Home to Europe’s oil industry
Aberdeen keeps its wealth low-key, preferring genteel Scottish civility to American-style glitz. Bang on the North Sea, there’s a chill in the air, but that hasn’t stopped the city winning Britain in Bloom a record nine times. With 45 parks and gardens, you’ll soon see why.
The main shopping areas are clustered in central Aberdeen, with the Union Square Mall (Guild Square) a particular focus of attention – Apple, Cath Kidston, Hugo Boss and TM Lewin are among its 50-plus retailers. Union Street is the city’s key shopping drag and also plays home to the Trinity Centre (155 Union Street), another well-stocked mall. Elsewhere in Aberdeen, the Merchant Quarter in the West End has a range of independent shops alongside a large number of bars, hotels and restaurants. And if it’s Scottish gifts and souvenirs you’re after, Scotland’s Bothy (250-252 George Street) sells everything from sporrans to crystal.
Food & Drink
The Granite City has enjoyed a certain prosperity thanks to its oil industry, which in turn means there are plenty of places to eat, and drink, well. The restaurant at the Marcliffe Hotel & Spa (North Deeside Road) has a good reputation for its seafood and Scotch beef, as does The Stage Door Restaurant (26 North Silver Street), which is well located for His Majesty’s Theatre (Rosemount Viaduct). For a long-established watering hole, meanwhile, try heading to The Prince of Wales (7 St Nicholas Lane), open since 1850, or Ma Cameron’s Inn (Little Belmont Street), dating back three centuries.
Aberdeen Summer Festival
The six-month period from May to October sees Aberdeen’s calendar at its busiest, with various festivities and events falling under the Summer Festival umbrella. These include everything from community galas and country fairs to street markets and fun runs.
The Big Beach Ball
A boutique dance festival held in Aberdeen Beach Ballroom, The Big Beach Ball is one of the earliest events of the British festival circuit, providing two stages of electronic music as well as stand-up comedy, vintage markets and international performers.
Aberdeen International Street Market
A well-established street market taking place over three days, the event welcomes some 70 stalls selling produce from around Europe and the UK. Food tasting plays a big part, with handicrafts also prominent. It takes place on Union Terrace.
Aberdeen’s Highland Games
More than 50 years in the running, Aberdeen’s Highland Games are a showcase for traditional contests such as tug of war and caber tossing, as well as a variety of marching bands, piping competitions and more contemporary attractions. It takes place on the third Sunday in June.
Centred on a grand parade along Union Street, Aberdeen’s annual Tartan Day has long been a fixture on the calendar. Its principal aim is to celebrate the city’s heritage and culture, and the day spills over into events at various venues around Aberdeen.
Aberdeen has a decent range of hotels for most tastes and budgets. A fixture on the city’s contemporary accommodation scene is Malmaison Aberdeen (49-53 Queens Road), an 80-room boutique property with a spa and on-trend décor. Also popular is the Hilton Garden Inn Aberdeen City Centre (31 St Andrew Street), which boasts 100 guestrooms and a convenient central location. The three-star Aberdeen Douglas Hotel (43-45 Market Street) is another that’s situated close to the heart of town, while Norwood Hall Hotel (Garthdee Road) is a restored Victorian country house 10 minutes’ drive from the centre. It has extensive grounds.