted by the intimacy of others.

Jan 072011

First of all, on behalf of AV, Fred Wilkinson would like to wish a Happy New Year to all our readers and contributors… and everyone else as well.

Whatever it is you have found to celebrate of late, whether the glittering blanket of snow some are glad to see the back of, a significant birth, time off work, turkey and trimmings, drinking to the seasonally normalised abnormal levels, the giving and recieving of gifts, the kids faces when they saw the decorations, the wrappings come off a coveted item, the effort of removing all the sellotape before said paperage could be recycled, we hope you had a good combination of joy, madness, and involuntary downtime.

Anyway, underneath all that razzamatazz, that highly anticipated and revered date, the 25th of December, marked exactly 6 months since publication of the first issue of Aberdeen Voice.

Determined and dedicated though our team may be, I doubt if any of us would have dared 6 months ago to predict we would be publishing regularly into a new year – otherwise we would all have ran off and done something less daft – like nude underwater indoor bowling, or low impact breathing, or …
The truth is, we didn’t know what lay ahead – only that there was an appetite for an alternative, and it would appear that appetite is still there and growing.

Today, by contrast, I doubt if any of the Aberdeen Voice team would bet against us providing a regular service beyond next Xmas and into 2012. However, the coming year poses a different set of challenges.

Our readership has grown steadily to the point where we have all but outgrown our present hosting arrangements. We are already experiencing dips in performance at peak periods, and current projections would indicate that a major upgrade is required within weeks if we are to satisfy the growing, global as well as local demand.

The fact that we have managed to run AV for 6 months on a budget of a few coins atop £40 never fails to raise a chuckle, and a proud chuckle at that – if there ever was such a thing.
However, whether we like it or not, due to you pesky readers multiplying like bloody vermin, we have no choice, other than to kill you all, but move to a more professional package. And so we now face an annual budget of around £500 to maintain progress at the rate that you, yes YOU, the readers demand!

We do not accept payment for adverts or in exchange for publishing any kind of material as we believe that this compromises our status as an independent organisation – and an independent organisation we wish to remain.

However, that’s not to say we will refuse a beer in exchange for a quiet mouth and an open ear – as long as we can buy you one back in exchange for your silence and attention while we feedback our assessment of your story, your angle, your character and your parentage.

But seriously folks, we do feel the time has come to seek assistance with future running costs.

We will of course be putting our hands in our respective collective pooches as we believe the value of AV is greater than the aforementioned cost, and in view of feedback to date, we know many of you agree.

With the planned introduction of a ‘donate’ button, and a fundraising event coming up soon, we are confident that we will not only continue to encourage grassroots citizen journalism and regularly publish items of relevance to the people of Aberdeen and the Northeast, but we will have access to features which will facilitate the creation of a better and more flexible product.

Whether or not you will find yourselves able to ease our financial burden, we hope that you will continue to support Aberdeen Voice by contributing articles and information, reading regularly and spreading the word.

One way or another we, will continue in our role of supporting freedom of expression and democracy within the widest acceptable bounds in the known journalistic universe … and wider if you toss the odd coin into our fountain of genuine fresh fairy tears – of joy I hasten to add.

We are the vehicle – you are the voice….. and that voice is getting louder… so, mind ye dinna scare the bairns noo!

Wishing you all the biggest and best in 2011 – AV

Dec 102010

By Vicky Rider.

The end of another year approaches – the end of a bad year for democracy in Aberdeen and a year in which we have seen proposals for our city which many citizens find very hard to stomach. One proposal in particular would see the complete destruction of Union Terrace Gardens.

Sir Ian Wood made the city of Aberdeen an offer that our council simply couldn’t refuse; £50 million towards the cost (estimated by some to be well over £300 million in total) of building a “City Square” over Union Terrace Gardens. His parameters include raising the area to street level and connecting it with Denburn and Belmont Street. A public consultation ensued, plagued by problems with online voting. The results clearly indicated the people of Aberdeen did not want the City Square and the project lost the vote; 45% for the Square to 55% against.

However, after a fraught council meeting attended by many concerned citizens and a final vote resulting  in a stalemate (largely due to many abstentions from councilors who were perceived to have a vested interest in saving UTG), the lord provosts deciding vote decided the fate of the gardens. Past convention has dictated that a deciding vote from the LP should uphold the status quo of the current situation, however on this occasion he chose to move the City Square project forward.

His decision not only shocked the city but also destroyed Peacock Visual Arts plans for a new art centre that was to be built under the arches of UTG. Peacock had already secured planning permission and a huge majority of the funding needed to complete this project and although there were mixed feeling among UTG supporters about whether the art centre was a good idea, it would have preserved most of the gardens and provided much needed facilities including disabled access.

do your Christmas shopping AND help save Union Terrace Gardens at the same time?

The council now plans to borrow at least £200 million to complete the City Square project at a time when they are considering canceling music tuition for the city’s children and discussing closing parks and libraries.

They spent £300,000 on a public consultation that was ignored and nearly £500,000 funding Acsef (Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future – the “public-private partnership” driving forward the development at UTG).  This “public-private” body has yet to receive any private funding.

Friends of Union Terrace Gardens formed to fight this proposal and are determined that Union Terrace Gardens will be preserved, improved and loved again.

They have already recruited volunteers to clean and repaint the arches, started getting the lights fixed and begun to investigate the possibility of reopening the beautiful Victorian toilets and installing proper disabled access. They have held many successful events including mass picnics, evenings of acoustic music and a car boot sale.

Now, this hard-working group is holding a festive get together in the gardens on the 18th of December at 1.30pm with mince pies, lucky dips for the kids, a brass band and carol singing, take a break from the Christmas shopping and enjoy some festive fun!

Do you want to do your Christmas shopping AND help save Union Terrace Gardens at the same time?

FoUTG have LOTS of goodies for sale this Christmas; bags, calendars, calendar posters, car stickers, T-shirts, hoodies and more.

There will also be a  stall in the Trinity Centre on the 20th of December so put it in your calendar and get some Christmas gifts!

For an order form and more info; http://friendsofutg.org/contactus or email Saveutg@gmail.com.

You can join  FoUTG at http://friendsofutg.org/home/86 or by writing to FoUTG, PO Box 10507, Aberdeen.

FoUTG would like to wish all it’s supporters and those helping with the campaign a very Happy Christmas and a great New Year.