Who said No Pets Allowed?

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When you go on holiday there are so many logistics involved beyond where to go, with whom and when, you also have to consider the practicalities regarding your home in terms of ‘who should I leave the spare keys with?’ or ‘who is going to check our mail?’. Some of these practicalities are easy to organise however some require a little bit more thought, and even come at an expense. This is because it might not just be the house you are leaving behind, but also potentially your most loyal sidekick and family member – your pet. Whether you are going away for as little as one night or even for a more extended period, one of the most complex and guilt-ridden issues is ‘but what do we do with the pets?’. Organizing pet care is never easy and it is always likely to come at a high cost; particularly as you are undeniably going to want to leave your beloved furry pal in the most loving and safest of hands. While there is a rise in the number of exclusive, five-star pet only resorts where all furry residents are truly pampered from exercise classes to designated ‘cuddling sessions’, we present an alternative which may be slightly cheaper than those minimum $60 per night fees and which entails no separation whatsoever.

When it comes to traditional accommodation such as hotels, it is often not even an option to bring your pets with you – particularly your affable, bouncing pooch. This is particularly dangerous if you have to move away for a considerable long period of time such as if you are relocating because who wants to be without those warm furry hugs for so long? Therefore, options such as dog-sitters or a stay in a kennel rise to prominence although anyone with dogs knows the pain and guilt that is involved with leaving your pets behind in a foreign place with unfamiliar room-mates. However, at The Spires we are all about creating that home away from home feel, and nothing helps create that quite like inviting your beloved furry friends along with you because after all, dog is man’s best friend!

Consequently, that is why at our Aberdeen apartments we do not want to tear the family apart and subsequently offer the opportunity for you to bring your four-legged friends with you. While we do charge an additional non-refundable £100 surcharge for deep-cleaning purposes (we all know how fur has that amazing ability to spread itself everywhere), this pales in comparison to the cost incurred by hiring out pet-friendly care – particularly for prolonged periods of time. Likewise, knowing that you are able to bring your favourite furry partner in crime with you just saves on so much of the stress and time associated with looking at alternative options. Other requirements involve the signing of a pet disclaimer; the abidance by The Spires’ pet policy as well as The Spires’ pre-approval prior to your stay. However, we will guide you through every step of the way and so it could not be easier to have a pet-vacation this year with The Spires in Aberdeen saving on the costs; guilt and emptiness associated with leaving your pets behind. With our apartments being located in a quiet, residential area, this also means that your four-footed pal will enjoy their many naps uninterrupted and that they can enjoy tranquil walks along idyllic streets when the time comes for their favourite ‘walkie’.

However, while the summer holidays are coming to a sad close that does not mean that summer itself is over. While, Scotland is not necessarily renowned for its blistering heat, that does not mean that tourists have never been caught out unaware by those crafty sun rays. Therefore, while you are packing all kinds of holiday necessities from travel sized shampoos/shower gels to sunscreen aplenty, have you spared a thought of what to pack to keep your pooch travelling it up in style too? As we have already mentioned, pet travel is really picking up in the UK and with that is a whole new market of goods you could never imagine. Therefore, while our apartments have easily adjustable settings for you to control the temperature the way you like, do not forget to pick some of these top pet travel accessories to help keep your pet from toasting too much under that warm fur. From sunscreen wipes, iced treats, cooling vests/mats to water fountains and freezer-friendly water bowls, we bet you never knew you might require a whole other suitcase or packing list just for Fido!

Therefore, to book you and your furry best pal into The Spires just make sure to email us at info@thespires.co.uk or phone 0345 270 0090.

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See the sights, smell the roses… and catch the Pokémon?

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Image: http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/news/pokemon-go-gaming-gone-mobile

Trends, fashions and fads come and go, and it is clear which one is here to stay for summer 2016 – Pokémon Go. Yes, unless you have somehow managed to miss the numerous social media postings dedicated to the latest trend (borderline phenomenon) seizing not only a nation, but the whole world, or have been spared the incident of bumping into someone actively engaging in a little Pokémon hunting on the street, it is clear that there is nothing more all the rage this summer. Normally mobile phone apps and games are associated as taking the human population to whole new levels of anti-socialness; however Pokéman Go seems to be having a miracle effect which is counteracting this magnetic force. Yes, we are still besotted with man’s new best friend, the mobile phone, but now it is encouraging us to voluntarily enter into the light and freshness of the great outdoors and explore. Such is the power of the Pokémon Go because with the augmented virtual reality app projecting images of everyone’s favourite childhood anime onto city landmarks so it looks like they are really there on your mobile screen, people are going out in their droves to partake in a nostalgic game of Pokémon hunting because the only way to catch them all, is to actively explore the surrounding environment – sitting on the couch will get you nowhere. Of course you also have the assistance of GPS technology on your smart phone to help lead the way also.  Pokémon Go is a truly global craze with it having captivated the eyes of citizens spanning 35 countries and becoming more addictive than those little known apps of Facebook and Whatsapp.

With the UK basking in the glorious freedom of the summer holidays and even enjoying a little bit of tropical summer sunshine, Pokémon Go has come at the best possible time. It is the optimum season to explore a new city and what better way to see it than with a fun interactive activity which will keep all members of the family, whether it is the young or the young at heart, engaged and excited. Already players have remarked how it has taken them to parts of the city they had never thought they would venture; likewise it is helping them to connect with other players and to forge social bonds. Fortunately, with apartments in four major UK cities, wherever you stay with us you are right in the heart of some of the UK’s best Pokémon hunting grounds. Therefore, discover all about the Pokémon Go hype in some of our favourite UK vacation spots and be inspired to come visit us and explore our new cities from a new perspective.

Aberdeen

A legion of unique Pokémon characters have finally invaded the Silver City with even some rare ones also to be found. Of course, it is irrefutable that Pokémon would be hiding in the most dynamic and buzzing part of the city – the city centre. Therefore, when you are hitting up Union Street, make sure to take an extra few moments outside the prime shopping area of St. Nicholas Centre as three “Pokestops” are rumoured to be found there. Likewise, if you wanting to view some of the amazing talent on stage at the Music Hall or His Majesty’s Theatre, you might be able to see more than real famous faces, but also some virtual Pokémon ones too. The beauty of Pokémon Go is also that you do not necessary know where you will find the Pokémon, this is why you can venture all across the city in the hopes of finding one and engaging in a little bit of sightseeing and social interaction along the way. Therefore, the app has had people exploring the beautiful length of Aberdeen’s stunning sandy beach; various churches and it has even seen them take day trips to Stonehaven because those little Pokémon sure get everywhere! With Pokémon being rumoured to be located at all kinds of Aberdeen attraction hot spots from the beach to the fishing community of Fittie to tranquil public areas like Seaton Park, it is clear that Pokémon Go could be the perfect activity that will allow you to become acquainted with the sparkling silver exterior of the renowned Granite City.

Birmingham

Known as Britain’s “Second City”, it is of little surprise that the exciting metropolis of Birmingham is absolutely teeming with Pokémon waiting to be discovered. Pokémon mania has even swept the citizens of Birmingham so much that an organised mass Pokémon Go walk was devised that was held on Saturday 23rd July, reflecting the comradery that the virtual app is creating – up to 1,000 walkers were expected. Rumoured Pokémon hotspots include the Jewellery Quarter, St. Paul’s Square and of course along the sides of Birmingham’s vast canal system. They can even be hunted down within the walls of iconic Birmingham attractions including the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, so it is not just art that can be found and admired! Likewise, if you are hitting up the bargains and the temptation of Grand Central shopping centre, you may find more than just good deals. Therefore, from sightseeing to shopping and even to eating, Pokémon Go may be the perfect addictive activity that will allow you to fully explore one of Britain’s most famous metropolises.

Glasgow

pokemon glasgow

http://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glasgow-news/ultimate-guide-pokemon-go-glasgow-11614786

Priding itself for the warmth and friendliness of its citizens, it is no wonder that Pokémon would feel welcome along the dynamic and effervescent streets of Glasgow. With its renowned reputation for its nature scene and its abundance of parks, it is no surprise that many Pokémon have been rumoured to be hiding among the shrubbery such as at Glasgow Green. However, while hiding in parks or even by the Clydeside, they are also of course hitting up popular city central locations from the likes of the Duke of Wellington statue (the one famous for having an ever-present traffic cone residing on its head), George Square, Kelvingrove Museum and even within the haunting beauty of the Victorian cemetery; the Necropolis. Likewise, other rumoured hotspots include the Finnieston Crane as well as the Armadillo and the Hydro which means you may get a dual batch of entertainment if you are stopping by the check out the latest musical talent on stage.

Edinburgh

pokemon go aberdeen

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1omOow1m09QBs1-UVcJ89wSnRI-g&hl=en_US

Of course there is no city in Scotland that Pokémon could desire to infiltrate more than the cobbled historic streets of Scotland’s stunning and animated capital. With some of the most iconic attractions and streets in the nation, it is irrefutable that a couple of Pokémon would want to pop up at these stops. Therefore, it may be of no surprise that if you want to engage in a little bit of Pokémon hunting, than prime locations such as the Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street Gardens, Leith Docks, Edinburgh Zoo and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art certainly pave the way for victory. These are attractions that you would want to visit anyway but doing it under the guise of Pokémon hunting, also gives it that added extra bit of fun. Likewise, it may also bring you to attractions you had never considered previously such as Lochend Park or St. Margaret’s Well which is a well that has been in existence since 1362 and therefore possesses its own unique level of historical value. The hype of Pokémon Go mania in Edinburgh has even reached such a level that local taxi drivers are offering Pokémon Go tours, so if you are feeling a little tired and want a crafty (albeit pricy!) way of viewing the city, this could be the alternative as the route set out claims to stop at 50 “Pokestops” in 20 minutes.

So there you have it, if are really getting swept up in the phenomenon that has captured the nation and their phones, how about a Pokémon Go tour with The Spires? With apartments right in the city centre of these 4 active Pokémon spots, you could not be any closer to all the excitement and hype. While we cannot guarantee that the little monsters will be found under the beds in our apartments, you are bound to find some lurking not too far away whether they are in attractions, parks, restaurants or even transport spots. Therefore, let us know how many you catch and share with us any top tips – maybe we will try and engage in some Pokémon hunting of our own!

“Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside…”

 

 

Nothing epitomises the summer season quite like the visual imagery of soft golden shores; the calming crush of the waves and a cooling ice-cream in one hand. However, you do not have to go somewhere very tropical and exotic to experience this as while the weather can sometimes taint the imagery, Scotland is still home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Aberdeen’s own beach is no exception to this and provides the perfect oasis of tranquility away from the bustling city streets. Whether you want to enjoy a walk close to nature or to engage in some childlike fun, Aberdeen’s beach provides it all and in our latest blog we document all the wonders and entertainment that the beach offers; making for the perfect family weekend when you stay in our serviced apartments:

Codonas Family Amusement Park – a staple part of Aberdonian childhood, there is no resident who has not experienced the thrills and excitement of this family owned amusement park. Hosting everything including an exhilarating rollercoaster; the splash-zone fun of the log flume; the crazy dizziness of the Waltzers and a good ole pirate ship, the amusement park offers every popular ride synonymous with a day at the fair.  Dominating over it all is the Grampian Eye, a massive wheel offering panoramic views of the city – it is definitely the best seat in the house!

Sunset Boulevard – all the excitement is not just found outside however. Therefore, if you are unfortunately at Aberdeen on an off day, there is still plenty of fun to be had at Sunset Boulevard complete with its offering of an inside play park; old-school amusement arcade games and everyone’s favourite rambunctious dodgems to get the heart-rate going. Therefore, make sure you are stocked up on some pennies so as to have the chance to win candy or cuddly toys galore – the perfect mementos of a family trip by the sea. Likewise, if you are looking to engage in a little bit of friendly competition, the bowling alley complete with numerous lanes is the perfect place to see who the leader in the bowling world is.

Adventure Golf – just when you think the beach is not offering enough excitement and thrills, you can further the competitive spirit with a round or two of Adventure Golf. Whether you want to pretend you are a pirate on an exotic island or if you want to traverse through some tropical jungle scenery, there are two different themes differentiating the beach’s adventure golf offering. With both indoor and outdoor courses, it is the perfect activity whatever the weather and perfect for demonstrating who has the potential to be the next Rory Mcllroy.

Water Activities – while so much fun can be found on the soft golden shores collecting pebbles or building sandcastles, there is nothing quite as refreshing as a dip in the North Sea – particularly for the braver among us. In particular, Granite Reef Surf School offers a surf school every weekend so whether you are a novice or consider yourself to be up there with the surfing champs, it caters to all abilities. Also, fear not, you are provided with a wetsuit for those apprehensive about the ‘refreshing’ chill of the North Sea.

Leisure Centre and Ice Rink – not feeling confident enough to brave the infamous chill of the North Sea? Fear not, there is still plenty of opportunity to have fun in the water at the Queen’s Link Leisure Centre offering all kinds of watery thrills includes waves, rapids and four adrenaline-pumping flumes. While still warmer than the North Sea, there is a sauna for additional warmth and relaxation as well as gym equipment for those wanting to give their heart a workout.

However, if you prefer your water frozen, then the ice rink also offers the perfect opportunity for some family fun – as well as a few tumbles!

Dolphins – It is nearly impossible to find someone who cannot be charmed by the pure innocence and beauty of dolphins at play in their natural habitat and with DolphinWatch (31st March to 14th August 2016), you can do just that. With particularly stellar views from the Torry Battery, you can discover stunning panoramic views of the harbour while having RSPB staff to help provide you with information, telescopes and binoculars on Thursdays through Sundays. For some of the best views in Europe of our favourite friends with fins, make sure to check out DolphinWatch when you stay with us – particularly as there are special event weekends.

Balmedie Beach – Of course while there are activities in abundance to engage in, nothing quite beats a tranquil walk along the soft sandy shores to admire the views and to hear the powerful crash of the waves. With cafes and stores lining the promenade selling all kinds of tempting goodies including ice cream or fish and chips to munch on and to complete the seaside sensory experience, it really is the perfect place to stop and bask in the glory of coastal nature. If you want to explore a little further, the award-winning Balmedie Country Park provides the perfect natural beach experience with sand dunes aplenty.

Footdee – while Aberdeen is unmistakably ablaze with city life, you can experience a slightly different perspective of the city by visiting the old fishing village of Footdee, known fondly by the locals as “fittie”. Located at the end of the harbour, Footdee is comprised of two areas of picturesque and idyllic fishing cottages built in two squares. Awash with charm, vibrant colours and well-maintained gardens, Footdee is definitely worth a visit to see where the fishermen used to live and to hide temporarily away from the animation of city life in scenic surroundings.

Sold on a nostalgic family trip to the seaside during the summer months? Our apartments are located only 20 minutes away from the city centre with strong transport links meaning it could not be any easier to spend your weekend hearing the crash of the waves and breathing in the fresh salty air. Book online at www.thespires.co.uk or phone 0845 270 0090 to book your trip today.

 

Images: http://travelbrochures.org/top-8-places-to-visit-in-aberdeen/

Balmedie Beach (3)

http://www.quirkyguide.com/place/footdee-scotland

http://www.codonas.com

 

 

Let the Summer of Events Begin!

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Image: http://www.fabulousferns.com/graduation/

Alas the time for throwing caps or confetti in the air is nearing as we approach one of the busiest events season after Christmas: summer. With the sun hopefully making a glorious appearance, it is the time for all manner of exciting fun and celebrations with the jubilant spirit rising high due to an influx of graduations, prize-givings, weddings and just the general vibrancy of the summer spirit. Yes, alongside the refreshing taste of poolside cocktails or that nostalgic smell of sunlotion, other senses that characterise the glorious summer festivities include rapturous audience applause, the sights of black mortar boards flying through the air and the sequins, sparkles and lace embellishing an array of specially bought outfits.  Synonymous with these events are family and friends because who better to celebrate these momentous occasions with than with your nearest and dearest?! However, for those of us with the slightly more extended families, we all know the struggle and expense of trying to accommodate everyone in alternative options such as hotels, or in enduring the stress and strain of having everyone located under the one roof. Therefore, we have the perfect solution to keep the celebrations just as joyous and jubilant as they should be – serviced apartments.

Capable of holding up to six persons, serviced apartments are perfect when you need to accommodate family members of all sizes and ages. There is nothing worse than the feeling of booking family somewhere impersonal to stay, however complete with modern, fully-equipped kitchens and lounges, our apartments have the perfect home from home feel. Therefore, instead of having everyone cramped under the one roof, fighting over kitchen utensils, the remote and most importantly, the bathroom, you can have them stay in their own apartment where they can even have up to two-bathrooms. Likewise, there is no one having to stay on uncomfortable and unreliable air mattresses or on the lumpy couch, because our de-luxe apartments can hold up to six persons and can include two bedrooms complete with either double or twin beds. Available with cots and high-chairs on requests, our apartments can truly enable anyone to stay so whether it is young or older family members, all are more than welcome!

Being located in major city destinations such as Aberdeen, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh which are renowned for their multitudes of stunning event backdrops or their prestigious educational institutes, it is undeniable that they are right in the centre of the events season. Therefore, with our apartments being conveniently located right in the city centres and our Aberdeen location in particular having its own car park, you do not have to worry about them struggling to make their way to the venue as they are surrounded by all the transport links they could need. This also means your family and friends can make the most of their stay by experiencing all the action on the doorstep, whether that is the dynamic food, attractions and sights that typify our locations, because why just come for the one day – make it into a cheeky city break.

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Although located in major bustling city destinations, the high prices often associated with that can be negated as serviced apartments are a cost-effective alternative. As mentioned, our apartments are capable of holding up to six persons and therefore as you pay per apartment, and not per person, you can make significant cost-savings while having increased space over traditional options. It is a win-win situation all around! Likewise, further savings can be made when you consider how our apartments include a fully-equipped kitchen as well as washing machines and tumble-dryers meaning that if any last-minute outfit mishaps occur, our apartments are adorned with the necessary equipment to handle it without reverting to expensive laundry services. Moreover, if any of your friends or family have any unique dietary requirements, they can satisfy these requirements and save money by shrimping on restaurant bills and making their own meals.

Weddings, graduations and prize-givings – you want to remember them for the right reasons; not for arduous stress and drama. Therefore, to ensure the ultimate special occasion which lives on in the memory and heart, make sure to book at www.thespires.co.uk

*Disclaimer: in order to enable maximum comfort and to provide the perfect night’s sleep for all our guests, parties or large gatherings are strictly prohibited under our policy

Get into the Festival Spirit

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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

Castle Crazy

Scotland’s Silver City is known for many things: its beautiful parks that have culminated in it winning numerous “Britain in Bloom” accolades; the tranquility and the fun that its sandy shores provide and a cosmopolitan collection of the biggest shopping and dining brands. However, whether you come to see the nature, the beach, the entertainment of a bustling city or even the glittering granite skyline, there is something else that you can see in particular abundance – castles. We are not just talking about a handful of castles, but over 300 and that is because Aberdeen is fortunate enough to be located on the outskirts of Scotland’s Castle Country. As the title alludes to, if you want to find castles, then you are certainly in the right place as Castle Country has more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK. Consequently, whatever shape, size or colour you like your castles in – you are certainly going to find one that fits the bill!

Therefore, if you are staying with us in our Aberdeen apartments and are looking for a fun day trip full of majesty and rich heritage, make sure to check out Scotland’s dedicated “Castle Trail”. Consisting of 17 castles ranging from dramatic ruins to fairy-tale enchantment, there are so many wonders to explore and many are only an hour or so drive away from Aberdeen. For details of all the 17, make sure to check out http://www.visitaberdeen.com/assets/castletrail.pdf to get your Castle itinerary sorted. However, to give you a taster of all the fun that lies ahead, read on below to find out some of our personal favourites.

  1. Balmoral Castle

When talking about castles in Aberdeenshire, there is certainly one that can never be missed out – Balmoral Castle. Castles tend to have associations with royalty and that is certainly the case with Balmoral Castle because if it being located in Royal Deeside was not a big enough indicator, it is the much beloved holiday home of the royal family and this goes all the way back to Queen Victoria’s time who was actually the monarch to purchase the castle as she loved it so much after visiting it on a romantic break. However, the castle you are seeing today is not actually the original because Queen Victoria had it knocked down and then rebuilt – when you are a Queen, you are able to wield that level of power!

Apart from the royal connection, it is a stunning castle to view in its own right with the majestic grounds and the illustrious ballroom being particular highlights to look out for alongside the special exhibits. Due to the grounds and architecture being particularly well maintained and preserved – it is clear that it will stand the test of time and will be enjoyed for generations to come.

  1. Crathes Castle

Complete with the magic of turrets, towers, wielding staircases and gorgeous grounds, this 16th century tower house has all the enchanting features you associate with majestic castles. Complete with the finest and the most elegant decoration on the inside, particularly keep an eye out (or up!) for the lavishly painted ceilings,  there is also so much more on the outside to explore with over 200 acres of quintessential British woodland and countryside to roam. Between the aesthetic beauty and the sweet-smelling aroma of the luscious rose gardens, this is a castle to hit all the senses. Likewise, it is perfect for all the family with a children adventure’s playpark and most importantly of all, the ultimate UK tree-top adventure: Go Ape!.

  1. Dunnottar Castle

Some of us like our castles in a form that is akin to the splendour of those found in Disney movies, however some of us like them a little bit more dramatic – if so, Dunnottar Castle is the one for you. Exhibiting magnificence in a slightly different form, there is nothing quite like the indomitable, breath-taking cliff-side location of Dunnottar Castle which is rumoured to be one of Scotland’s most impressive ruined castles. Surrounded by the ominous North Sea, this ancient and wonderfully gloomy castle conveys the rich stores of its past. With famous historical figures such as William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots having visited the castle, this is certainly a castle for all the history buffs out there particularly as it was the infamous sight where a small garrison held out against Cromwell’s army for eight months and subsequently saved the Crown Jewels. Likewise, even movie fanatics will be particularly taken by this castle because as it tells the stories that are akin to those only found in the movies, it is no surprise that it has actually been featured as the landscape to many a feature film due to its cinematographic wonder. Therefore if you are wondering why the castle may seem so familiar, that is potentially because you have seen it showcased in movies including Hamlet featuring Mel Gibson as well as Victor Frankenstein (it was even partly inspiration for Disney’s Brave!).

  1. Cragievar Castle

However, for those fonder of the traditional castle type which emanates an ethereal and enchanting atmosphere, look no further than Cragievar Castle. A charming seven-storey castle, what particularly makes this castle stand out is its luminous and iconic pink coloured exterior – certainly one for those little girls who dream of being a princess. If you feel a little bit of magic in the air then it would not be surprising because Walt Disney was so taken by the castle, it is supposedly what inspired his pioneering imaginative spirit to conjure the renowned castle motif associated with the Disney brand. Still home to family portraits and ornate ceilings, the castle retains many of the treasures collected by the Forbes family across their 350 year residence there and it is that family atmosphere that really gives the castle that unique and welcoming spirit.

  1. Castle Fraser

Located only a convenient 16 miles from Aberdeen, if you are looking for splendour and grandness there is no castle that quite fills the brief like Castle Fraser which is one of Scotland’s most impressive baronial tower houses. Dating back to the 15th century, Castle Fraser is really orientated around the stories of its lairds and thus is rooted in Scottish history dating from the medieval and Victorian times. Particular highlights include the atmospheric simplicity of the Great Hall as well as the stunning panoramic views that are afforded from the round tower.

Fancying paying a visit to one, two or more of these castles? Of course! Well about challenging yourself and seeing how many you can visit in one day, or alternatively, how about a holiday dedicated to exploring the riches, treasures and captivating stories of these properties? With each of these castles offering something different, you can never explore too many – just make sure to check the opening times of the castles because they are subject to seasonal operating hours.

Images: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balmoral_Castle

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

http://www.castlexplorer.co.uk/scotland/fraser/fraser.html

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

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/alford/craigievar/

Welcome To Royal Deeside

Balmoral (36)

When people come to visit the UK, it is often due to the desire of exploring the rich historic tapestry that is often associated with the country. Indeed people want to explore the scenic landscape and its historical landmarks that tell the enlightening stories of times long gone. Moreover, it is not just the stories of the past they crave, but also those that interweave tales that involve the monarchy and royalty because after all, who does not wonder what it would be like to to be a majestic ruler? Therefore, it is no surprise that iconic Great British landmarks are comprised of renowned attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile and Buckingham Palace which are steeped in history with a royal glow. However, when people think of cities like Aberdeen, more often than not they have associations of a corporate destination, as opposed to a place where they could visit for leisure purposes. While Aberdeen is prime business territory, it is clear that it offers much more than that and while The Spires is located only minutes away from the bustling city centre complete with shops and restaurants, it is also important to consider what lies in the other direction – Royal Deeside.

So you may be asking, what makes Deeside so royal? Well, it is the royalty, Queen Victoria in particular, that has made the area so renowned due to it being a popular holiday destination with them both in the long ago Victorian times and even today with Queen Elizabeth. The phrase, “royal seal of approval” certainly applies in this context! A particular royal landmark that particularly cannot go without being missed is the Balmoral Castle seeing as Prince Albert built Balmoral Castle particularly as a retreat for himself and Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria was such a fan of the area, she bought land there and even famously proclaimed “Every year my heart becomes more fixed on this dear paradise“. As a regular holiday destination for the royal family, Royal Deeside is unmistakeably a prime visiting spot for any Royal fanatic. A particular sign of interest to look out for on a trail across the towns and villages that comprise Royal Deeside is the Royal Warrants which symbolises the businesses that are a supplier to the Queen’s household – Ballater in particular is a favourite with businesses from butchers and garages being fortunate enough to have the Warrant bestowed upon them.

A particular highlight of Royal Deeside includes the “Victorian Heritage Trail” which has been a tourist favourite for over 150 years and is where you can even walk in the footsteps of the royalty. Along this trail you will encounter all kinds of quaint, charming and scenic villages and towns such as Banchory, Ballater and Braemar which are in stark contrast to be the fast-paced city life of Aberdeen. Braemar in particular is renowned for its Highland Gathering which is known to be one of Scotland’s best and is a major tourist draw – potentially as it remains a royal favourite.

The other element that makes Royal Deeside so iconic is its absolutely stunning landscape which provides the perfect backdrop for all kinds of activity in nature from walking to cycling to skiing to just pure wildlife watching – it is a tranquil haven away from the bustling streets of the city. While Aberdeen is marked for its sparkling granite skyline, Royal Deeside is renowned for the diversity of its nature and the enchanting atmosphere – from mysterious forests to the gentle tinkle of crystal clear rivers to dramatic mountain faces. Every corner is undeniably a photo opportunity and a chance to escape reality!

From castles including Balmoral, Crathes and Braemar to distilleries to heritage centres, there is so much to found and enjoyed in Royal Deeside whether you are travelling by yourself or with the family. Therefore, when you come to stay with us in Aberdeen, do not feel restricted by the city boundaries – there is so much more to be found on a day trip out of the city; particularly with The Spires sitting at the entrance to Royal Deeside.

To learn more: http://www.visitaberdeen.com/royal-deeside/

                                http://visitroyaldeeside.com/

Image: http://www.lifeofpottering.co.uk/2015/05/the-cairngorms-balmoral-castle.html