This February, to help celebrate Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, RSPB Scotland is teaming up with SPECTRA – Aberdeen’s Festival of Light. Sadie Gorvett, Dolphinwatch Community Engagement Officer, tells us more.

Aberdeen's SPECTRA Festival celebrates Scotland's coasts and waters

As part of this year’s DolphinFest in Aberdeen, we are involved in a number of events in the lead up to the actual Festival in April.

The largest and, for me, the most exciting of these is SPECTRA.

People not from the north-east of Scotland might not be familiar with this spectacular Festival of Light that has been running since 2014 and is an early outrider in Aberdeen’s packed festival schedule.

The Festival of Light is an extraordinary experience drawing tens of thousands of visitors from across the local area into the city.

With this year being Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, the theme is decidedly marine in its focus with the artists exploring these vital elements of our landscape. From the creatures that live in the deep and the migrating birds that link our coasts to those around the world to the geometry and patterns in waves and the sea and our role in navigating those waters to open routes connecting Scotland with the world.

It promises to be a stunning event with rumours of giant tentacles draped over buildings, dance performances and inflatable marine creatures including a giant squid.

empty building with art installation depicting large purple tentacles coming out of it

When the opportunity to co-commission a projection came along, we jumped at the chance to help showcase the north-east’s amazing marine wildlife and to use art to help people connect with nature. And we cannot wait to see the finished piece.

SPECTRA will be lighting up the dark winter nights from 6.30 -10 pm on Thursday 13 February through until Sunday 16 February 2020. Various locations across the Granite City will host the outdoor light artworks involving interactive sculptures, architectural projections and experimental music. No tickets are required, and it is free to attend thanks to funding and support from many partners and organisations.

As part of the festival, RSPB Scotland will have a stall in the Festival Hub at Marischal Square on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. Along with information about dolphins, we’ll have a Guess Who game, marine mammal bones to investigate and a large dolphin banner for people to help colour in. We hope to display the banner during DolphinFest in April.

blue ethereal projections of seabirds

The projection itself, that film director Kate Charter is producing in association with Double Take projections using footage of local marine wildlife around Aberdeen and underwater footage provided by the University of Aberdeen, will be on the walls of the ONE Tech Hub, just a few hundred metres along Schoolhill towards the Art Gallery.

In addition, over the festival weekend, we will be holding two events during the day to complement the festival programme:

  • A pop-up Dolphinwatch viewing event with family activities on the Saturday (15 February) at Torry Battery from 11 am until 3 pm to help people spot the wild bottlenose dolphins that are regularly seen in Aberdeen and learn more about them.
  • A beach clean on Sunday 16 February from 10.30 am – 12 pm to help people take action to tackle one of the threats to marine wildlife. Meet at Torry Battery. All litter-picking equipment will be provided, but please dress appropriately for wild winter weather. We will also have binoculars on hand for some dolphin spotting if they are around.

For more information about SPECTRA visit, find them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter and Instagram

pencil drawing showing a dolphin and dates of dolphinfest (April 15 - 19 2020)


DolphinFest itself is happening from 15-19 April, thanks to funding from EventScotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters event fund. It will include a range of events hosted by organisations, local businesses and charities all aimed at showcasing and celebrating the amazing marine environment and wildlife of the area and inspiring people to take action to protect it. 

We are still putting the final touches to the programme and hope to launch it in early March, but already confirmed are a special launch event on Wednesday 15 April in the city centre, CBeebies presenter Rory Crawford storytelling at Aberdeen Central Library, spoken word events, wildlife walks and a dolphin-themed ceilidh with Clachan Yell.

In addition, a day of activities at Torry Battery will help connect people with the marine environment, a city-wide clean up and sustainability events will help people take action to protect nature and a day of family fun at Duthie Park with speakers, performances and games including an escape room will celebrate local marine wildlife and inspire people to protect it.

And Dolphinwatch viewing will take place throughout the weekend of DolphinFest too, with staff and volunteers at Torry Battery to help visitors view and learn about the bottlenose dolphins that call the North Sea their home.

There will also be a handful of events in the run up to DolphinFest to build excitement too. The first of these is a pub quiz on the 25th of March.

For more information about DolphinFest or Dolphinwatch viewing head to or

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