When the visitor numbers for SPECTRA arrived in my inbox earlier this week it confirmed what we already knew – once again Aberdeen’s festival of light had been an overwhelming success.
More than 63,000 people attended the four day programme – almost double the attendance from 2016 and continuing the year on year growth of what has become a fixture on the city’s events calendar since its introduction.
Of course the visitor numbers tell only part of the story. What is just as heartening is the feedback and buzz there has been around SPECTRA, with everyone I have spoken to hailing it as a fantastic experience which captivated the crowds.
SPECTRA is a great example of the impact innovative events can have on Aberdeen. Not only did it bring tens of thousands of local people together and encourage them to discover parts of the city they may not usually visit, but the festival also attracted visitors from near and far.
The positive publicity generated, not only in the traditional media but across social media, will no doubt tempt many more to look at Aberdeen in a fresh way and hopefully consider visiting in the future.
As well as the obvious cultural and social value events of this scale bring, we cannot overlook the significant economic benefits.
For all of those reasons it is important we embrace the potential Aberdeen has as a destination and that’s why Aberdeen City Council is working hard, including increasing our investment, to expand the offering and ensure the calendar continues to evolve as part of the City Centre Masterplan.
With the Great Aberdeen Run on the horizon and professional cycling’s Tour Series set to roll into the city this year, there is plenty to be excited about in the year ahead.
The redeveloped Aberdeen Art Gallery will be another world class attraction when it opens, which combined with the Music Hall revamp, construction of the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre and plans for Union Terrace Gardens will give us a wonderful platform to continue pushing ourselves forward as a global city waiting to be explored.