New Year, New Resolutions

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The Christmas decorations are slowly being returned to their dusty homes; the fridge is no longer the keeper of an army’s supply of festive foods and the radios have ceased playing the iconic Christmas classics because as much as we would love for it to be Christmas every day, sadly that is not the case. Christmas Day and New Year’s Day have come and gone with their abundance of good food, good company and good times and this of course means it is that sorrowful point of the year where all the goodwill and celebrations have ceased and we have to return desolately to our desks. However, while January can be a tough slog, what with the cold weather and the Christmas bills still cowering in our wallets, nevertheless it is still a brand new start meaning all kinds of potential lie ahead. Whatever adversity or struggles you faced in 2016, now you have a blank page upon which to write a whole new chapter and to start all over again.

Therefore, this is where New Year’s resolutions come into play because a new page means a new opportunity to change our ways. We have all heard of them and we will have all probably devised a few over the years with the best of intentions. However, it is irrefutable that while resolutions are fairly easy to come up with, they are a lot more difficult in practise. The reasoning is because normally resolutions are often related to cutting something out of lives, and that ‘something’ is normally a vice or indulgence – the things that bring us a lot of joy and pleasure, even though we know they are bad for us. Therefore, resolutions tend to pertain to goals like losing weight by cutting out bad food or to stop smoking. However, while the results of such resolutions are undoubtedly rewarding, it can be hard to get excited for the process as they require a lot of discipline. Therefore, how about balancing out your tougher resolutions with a goal that is fully rooted in fun, fulfilment and adventure with no discernible negatives? This goal will allow you to see things you may have never seen; to meet people you may have not otherwise met and to create memories that will last a lifetime. Guessed what it is yet? If not, we can only be talking about the New Year’s resolution of travelling of course!

Ok, so we know what you are thinking, travelling is expensive and normally resolutions can be associated with cutting costs. However, travelling really does not have to be all that costly when you consider staying a little closer to home and engaging in a staycation. So often people talk of wishing to travel more but this does not mean that you have to dig out your passport and fly somewhere exotic. Travelling can simply be visiting the hidden gems that are only a few hours away as even in our own hometowns, there are wonders that we will have not experienced. Sometimes the most enlightening thing we can do is experience our home town and home country through the eyes of a visitor because then we realise all the potential fun, history, beauty and culture there is to soak in which we often can otherwise ignore.

It is undeniable that most people wish they could travel more as everyone loves new experiences and to escape from their home for just a few days. However, we appreciate that time and money are both inhibiting factors that can get in the way of the dream.  Therefore, this is where a city-break staycation can come into play. You can get all the excitement and cultural enrichment at a fraction of the cost and potentially without even having to take time off work. With locations in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow, we have apartments in some of the UK’s biggest and best cities full of world-class dining, attractions and entertainment. People from all over the world flock to experience the heritage and beauty of such locations and so should we! This has been validated by the fact that Scotland made Rough Guide’s 2017 list for one of the Top 10 ‘Must See’ Destinations. Not only will you get to escape from your daily routine just for a few days but you will always get to experience something new. Do not believe us? Check out just some of the fun and excitement that lies ahead in our respective locations in the coming months:

Aberdeen

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Spectra Festival, Aberdeen

Festivals

Spectra – 9th Feb – 12th Feb 2017

Aberdeen Jazz Festival – 15th Mar – 19th Mar 2017

Look Again – 27th Apr – 1st May 2017

May Festival – 26th May – 28th  2017

Aberdeen International Youth Festival – July 2017

TechFest – 26th Aug – 25th Sep 2017

North East Open Studies – 9th – 17th Sep 2017

True North – September 2017

DanceLive – 12th – 28th Oct 2017

Sound – 26th Oct – 12th Nov 2017

For more details, visit https://aberdeenfestivals.com/ 

Birmingham

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Birmingham Weekender

Chinese New Year – 29th Jan 2017

Muller Indoor Grand Prix – 18th Feb 2017

Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships – 7th Mar – 12th Mar 2017

Birmingham Pride – 27th – 28th May 2017

ICC Champions Trophy – 1st Jun – 18th Jun 2017

Aegon Classic Birmingham – 17th Jun – 25th Jun 2017

Colmore Food Festival – 30th Jun – 1st Jun 2017

Dinosaurs in the Wild – 24th Jun – 24th Aug 2017

Birmingham Weekender – 22nd Sep – 24th Sep 2017

Birmingham Comedy Festival – 6th – 15th Oct 2017

Birmingham International Marathon – 15th Oct 2017

Edinburgh

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Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Six Nations Rugby – Feb – Mar 2017

Edinburgh International Science Festival – 1st Apr – 16th Apr 2017

Imaginate Festival – 27th May – 4th Jun 2017

Edinburgh International Film Festival – 21st Jun – 2nd Jul 2017

Edinburgh Jazz & Blue Festivals – 14th Jul – 23rd Jul 2017

Edinburgh Art Festival – 27th Jul – 27th Aug 2017

Edinburgh Festival Fringe – 4th Aug – 28th Aug 2017

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo – 4th Aug – 28th Aug 2017

Edinburgh International Festival – 4th Aug – 28th Aug 2017

Edinburgh International Book Festival – 12th Aug – 28th Aug 2017

Scottish International Storytelling Festival – 20th Oct – 31st Oct 2017

Glasgow

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Piping Live!

Celtic Connections – 19th Jan – 5th Feb 2017

The Glasgow Tattoo – 19th Jan – 21st Jan 2017

Cirque Berserk – 24th Jan – 29th Jan 2017

The Glasgow Film Festival – 15th Feb – 26th Feb 2017

Gin Festival Glasgow 2017 – 3rd Mar – 5th Mar 2017

Glasgow Book Festival – Mar 2017

International Comedy Festival – 9th Mar – 26th Mar 2017

Glasgow Science Festival: Glasgow Explores – 8th Jun – 18th Jun 2017

Summer Nights – 3rd Aug – 13th Aug 2017

Piping! Live – 7th Aug – 13th Aug 2017

Total BWF 2017 World Badminton Championships – 21st Aug– 27th Aug 2017

The Mackintosh Festival – 1st Oct – 31st Oct 2017

Have we managed to sell you on the resolution of travelling more in 2017? If so, we can further help cut the costs associated with travelling because with apartments that are capable of holding up to six persons but that are not charged per person; our serviced apartments are the perfect cost-effective alternative to hotels. This is particularly true when you consider how that as our apartments come complete with a fully-equipped kitchen and lounge, you can further cut down on the costs associated with dining out. Never tried a serviced apartment before? Well, it looks like you just found another new resolution! Book today at www.thespires.co.uk, email info@thespires.co.uk or phone 0345 270 0090.

Images
http://jaco.co/SPECTRA-Aberdeen-Festival-of-Light
https://www.visitengland.com/experience/free-events-in-september-birmingham-weekender
http://www.cntraveller.com/recommended/cities/edinburgh-festivals-guide
https://www.scotsmagazine.com/articles/things-cannae-miss-piping-live-2015/

 

Welcome to a Winter Wonderland

Not long ago the displays in shop windows were adorned with pumpkins, ghosts and cobwebs galore, however as soon as midnight chimed to signal the close of the spookiest day of the year, Halloween, Santa Claus officially rode into town on his wondrous sleigh. Yes, much debate will be ignited as to whether his grand arrival is just a little too early, however there is no denying the infectious excitement and anticipation that is garnered with the first sightings of Christmas trees, twinkling fairy lights and the revealing of festive coffee cups. It truly is one of the most magical times of the year and you would be hard pushed to find a city that is not caught up in all the festival fun. With locations in major UK destinations such as Aberdeen, Glasgow, Birmingham and Edinburgh, The Spires Serviced Apartments are particularly fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most wonderful celebrations in the country and we are so excited to share all this cheer with our guests. Of course, alongside bedazzling Christmas lights illuminating the streets in a warm festive glow, the heart of any city Christmas celebration has to be the much anticipated annual Christmas market which brings together local residents and tourists alike. Fortunately, none of our locations are shrimping on this tradition and so we thought we would deliver to you today some of the excitement you can experience when you visit The Spires this wonderful winter season:

Aberdeen

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Image: http://www.dinnerstories.co.uk/2015_12_01_archive.html

Aberdeen Christmas Village, 25th November – 8th January, Union Terrace

Why have a market, when you can have a whole village ablaze with Christmas cheer and wonder?! Last year was the inaugural year for the Aberdeen Christmas Village and it went down such a storm, it has come back even bigger and grander this year. That is right, while the open-air ice rink and festoon of market stalls are all making their anticipated return; they are coming back plus-size edition meaning there is all the more fun to be had.  There are even some extra surprises with a Christmas Tree Maze being introduced in the Union Terrace Gardens – can you conquer the mischievous journey to the elves workshop? Complete with market stalls selling all kinds of treasures to fill Christmas stockings around the city; live entertainment and nostalgic fairground style attractions, there is certainly no doubt that Christmas has arrived to make the Silver City that extra bit more sparkly and glittery.

Honourable Festive Highlights:

*Christmas Tree Switch-On – Castlegate – 24th November, 7pm

*Twelve Days of Christmas Wooden Carvings Trail – throughout city – 24th November – throughout December

*Christmas Lights Switch-On Parade – Union Street – 27th November, 5.30pm

*Nativity Scene – St Nicholas Kirkyard – 28th November – 6th January

*Panto – Dick McWhittington – His Majesty’s Theatre – 3rd December – 8th January

Birmingham

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Image: http://www.germanchristmasmarketbirmingham.com/history/

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market & Craft Fair, 17th November – 29th December, Victoria Square

Of course, there is no city that quite lays the ultimate Christmas Market gauntlet like Birmingham as its resident annual market is renowned all over the UK and is synonymous with the arrival of the festive period. The heart of Birmingham’s Christmas celebrations, the market is actually the largest German market outside of Germany and Austria and so there is no denying that a visit to this market is a definite must to really get in the Christmassy spirit. If you think you can attend this majestic city celebration without purchasing anything, then think again as with 180 stalls selling all kinds of tempting decorations, toys, jewellery and of course food (Bratwurst or mulled wine anyone?), you will be hard-pressed to keep your wallet ensconced in your bag. When you are finished having a magical ride on the carousel or joining in a carol or two, make sure to pop into the Craft Fair adjacent to the market where you can find even more unique and handcrafted Artisan pieces to complete any gift menagerie under the tree.

Honourable Festive Highlights:

The Jewellery Quarter Christmas Lights Switch-On – The Golden Square -18th November  – 5pm

Magical Lantern Festival – Birmingham Botanical Gardens – 23rd November – 2nd January –

*Panto – Dick Whittington – Birmingham Hippodrome- 19th December 2016 – 29th December 2017

Glasgow

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Image: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/glasgow-christmas-activities-pictures-glasgow-4769441

Christmas Market, 20th November – 22nd December, St Enoch Square

When you consider all the celebrations occurring across Glasgow this winter, there is no denying that the city itself could almost be considered one large Santa’s grotto – it is overflowing with that much Christmas cheer and spirit! This could not be better reflected by the fact that there is not just one traditional Christmas market but two. Therefore, whether you want warming culinary delights; beautifully ornate handcrafted decorations or an exhilarating fairground ride or two, you are bound to get it somewhere whether it is in St Enoch Square or in George Square (opening 26th November – 29th December). Likewise, with a retail reputation which has led to the development of a renowned ‘Style Mile’, there is no surprise that there are a few festive bargains to be found across the 1, 500 shops.

*Coco Cola Christmas Truck Tour – Silverburn – 18th November 2016

*Glasgow Christmas Light Switch-On – George Square – 20th November

*Style Mile Christmas Carnival – Glasgow City Centre – 27th November

*Panto – Aladdin – Clyde Auditorium – 10th December – 31st December

Edinburgh

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Image: https://www.list.co.uk/article/74953-edinburghs-christmas-2015-programme-revealed/

European Christmas Market, 19th November – 7th January, East Princes Street Gardens

It is no surprise that there is nowhere that does Christmas bigger and better than Scotland’s stunning capital itself. Beautiful whatever the season, Christmas just elevates Edinburgh’s scenic wonder to the level that it could fit in perfectly on any Christmas card. Right at the heart of this beauty and warmth is the European Christmas Market which resides in the hub of the city. It is full of all kinds of delicate artisan works, handcrafted decorations, unique jewellery, as well as tantalising festive sweet and savoury treats. Likewise, Edinburgh’s skyline is resplendent with the twinkling of thousands of lights bedazzling both the city streets and the myriad of fairground attractions including a Big Wheel and the renowned Star Flyer. Whether you prefer your fun in the air; down on the ground in the Christmas Tree Maze or on the ice in the ink-rink, it is undeniable that there all kinds of levels of fun to be had.

*Light Night – 20th November, 1pm – 5pm

*The Scottish Market – West George Street – 26th November – 24th December

*Street of Light – George Street – 21st November – 24th December

*Alice in Wonderland – The Lyceum – 2nd – 31st December

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble…

The nights are getting darker, there is an escapable chill in the air and the streets are slowly becoming festooned in a trail of leaves. Factor in those comforting mugs of hot cocoa, and you definitely know that Autumn is finally here. This officially means that if you are brave enough to pay the shops a visit, you will now be aware that the jolly man in red and his reindeer friends are on the way. However, while we are undoubtedly excited for all the indulgent food, glittering sparkles and mysterious gifts that Christmas brings, we want to focus on some events that are arriving a little sooner. This is because while nothing is quite comparable to the magic and wonder of Christmas, we like to think that the fiendish fun of Halloween and the spectacular night-time displays of Bonfire Night hold their own in the excitement stakes. When else can you dress up as someone you are not, pig out on all kinds of indulgent candy and see the skies brought to life in an illuminating display of rainbow colours? Therefore, this week we thought we would look at all the family-fun you can experience with us this Autumn and when you consider our super city central locations, you know you are never too far away from all the action.

Aberdeen

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Image: http://www.picturebritain.com/2011/05/crathes-castle-banchory.html

Crathes Castle

Being located in ‘Castle County’ with more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK, it is safe to say that we are all relatively castle crazy in our Aberdeen HQ. However, you can take this craziness and lunacy to a ghoulish level when you attend the special Halloween ghost tour of Crathes Castle from 28th – 31st October. With dark passageways and walls that hold stories spanning all kinds of decades, where else could be more spookily fitting to spend the holiday? No matter what corner you turn, expect the unexpected and with a ‘warm’ welcome from the castle’s most renowned inhabitant who haunts the halls, the Green lady, you know you are in for a few chills down the spine.

Website: http://www.nts.org.uk/Events/Theme/Halloween-fun/

Haddo House

Halloween is all about mystery and tricks, but that does not mean it always has to be gruesome. Take for instance Halloween Magic at Haddo House where you can be captivated by mesmerising illuminations that bring both ethereal creatures like fairies, and those which are a little more sinister, to life. With stunning woodland grounds which deserve to be admired both during the day and in the mysterious night, it is the perfect setting for a night rich in fairy tales and magic.

Website: http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Haddo-House/Events/

Codona’s

Complete with bowling, dodgems and an arcade where one can spend many an hour (and your loose change!), Codona’s amusement park is the perfect family friendly trip at it is. However, if you factor in it being bedecked in all kinds of ghostly gruesome decorations and offering traditional party games, then you know there is no where you can get more in the Halloween spirit of things. The only thing not so scary is the special reduced prices Codona’s offering throughout the month of October meaning you can be scared, but for less!

Website: http://codonas.com/sunset-boulevard/smugglers-cove/smugglers-cove-halloween-spook-tacular

Hidden Aberdeen

If there is anything synonymous with Halloween, it is creepy and spine-tingling tours of deserted streets haunted by restless ghosts who want to lure you into their dark and twisted stories. Therefore, if you are the kind of adrenaline junkie who lives for these kinds of scares, Hidden Aberdeen undoubtedly offers a tour which will hit all the spots. With tours focusing on all kinds of morbidly fascinating stories covering murder, bodysnatchers and ghosts, there is a darker history to the buzzing streets of Scotland’s Silver City which deserve to be told and when better to hear them than on this ghostly night?

Website: http://www.hiddenaberdeen.co.uk/

Birmingham

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Image: https://www.cadburyworld.co.uk/whats-on/autumn

Birmingham is the ultimate destination for family friendly fun because due to its convenient location, it is only a short distance away from major UK attractions including Drayton Manor, Warwick Castle, West Midland Safari Park and Cadbury’s World. Fortunately, if these attractions were not exciting enough as it was, they are taking it to a whole new level this Autumn as they fully embody and embrace the ghostly season. Therefore, from horror mazes to all kinds of wicked tricks and treats, there are all kinds of new mischievous fun to be had from the seasonal horror spectaculars on offer.

The National Sea Life Centre

All kinds of mystery and wonder lurk in the dark crevices of the ocean floor and the National Sea Life Centre is certainly playing on this with a Spooky Seas exhibit on display from the 22nd October to the 31st October. From jellyfish to piranhas, not all ghostly forms are to be discovered on dry land!

Website: https://www2.visitsealife.com/birmingham/discover/events/

Black Country Living Museum

One of Birmingham’s most renowned and award-winning museums, there could not be a better setting for some Halloween fun quite like the cobbled streets of the Black Country Living Museum which tells the story of the world’s first industrial landscape. Factor in live street entertainment including magicians and fire-jugglers; actual trick or treating and interaction with all kinds of creepy, crazy characters, it is a sure fire guarantee for a wicked night out! Available between 28th and 31st October.

Website: http://www.bclm.co.uk/events/halloween-nights–sold-out/14.htm

Pumpkin Flotilla at Sarehole Mill

Ghosts, witches, vampires and candy; all are symbols synonymous with the seasonal haunted spirit. However, from infamous Pumpkin Spices Lattes to Pumpkin Pie, who can forget the other main accessory of the season – pumpkins! Therefore, for a more relaxed spooky evening, how about partaking in Birmingham’s only pumpkin flotilla at Sarehole Mill? Occurring between October 28th and October 30th, you can spend the mysterious period of twilight, not gawping at vampires, but being hypnotised by the wondrous sight of gently glowing carved pumpkins floating away down the Mill pond. The complimentary hot chocolate also adds a little something special to the proceedings!

 Website: http://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/sarehole/whats-on/pumpkin-flotilla

 

Glasgow

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Image: https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/halloween-in-glasgow

Glasgow Horror Festival

Sometimes Halloween is not all about going out, it is also about staying in, turning off the lights, snuggling up in a duvet and then subjecting yourself to a marathon of the scariest and most gruesome movies which guarantee you a night with the lights switched on. Well, with the inaugural Glasgow Horror Festival on 29th October 2016, you can be terrified out of your wits with company as the festival will be 12 hours full of indie movies, live music, industry Q and As and of course some crazy dressing up! If you are really a horror movie buff, make sure not to miss the movie drive-in at the Riverside Museum on the 30th October which is showing classics including Hocus Pocus.

Website: http://www.princeandprincessofwaleshospice.org.uk/event-article/social-events/drive-in-movie

Tennant’s Halloween Brewery Tour

Whether it is Halloween or not, the Tennant’s Brewery tour is always worth a visit just because you cannot say you have fully experienced Scotland until you have learnt the story of one of Scotland’s national drinks. However, the Halloween tours on the 28th/29th October just elevate the invigorating stories to be told because mysterious tales of the brewery are interwoven alongside the provision of Halloween games and nibbles.

Glasgow Science Centre – Halloween Fright Night

While you may be dying to enjoy a spooky pint of Tennants, sometimes with your young ones in tow this may not be a possibility. However, Glasgow is able to provide some family friendly thrills and nowhere is this more clearly evident than at the Glasgow Science Centre’s Halloween Fright Night on 28th October. It is literally one of Scotland’s biggest family friendly Halloween extravaganzas and with a costume catwalk, the chance to concoct your own monster potion, a gruesome live autopsy and the telling of tales of mystery in the planetarium, it is no surprise why all the young ghosts and ghouls congregate here!

Website: http://www.glasgowsciencecentre.org/special-events/frightnight.html

Edinburgh

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Website: https://www.scotsmagazine.com/articles/break-free-from-the-edinburgh-fringe/

Ghost Tours

Just from looking at Edinburgh and its cobbled old streets, you can see that it is a city rooted in a rich history and of course where there is history; there are often dark, sinister stories of murder, mystery, treason and blood. Therefore, regardless of whether you visit Edinburgh at Halloween or not, there is always ample opportunity to have the goose bumps rise on your arms and the chill go down your spine as many attractions including the Edinburgh Dungeons, The Ghost Bus Tour, Mary’s Kings Close and Edinburgh’s renowned ghost walks/murder tours are open for haunting all year round. From bodysnatchers to vampires to witch trials, you can learn all about it whatever month you visit, but of course there could not be a more chillingly fitting time than the night of scares and ghouls itself. Mercat Tours in particular are offering dedicated Halloween tours.

Website: https://www.mercattours.com/

 Condemned, Real Mary’s King Close

Mary’s King Close is rumoured to be one of Scotland’s most haunted grounds as it is, therefore where better to spend Halloween? This is particularly true when you consider how the chilling stories of the underground streets are taken to a whole new terrifying level with the seasonal late night experience of “Condemned”. Witches are an integral part of Halloween due to their dark magic and plotting, and therefore this is why “Condemned” is centred on telling the story of Edinburgh’s witchcraft past.

Website: http://www.realmarykingsclose.com/events/16-02-17/condemned-287898829.aspx

The Real Jekyll and Hyde at Edinburgh Dungeons

While some of Edinburgh’s renowned ghost and murder tours may be a little too much for the young ones, the Edinburgh Dungeons are able to make the dark, gruesome past a little more accessible through invoking some comical relief and interactive guest participation. With the seasonal addition of ‘The Real Jekyll and Hyde’ to generate some extra thrills, there really cannot be a better time to interact with some of the shadiest characters of Edinburgh’s past.

Website: https://www.thedungeons.com/edinburgh/en/explore-the-dungeon/jekyll-and-hyde.aspx

Halloween Trail

Between the Botanic Light event and this creepy Halloween trail occurring between the 15th and 31st of October, there could not be a better time to experience the wonder, beauty and now mystery of the Royal Botanic Gardens. A light-hearted activity perfect for all the family, the trail centres on helping a witch’s cat, Caley, to amass all the necessary plant ingredients to concoct the healing potion for the Garden’s witch.

Website: http://www.rbge.org.uk/whats-on/family-events

Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016

There is no experience quite as immersive as the Samhuinn Fire Festival, a non-ticketed event occurring on 31st October which will send your senses into overdrive due to the dramatic fire, pumping music and captivating street performances that occur. Halloween is all about tradition and this event is no different because it is a Celtic festival all about reliving the pagan tradition of Samhuinn, the celebration that occurred when harvest ended and winter was coming. Beginning on the Royal Mile, this is an amazing spectacle and experience not to be missed!

 Website: https://beltane.org/about-samhuinn/

 

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November…

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Website: http://www.walkersandford.co.uk/festive-firework-displays-guy-fawkes-nights-in-glasgow-november-2012/

However, the night-time spectaculars go beyond the 31st of October, so make sure you stick around! This is because of course who can forget the 5th of November where the skies come to life in a blaze of colour and wonder to celebrate Bonfire night. Fortunately, none of our respective locations are shy when it comes to getting in the seasonal spirit of sparklers and Catherine wheels so make sure to discover where some of the headlining public events are occurring for the best view in the house. From fairgrounds to live music, this is a celebration truly not to be missed!

Birmingham

Edgbaston Stadium Fireworks Spectacular (tickets required)

                        Solihull Round Table Fireworks Display

Glasgow   

Glasgow Green Fireworks (free)

Edinburgh

Fireworks at Meadowbank! (tickets required)

Aberdeen

Aberdeen Beach (free)

Get into the Festival Spirit

festivals

Image Courtesy of: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/

In 2015 we were very excited to open apartments in one of the world’s leading festival cities – Edinburgh. With a schedule comprised of 12 internationally renowned events that cover all disciplines from Films to Storytelling and which are spread out over the year, it is irrefutable how Edinburgh is certainly championing the festival scene. However, did you know that Aberdeen, Scotland’s renowned Oil Capital and Silver City, also has its own dedicated festival group? People often think of the golden sandy shores of the beach or the glittering architecture when they think of Aberdeen, but it is really starting to evolve beyond that and developing a rich multi-cultural entertainment and events base. This has culminated in the formation of “Aberdeen Festivals” so that there can be a collective effort towards raising awareness of the festivals and enhancing their offering. The success of “Aberdeen Festivals” is already prevalent with it being discovered how it generated a £2 million economic impact for the region – thus reflecting the number of visitors the collective events enticed and inferring the quality of the festivals. Therefore, if you are thinking of visiting a Festival city, why not choose Aberdeen with its burgeoning events scene that predominantly takes place between February and November? Amidst the stores, the dolphins and the castles, soak in culture in a different way and with 10 prime festivals underlying “Aberdeen Festivals”, there is at least one Festival that will appeal to everyone.

SPECTRA – starting off the year in a blaze of bright light, SPECTRA is officially Aberdeen’s Festival of Light which helps to brighten up the dark winter days. Involving international artists collaborating with Scotland’s creative community, this is a festival that touches all the senses. From gallery installations to imaginative works in public spaces, this festival truly celebrates all that is unique and amazing about the city’s creative scene.

Dates: Normally held in February

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/spectra/

Aberdeen Jazz Festival – for the music fans out there, the Aberdeen Jazz Festival organised by Jazz Scotland should definitely be headlining your list as it is one of the city’s headlining music festivals. Attracting renowned jazz players and incorporating free lunchtime performances for those making their way into the jazz scene; the festival truly encompasses all players in the vibrant Jazz scene. Held in a multitude of locations, Aberdeen’s iconic “Blue Lamp” location plays a prominent role in the festival.

Dates: Normally held in March

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/aberdeen-jazz-festival/

LOOK AGAIN – If the dazzling lights of SPECTRA caught your eye, so will the equally aesthetically attractive LOOK AGAIN festival which is centred on visual arts and design. For a number of days, you have to really be on the lookout as the city centre with its existing structures such as statues are transformed into imaginative and innovative works of art. Popping up when you least expect them, the works of art will really catch your eye so you have to ‘Look Again’. Seeing really is believing!

Dates: Normally held April/May

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/look-again/

May Festival – the title is not a misnomer, you can certainly expect this festival to occur in May! One of the longest standing events in Aberdeen, the May Festival commenced in 2013 and is centred on one of the city’s renowned higher education institutes – Aberdeen University. Celebrating the world-class research that is consistently being carried out at the university, this festival crosses various disciplines and subsequently is a simultaneous arts and science festival.  Comprising of performances from a wide collection of familiar faces including musicians, authors and chefs, this festival is truly perfect for the whole family with there being over 100 events of all genres to be engaged by across 3 days.

Dates: 27th to  29th May 2016

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/may-festival/

Aberdeen International Youth Festival – as inferred by its name, this festival is truly international in its scale and in its reputation both within the city itself and further beyond on the global stage. Formed forty-two years ago, this festival can now attract over 25,000 performers which only alludes to how well-regarded, popular and prestigious it is. A world-class festival celebrating performance arts and which also prides itself on its intimate chamber and classical music performances; it is bursting at the seams with talent and in 2015 held over 80 performances across the 9 days.

Dates: 29th July to 6th August 2016

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/aiyf/

TechFest – it is not just all about music, drama or visual arts however, Aberdeen even has a dedicated festival to all things technological and numerical. An annual festival where people convene to celebrate four major disciplines, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, this event centres around promoting their attraction in an engaging manner to audience members of all ages.

Dates: 3rd to 18th September 2016

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/techfest/

North East Open Studios – One of the biggest Open Studios events in Scotland, it is more than just a networking opportunity for the artists and designers involved, but is also an excellent opportunity to promote Scottish arts, crafts and galleries and to open their access up to the public. Therefore, be prepared to be introduced to some of the finest talent in Scotland and be inspired by their amazing works in their studios.

Dates:  10th to 18th September 2016.

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/north-east-open-studios/

 

True North – One for all the music lovers out there who are always looking to discover the latest talent, True North is all about celebrating Aberdeen’s very own music scene with concerts aplenty all over the city. Whatever kind of music you love, you are sure to hear it and from some of the up and coming talent as well as well-established acts.

Dates: 23rd to 25th September 2016.

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/true-north/

DanceLive – In its 11th year, the name of this festival says it all with this festival being dedicated to the beautiful world of dance. Specifically focusing on contemporary dance, it is a wondrous opportunity to witness spectacular talent from the dancers and choreographers of national and international companies involved and to bring the world of dance to our corner of the world. Combining both intimate studio encounters and performances held on a larger scale, you are sure to be entranced particularly as the programme has been broadened to even encompass masterclasses and workshops.

Dates:  14th to 25th October 2016.

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/dancelive/

 

Sound – another music festival, but this one focuses more on the discovery of new “sounds” meaning it is all about innovation and new kinds of music that you may never have heard of before. A welcome into a world you may never have expected to enter, you can experience it all across a wide range of concerts and workshops that encompass all unique sounds from acoustic to improvised and experimental. Think you know music – experience “Sound” and really awaken your ears!

Dates: 20th to 6th November 2016

Find out more: https://aberdeenfestivals.com/our-festivals/dancelive/

Although not run by “Aberdeen Festivals”, an honourable mention needs to go to the Energetica festival particularly as the summer season is luring temptingly in front of us. Energetica is a long-term programme centred around developing Scotland’s Energy Corridor in a sustainable and innovative manner and this focus on energy and the environment is mirrored in the programme of events. In its fourth year, this festival focuses on activities which will bring you in harmony with nature including guided walks, wildlife spotting and tours of gardens. Taking place from May to August, most of the activities are free and provide the perfect itinerary for an adventure basking in the glory of nature.

http://energetica.uk.com/festival2016#August

2016: Top 16 Things To Do

It might be a few weeks late but welcome to the brand new world that is 2016! In honour of celebrating this time of new beginnings and new opportunities, we thought we would look at some of the must-do activities and festivities in our respective locations so that we can get your 2016 travel bucket-list rolling.

Aberdeen

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SPECTRA 2015 

http://www.visitaberdeen.com/whats-on/calendar/spectra-aberdeens-festival-of-light/?date=2015-02-19

  1. Footdee – while irrefutably the beach is a prominent attraction in Aberdeen, make sure to explore the idyllic village located by the sea known as Footdee, or more affectionately by the locals, as ‘Fittie’. A well-preserved fishing village, Footdee is truly charming and unique and takes you to times gone by.
  2. Park & Gardens – looking for an oasis of calm among the hustle and bustle of city life? Make sure to discover the parks that have helped Aberdeen win the accolade of “Britain in Bloom” a record breaking number of times. From the tropical winter gardens in Duthie Park that houses the UK’s largest collection of cacti to the fairy tale wonder of Johnstone Gardens complete with bridges and waterfalls, there is plenty of natural beauty to be admired among Aberdeen’s silver exterior.
  3. Dolphin Watch – a little known fact but apparently Aberdeen is one of the prime locations in Europe in which to view dolphins at play in the sea. Therefore, flock to the harbour during the summer months to witness our beautiful friends with fins. There is even a Dolphin Adventure Cruise!
  4. SPECTRA – in collaboration with Scotland’s focus Year of Architecture, Innovation and Design; SPECTRA is Aberdeen’s very own stunning Festival of Light which takes places in Union Terrace Gardens. With international artists and Scottish collaborators engaging in displays and exhibitions that focus on light, sound and interaction; it is perfect for anyone of any age and will truly bring the city to life!

Birmingham

waffles
SPECTRA 2015

http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/lifestyle/food-drink/birmingham-street-food-guide-whos-7607752

  1. Jewellery Quarter – a fan of all things that sparkle and glitter? Well, make sure not to miss the world-renowned Jewellery Quarter which is home to one of the largest concentrations of firms involved in the jewellery trade and has over 200 listed buildings; testament to its rich heritage. Full of culture and history, the Jewellery Quarter is a vivacious trendy urban destination that cannot be missed.
  2. Grand Central – it is undeniable how Birmingham is a prime retail destination and the opening of Grand Central last year only substantiated that reputation. With over 60 premium retailers including the UK’s flagship John Lewis, you could spend one weekend in this shopping centre alone!
  3. Street Food – Birmingham is becoming one of the emerging cities in the UK for serving high quality street food; who needs a formal Michelin experience (although Birmingham offers a tasty abundance of these too!) when you can have convenience and food on the go. There is a weekly street food event on Fridays where you can sample all kinds of tempting treats from burgers to waffles. Make sure your stomach does not miss out!
  4. Music Festivals – As well as an emerging food destination, Birmingham is starting to become a city known on the map for its music festivals. With highlights including the Moseley Folk Festival; the Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival and MADE Birmingham, there is plenty of musical festivities to keep audiences of all kinds singing and dancing away.

Glasgow

celtic-connections
SPECTRA 2015

https://film.list.co.uk/article/15259-gaelic-film-festival-announced-as-part-of-celtic-connections/

  1. Celtic Connections – One of the prime highlights of Glasgow’s winter calendar, Celtic Connections sees over 2,100 musicians descending on the city to engage in one of the most renowned folk, roots and world music festivals. It is a thrilling 18 days full of ceilidhs, art exhibitions and concerts that celebrate Celtic music and its cross-cultural connections – definitely one not to be missed.
  2. Glasgow International – A biennial festival celebrating contemporary art, Glasgow International is globally renowned and cements Glasgow’s reputation as a leading participator in the visual arts. Occurring in various locations across the city, Glasgow International celebrates the best of both local and international contemporary art and is perfect for audiences of all ages and kinds.
  3. Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design – This year sees Scotland celebrate the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design; and where better to celebrate this focus year than in Glasgow – a city renowned for its gorgeous and iconic architecture; primarily courtesy of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. As a result of this focus year, there will be a year-long Festival of Architecture occurring in Glasgow meaning that all throughout the year there will be engaging events to participate in and to really get to know Glasgow.
  4. Glasgow Film Festival – One of the UK’s largest and most established film festivals, Glasgow Film Festival is definitely one not to be missed! With renowned Glasgow venues such as Kelvingrove Art Gallery holding specially themed screenings, it is a film experience like no other.

Edinburgh

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Maison de Moggy 

http://uk.askmen.com/top_10/travel/animal-cafes_3.html

  1. Edinburgh Heritage Food Trail – In collaboration with Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site, the Food Trail devised in 2015 is a new (and tasty!) way of getting to know Edinburgh and its rich history. Covering cooking schools, farmer markets and even the Palace of Holyroodhouse, it is a journey across Edinburgh and back in time like no other.
  2. Edinburgh Festivals – One of the world’s leading festival cities, it is irrefutable that a prime reason to visit in 2016 is to participate in one of the plethora of festivals on offer. From an International Film Festival to festivals celebrating everything from Jazz and Blues to Books to Science, not even counting the summer highlight of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, there is definitely a festival for everyone!
  3. The Real Mary King’s Close – Sometimes all the excitement is not to be found above ground, but below. Take a tour of the hidden streets lurking below the bustling city that have been in existence since the 17th century by tour guides costumed as people from the past; there is no shortage of horror stories to regale.
  4. Cat Café – Scotland’s inaugural cat café, this is the perfect café to visit if you are a fan of furry moggies! Aptly titled, Maison de Moggy, you can eat cakes and have a warm cuppa while in the warm presence of some furry, cuddly friends.

The Month of Mackintosh

Willow Tea Rooms
                                                                                         Willow Tea Rooms

Glasgow is known for many a thing from its dynamic, bustling nightlife to its luscious array of green spaces to the world-renowned warm hospitality offered by its citizens; however what also sets it apart is its exquisite architecture. Barcelona, you can keep your Gaudi as in Glasgow we have our own architectural master known as Charles Rennie Mackintosh. A Scottish-born artist, designer and architect who was an integral influence in the UK Art Nouveau scene, Charles Rennie Mackintosh is remembered as Glasgow’s most famous son and when you see firsthand his architectural masterpieces, there is no doubt as to why his work is much revered and an iconic part of the Glasgow arts scene. The fact that there is a Mackintosh trail is just testament to the mark that Charles Rennie Mackintosh left on his native city.

While Charles Rennie Mackintosh is now internationally renowned around the world as the father of “Glasgow Style”, Glasgow itself did not realise or recognize his talent until after his death in 1928 meaning that although he worked almost exclusively in Glasgow for 20 years, he died predominantly unknown. Attending the Glasgow School of Art, Charles Rennie Mackintosh became part of a group of artists which became globally renowned as “The Four”. Collaborating on designs for things like furniture and illustrations, their imaginative art graphics were known to be some of the most innovative of the time and as a result of their imagination, could be considered relatively unusual and much different from anything else being designed at the time – it was in a world of its own. Although his work did not gain much recognition in his native city to the extent where he departed to live in London, his work was held in much higher regard internationally where countries like Germany and Austria really embraced and admired his pioneering style and he even exhibited in cities like Moscow and Berlin.

Apart from his inventive and original style, what really set Charles Rennie Mackintosh apart was his strong belief that the architect was not just responsible for the exterior of the building, but also for every detail of the interior – rooms were to be a work of art themselves. Consequently, like his architectural style, his furnishings were highly differentiated but still with an elegance and intricacy. While making his work iconic posthumous, it was also for this reason that Charles Rennie Mackintosh was not as greatly respected during his life because many private clients did not have the patience to see his projects through from exterior to interior.

Although Charles Rennie Mackintosh may no longer be with us in person, his work is very much alive and still standing meaning future generations are still able to admire it and be inspired. Read below to discover some of the star attractions on the trail:

Daily Record Building: The former residence of the Daily Record paper up until the late 1930s, the Daily Record Building is often forgotten but is a must-see due to Mackintosh’s ability to bring light and colour into the dimly lit narrow alley.

The Hill House: Once a domestic residence for the famous Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie, this property is now owned by the NTS. This is an example of some of Mackintosh’s most famous interior designs with the pieces still remaining in considerable good condition despite the passing of time. A particular highlight is the inclusion of Mackintosh’s renowned ladder-back chairs as well as the stunning use of decorative glass.

House for an Art Lover: One of Glasgow’s key cultural attractions and a 4 star rated tourism attraction, House for an Art Lover is located just 10 minutes from the city centre. Once an entry for a German competition, Mackintosh’s vision was only fully brought to life in the 1990s and within the attraction you can see the comparison between the original designs and the actual implementation.

The Willow Tea Rooms: Some historical sites cease being used for their purposes in the name of conservation, however The Willow Team Rooms is one of the exceptions to this as to this today it is still serving the purpose for which it was designed – a site in which to enjoy the finest Afternoon Tea. Containing the original doors, windows and mirrors, this is a fan favourite location for local, national and international tourists alike.

The Lighthouse: One of his public commissions, The Lighthouse (which was previously the Glasgow Herald building but is now the Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture) is a must-see on the Mackintosh trail not least because it contains a permanent exhibition to the man himself but also because tours of the building can be taken so you can obtain a real insider view of Mackintosh’s work.

Queen’s Cross Church: As the only church designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, this is definitely a stop for his fans particularly as it is relatively unknown and is therefore a real hidden gem that is located just minutes from the city centre. Now home to the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, there is a host of exhibitions and events held throughout the year and so there is always a reason to visit, if not just to admire the beautiful stained glass.

Mackintosh House: He designed some of Glasgow’s most exquisite buildings, but what about the place he called home? A particular highlight of the Mackintosh trail has to be a visit to the splendid recreation of Mackintosh’s home within The Hunterian which contains interiors designed by Mackintosh itself. The recreation considered even the smallest details such as the use of natural light and is a marvellous insight into how Glasgow’s famous son lived.

The Glasgow School of Art: Of course, there is no denying that the star attraction of the trail has be Mackintosh’s master work which was The Glasgow School of Art – his greatest architectural work. Although partly tragically damaged in a fire in 2014, much remains to be explored with award-winning tours being taken that reflect Mackintosh’s journey from student to architecture extraordinaire as well as an permanent visitor centre. Also including the brand new Mackintosh Furniture Gallery, there is no better place to really understand Mackintosh’s inspiration and life.

While a Mackintosh style tour of Glasgow is always an attractive option regardless of the time of year, there is no month better than October because as well as being the month known for giving us an extra hour in bed and many a scare on the 31st, it is also the month of the Mackintosh Festival! The Mackintosh Festival is a month-long celebration of the life and works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the celebrations encompass exhibitions, events and tours meaning there is something for everyone whether you are a Mackintosh connoisseur or just looking for a family day trip. For full details of all the excitement taking place see here: http://www.glasgowmackintosh.com/festival.

Therefore, with the October holidays still in full swing, there could not be a better time to visit our apartments in Glasgow this month!

Sources:

http://www.glasgowmackintosh.com/ 

https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/things-to-do/mackintosh

http://www.gsa.ac.uk/visit-gsa/mackintosh-building-tours/charles-rennie-mackintosh/

http://www.crmsociety.com/aboutmackintosh.aspx

Image:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willow_Tearooms

Summer in the City: Aberdeen Summer Spotlight

If there is anything that differentiates our favourite Silver City from our other city destinations (apart from its glittering granite skyline!), it is most certainly its proximity to the beach. The city certainly meets the coast in Aberdeen and it therefore makes for the ultimate summer experience as what vacation is complete without the treading on warm sand, the collection of unique shells and the satisfying fulfilment of a seaside fish and chip run? You can do it all and more in Aberdeen as with its cinema complex, arcades, amusement fair and leisure centre, there is no end to all the fun that can be had! Similarly, factor in the plethora of lush golf courses and the picturesque parks that have enabled Aberdeen to win the accolade of Britain in Bloom a record-breaking number of times, and it is readily apparent how Aberdeen is certainly a city where you can bask in the summer joy. However, read on to find out all about the extra fun that is happening in the North-East this summer!

Aberdeen Beach
Aberdeen Beach

Image Source: http://www.visitscotland.com/about/nature-geography/beaches/aberdeen-city-and-shire/

RSPB Dolphin Watch (Thursday 16th April 2015-Thursday 16th August 2015)

Perhaps the biggest draw to Aberdeen this lovely sunny season are our favourite new residents: dolphins! Due to Aberdeen being one of the best places in Europe to watch these magnificent animals at home in the sea, it is no wonder it is fast becoming a prime dolphin watching spot. Often frolicking near the harbour, it is not uncommon to witness the dolphins feeding & playing-truly a sight not to be missed.

http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/seenature/datewithnature/details.aspx?id=340366

Netherlands National Circus (Thursday 23rd July 2015-Sunday 9th August 2015)

Tricks, flicks and magic, you will witness all kinds of unbelievable entertainment that will have you teetering on the edge of your seat. Complete with juggling and illusions, it is certainly a two-hour show that will keep your family entertained and gasping in wonder.

https://www.netherlandscircus.com/

Zippos Circus (Friday 24th July 2015-Sunday 26th July 2015)

If you cannot get enough of the circus season, make sure to check out Zippos Circus in Stonehaven. Boasting awe-inspiring attractions like the motorcycle Globe of Terror alongside crazy balancing and juggling acts, it will be an absolutely captivating experience and certainly one to have the whole family entranced.

http://zippos.co.uk/wp/

Aberdeen International Youth Festival (Friday 24th July 2015-Saturday 1st August 2015)

An event that is always eagerly anticipated, there is no denying the fact that the Aberdeen International Youth Festival is the pinnacle of Aberdeen’s cultural scene. One of the world’s biggest youth festivals, there is nothing that can quite compare with the energy and vitality undulating throughout the city as all genres of performance arts from opera to dance to theatre occur in all manner of public spaces as performed by extremely talented youngsters who come from all corners of the world to attend this illustrious event. Prepare to be entertained and enlightened at this cultural extravaganza which is filled with all kinds of vibrant colours, sounds and talent!

http://www.aiyf.org/

Aberdeen International Youth Festival
Aberdeen International Youth Festival

Image Source: http://www.embracescotland.co.uk/2011/06/aberdeen-international-youth-festival-wednesday-july-27-to-saturday-august-6/

Aberdeen Country Fairs (Saturday 25th July 2015)

Celebrating local community and produce, the country fair is the perfect chance to engage with the producers themselves and to purchase from a wide array of unique arts, jewellery, crafts and foods. Running the length of Belmont Street, it is refreshing to have a country edge in the bustling city.

Celebrate Aberdeen (Saturday 22ndAugust 2015-Sunday 23rd August 2015)

Pride will not be any more evident than on this weekend which through a parade, live music acts and food, celebrates the best of the Silver City and its people. Lasting two days, the buzzing atmosphere and community love certainly lights up the city and makes the streets feel alive.

http://www.celebrateaberdeen.org/

Aberdeen International Street Market (Thursday 27th August 2015-Sunday 30th August 2015)

The highlight of Union Street, the International Street Market is always an event to look forward to as it welcomes over 70 stalls full of arts, crafts and cuisine from a whole spectrum of European countries. Truly an international event, it is undeniable the buzz and cultural spirt it generates across the city.

https://www.facebook.com/aberdeenmarket

Aberdeen International Street Market
Aberdeen International Street Market

Image Source: http://www.visitaberdeen.com/whats-on/calendar/aberdeens-international-street-market/?date=2013-05-31

Aberdeen Art Fair 2015 (Saturday 5thSeptember 2015-Sunday 6th September 2015) 

For those who are always seeking the perfect piece of art to complete that room, attending the fifth annual Aberdeen Art Fair is a definite must; particularly as it showcases some of the emerging names in the art world alongside established artists. Across the two days, you are able to both admire and purchase some of the most unique pieces that have been created by artistic masterminds from both Scotland and the UK. Therefore, whether you attend just to appreciate the talent and skill on offer or to make an investment and add to your collection, the fair welcomes all.

http://aberdeenartfair.co.uk/

To keep up with all the latest events occurring in Aberdeen over the summer, make sure to go to: http://www.visitaberdeen.com/whats-on/