Better regarded as the home for oil companies’ North Sea operations, Aberdeen in the heart of Scotland’s Grampian Highlands is also an excellent getaway for art, history and culture that is slightly off the beaten holiday path. Scotland’s third largest city was inspiration for the well popular Scottish folk song The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen which portrays a well used Scottish theme – that of intense homesickness when away from my “home native land” and celebrates the stunning spectacle of Aurora Borealis.
Referred to by Queen Elizabeth II as “my dear place in the Highlands” Balmoral Castle offers visitors well guided tours of the gardens, historical exhibitions and luxury safari in the Caledonian Pine Forest, where visitors can catch glimpses of Scottish wildlife.
Yet another ancestral residence continuously inhabited for over 400 years is Haddo House. Visitors can enjoy Gordon family ancestral portraits, memorabilia, the old stables and traditional Scottish tea room. Opera, ballets and plays are presented from May to October.
The NorthEast Falconry Centre offers a uniquely intimate experience with Scotland’s birds of prey. Introduction to Falconry, outside demonstrations and walks with hawks are just some of the exciting and educational activities on offer.
Aberdeen Art Galleries and Museums comprises Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen Maritime Museum, the Lord Provost’s house and The Tollbooth in one site, and offers a varied programme of events and exhibitions. The Art Gallery hosts collections dating back to the 18th century of fine art, and the Maritime museum exults in the region’s proud seafaring traditions. The Tollbooth is made up of 17th century cells, and the Lord Provost’s House portrays the elegance and ritual of upper class Highland living.
Aberdeen offers a whole host of recreational activities to enjoy. From parks to museums, tourists will never be bored while in Aberdeen.
Storybook Glen in Royal Teeside is a magical adventureland set over 28 acres where kids and adults can see their favourite fairy-tales and nursery rhymes come to life, and wonder at the natural beauty of waterfalls, brooks and flora.
The Gordon Highlanders Museum celebrates the history and culture of over two centuries of one of Scotland’s greatest kilted regiments, the Gordon Highlanders.
Known as the “jewel in the crown” of the city’s fantastic parks, The David Welch Winter Gardens boasts a Tropical House featuring flora from South and Central America, an Acrid House which creates desert conditions for exotic cacti to flourish, and a Corridor of Perfumes which celebrates the variety of perfumes from different plant species.
A visit to the Lighthouse and Harbour Master is a don’t-miss to learn about Scotland’s marine history, and find out what ships will be arriving in the port and when.
The world’s sixth oldest golf club, The Royal Aberdeen Golf Club may be able to lay claim to being the site of the invention of the game of golf. Today the club retains the old world elegance of a gentlemen’s club, and boasts a healthy membership of both local and overseas golf enthusiasts who enjoy the stunning Balgowie Course, which has played host to many major tournaments.
The Lemon Tree is known as the world’s only year round festival, presenting a constant programme of theatre, dance and musical spectaculars, and national touring West End theatre is also on offer at Her Majesty’s Theatre. The Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre hosts international touring music acts and sporting events.
Aberdeen is undeniably the jewel of the Highlands, offering world class cusine, nightlife and cultural and traditional attractions to satisfy travelers of all ages and interests. The architecture of Aberdeen is characteristic and aesthetically arresting, created as it is from silver granite, creating a cityscape unique in its charm. Aberdeen possesses a cosmopolitan diversity, having been a principal Northern European trading port for several ages, benefiting from centuries of established connections with Scandinavian traders and Asian merchants. Snuggled in the rugged environment of the North East Highlands, and set against the romantically bleak North Sea, Aberdeen offers exceptional views that have more in common with Scandinavian countries than the British Isles, and culture and history resplendent in maritime tradition Celtic heritage. The oil capital of Europe is also home to a thriving nightlife and theatre scene, just one in many contradictions that make up this fascinating ancient city.