News and Updates

Celebrate Aberdeen: The People Behind The Event

As many readers know, Celebrate Aberdeen is all about spotlighting the unsung heroes of our city – the charities, voluntary organisations, sporting groups, social enterprises and performing artists. But did you know there’s another tier of unsung heroes behind them? Who might they be? The people who make the weekend happen…

In the run-up to the big event, there’s a small team who interact with all the organisations who want to parade at Celebrate Aberdeen, sponsor Celebrate Aberdeen, perform at Celebrate Aberdeen, or provide catering at Celebrate Aberdeen. Who are the people behind the emails, the lists and the not-inconsiderable programme of events? Our volunteers.

Throughout the Celebrate Aberdeen weekend you can hardly fail to miss the proliferation of people in distinctive pink hi-viz vests. They’re the ones who arrive hours before anyone else does, who set up the groups in the right order for the parade, then escort them down Union Street – smiling as they go. They often spend all day on their feet, ushering performers onto stages or handing out programmes among the crowds. Who are they? Our volunteers.

Another group of people you might spot during Celebrate Aberdeen are the ones with the cameras and microphones. They help us to share the event with the public and let everyone know what’s going on. In keeping with our other volunteers, their work starts long before the weekend itself – issuing press releases, updating websites and sharing all the fun stuff across social media. Who are they? The Celebrate Aberdeen communications team. Otherwise known as our volunteers.

If this blog post seems a little self-indulgent, it really isn’t meant to! The ethos behind Celebrate Aberdeen makes it both fitting and natural that the entire event is volunteer-led and organised. We simply can’t imagine it any other way. What is important, however, is to publicly state how grateful we are to the highly-skilled, exceptionally busy people who give their time and talent to Celebrate Aberdeen. You guys rock.

Ready, Steady, Celebrate Aberdeen!

Celebrate Aberdeen has always been full to bursting with – ahem – good sports. In 2017 the sporting-related elements have reached an entirely new level. Are you fit for the challenge? Let’s get physical…

Give us a weekend, we’ll give you a mile

The wonderful people at Sport Aberdeen are once again working their twin-skin socks off to bring us not one, not two, but three Union Street Mile races. This years’ races are for P6-P7, S1-S4 and senior age categories. Entries open this month and the places tend to be snapped up super-fast! The trio of races take place from 10.30-11am on Saturday, 26 August, with prize-giving immediately afterwards. What better way to energise Aberdeen’s main thoroughfare in advance of the third sector parade?

Sport on show

Talking of the parade, we’re proud as punch to welcome a series of local sporting clubs who are joining us on our walk down Union Street, from Holburn Street to the Castlegate, for the first time in 2017. Aberdeen Snowsports, Oilcats Football and the Granite City Guerillas are just three of the sporting-related organisations who will be part of our colourful throng on the Saturday morning. (We may have to stop some of these fit folk from breaking into a jog….)

Putting the ‘great’ into Aberdeen

Speaking of joggers, they’ll be out in force during the Sunday of the Celebrate Aberdeen weekend when the Simplyhealth Great Run comes to the Granite City for its inaugural series. Those who are up for a challenge can choose between the 10K and half marathon distances. Keen to make it a family affair? A mile-long run for 3-15 year olds is being held on the Sunday too. We’re delighted to share the Celebrate Aberdeen weekend with the first Great Aberdeen Run events – it’s sure to be a fabulous two days for runners, residents and visitors alike.

We’re all BlueSky thinking this summer

The days are getting longer and the nights are getting lighter, it can only mean one thing – summer is on its way, and so is Celebrate Aberdeen!

Adele from BlueSky Business Space tells us why they support Celebrate Aberdeen.

As a local company, born and bred within the city, we are encouraged to give back to the community where possible. Whether it’s hiring local, buying from local suppliers or volunteering for our favourite charity.

So many of BlueSky’s staff already support local organisations through volunteering and fundraising but with so many great charities out there to help and limited hours within a day I wondered – how can we fit it all in? This is where we find Celebrate Aberdeen is the perfect fit for us.

Celebrate Aberdeen gives the City a chance to show their support and appreciation for all charities in the North East while joining in on some family friendly fun all over the city.

Over the last 18 months Aberdeen has struggled for reasons to celebrate. There have been cut backs, redundancies and even the third sector organisations have been affected – so why would we celebrate? As we begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel it’s important that we remember what’s important in life. This summer let’s celebrate all of the unsung heroes in the North East!

Sponsors wanted: Be a part of the Celebrate Aberdeen buzz

Would your organisation like to be part of a major annual celebration of the cumulative good work that goes on in our city and its communities? Are you prepared for a shock when we tell you little (not how much!) that would cost? Sit tight: here’s a sponsorship opportunity you won’t want to miss…

The background

Since its foundation in 2011, the Celebrate Aberdeen weekend and its flagship third sector parade have gone from strength to strength. The parade involves thousands of people, representing over 100 charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations. It’s a colourful (and often noisy) spectacle and thousands more line Union Street in order to watch it.  This year, with the Celebrate Aberdeen weekend coinciding with the Great Aberdeen Run, spectator attendance is set to reach a new sky-high limit.

The concept

Much of the third sector parade’s “wow” factor is down to the large banner that each group of charity representatives carries as they make their way down the city’s main thoroughfare. Each banner bears the name of the charity, the Celebrate Aberdeen logo and – wait for it – the logo of their corporate sponsor partner.

The package

In addition to gaining significant brand exposure via a parade banner, your organisation’s team members will also have the opportunity to walk with their charity of choice on the morning of 27 August. Not only that, but you will be included in the supporters’ section of our website and within the 10,000 Celebrate Aberdeen event programmes that will be handed out over the course of the weekend. You’ll also enjoy social media shout-outs via the Celebrate Aberdeen channels. (Warning: We’re quite noisy when it comes to social media.)

The nitty gritty

£300 is all it costs to be part of something pretty special. While we can’t guarantee your first choice of charity, we will do our best to match organisations with causes that are special to them. Desperate to secure your sponsorship spot? Drop our very own Morven Mackenzie  a line. She’ll be delighted to hear from you.

Third sector, musicians and sports groups urged to sign up for Celebrate Aberdeen

Organisers of Celebrate Aberdeen are aiming to hold their largest ever parade in the city this year and are urging a range of new groups to sign up for the weekend event.


As well as local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups, musicians and city sports groups have been invited to take part in the event which will be held on Saturday, August 26 and Sunday, August 27, alongside the Great Aberdeen Run.


More than 70 third sector organisations have already ensured their place in the celebratory parade since the date was announced last month, but organisers are urging others to ensure they don’t miss their chance to take part.


The parade was first held in 2011 and has brought together more than 3,500 people from 130 diverse third sector organisations for each event in recent years. The cut off-date for third sector registration is Friday, April 28.


Morven Mackenzie, event management company, 46 Degrees, and the leading force behind Celebrate Aberdeen, said: “Preparations are well underway for this year’s event already which we hope will be the biggest and best yet. To ensure that it is, we need as many third sector groups, sports groups and musicians as possible, so I would urge them all to sign up soon.


“The organisations that are on board already are truly remarkable in the work they carry out, and being able to offer them an opportunity to celebrate and gather support is great. We are delighted to have another parade this year as well as a range of activities and performances throughout the weekend, which will be fun for all the family.”


The Lord Provost of Aberdeen, councillor George Adam, said: “Celebrate Aberdeen is a fantastic event, which provides an excellent platform for local third sector, organisations and clubs to be seen and to promote their work in a carnival atmosphere.


“The city has many third sector organisations, which provide first-rate services because of the dedication of their volunteers. With the event being held alongside the Great Aberdeen Run the whole Celebrate Aberdeen weekend is guaranteed to be entertaining, informative and fun so I would encourage organisations to sign up as soon as possible.”


Third sector organisations wishing to take part in the Celebrate Aberdeen weekend can sign-up at:

Celebrate Aberdeen: One sleep to go!

Twas the night before Celebrate Aberdeen and everyone was beyond excited. Before she crept off for some much-needed shut-eye, the team bullied founder Morven Mackenzie into the blogging hot seat.

What’s new and different about Celebrate Aberdeen 2016?

We’re thrilled to have performances taking place down in The Green, in Union Square and in the Trinity Centre. These are all new performance areas for Celebrate Aberdeen and have allowed us to expand the event once again this year.

What have been the highlights so far?

I love the way that everybody comes together to help. Each year new people get involved in Celebrate Aberdeen. They all seem to love being a part of it – that makes me really happy. The whole event is a huge undertaking but it’s always great when we all get together after months of preparations and enjoy the weekend itself.

Any setbacks or challenges?

t’s no secret that Aberdeen is facing challenging times economically and we were concerned about attracting sponsorship. Our corporate supporters have, however, remained incredibly loyal to the whole initiative. We’re immensely grateful for their support.

It’s also worth mentioning that we rely on the kindness of a small group of volunteers to make Celebrate Aberdeen happen. Between them, they’ve developed a new website, executed a PR and social media campaign, signed up charities, sourced sponsors, written blog posts and organised performers. Obviously, it would be much easier if everyone worked full-time on the event, under one roof. Then again, if that was the case, Celebrate Aberdeen wouldn’t be as unique or special as it is.

What do you most look forward to?

I have a few favourite moments over the course of the weekend. I love it when all the third sector representatives come to Harlaw Academy to pick up their banners. They’re always so excited and positive – it makes all our hard work worthwhile. I also love looking back from the Castlegate to Holburn Junction from the front of the parade and seeing everyone walking down Union Street together. So many charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups take part to the point that they fill Union Street. It’s amazing!

My final highlight is when our volunteers congregate in Union Terrace Gardens on Sunday afternoon to listen to the last couple of bands. Everyone is incredibly tired by that point, but delighted to have been part of something which brings them all together in such a community-spirited way.

What will be going through your mind tonight?

I try not to think about things too much the night before. Once the stages are set up and there’s nothing left to do, I attempt to relax and enjoy the peace. By this point, all the preparation should have been done – there’s no point in worrying about what might go wrong. So much work goes into the event – the devil is most definitely in the detail when it comes to planning – so I can only hope that everything’s been covered. I do fret about the weather but sadly there’s not much I can do to influence that!

What does life hold in store after August 28th?

I would love to say that I’ll be taking some time off and slowing down, but unfortunately that’s not the case. I have a few other events coming up in the latter part of the year which need my attention. I also have some ideas for new events – even another city centre parade, albeit a different kind!

That said, I’m pretty sure I’ll be having more sleep than I am just now…

See here for details on the program over the weekend.

Celebrate Aberdeen: You’re One Click Away

As the working week draws to a close you might wonder how best to use your blissful two days of freedom ahead. Wonder no more.

A deeply committed group of volunteers have been working tirelessly over the past weeks and months to bring you a two-day programme packed with parading charities, talented performers and sporting activities.

Here’s how to make the most of Celebrate Aberdeen 2016:

Day one: Saturday, 27 August

Celebrate Aberdeen kicks off on style with the Union Street mile followed by the third sector parade, which will make its colourful way down Union Street towards the Gallowgate from 11am. Since bursting into life in 2011, the parade has brought together more than 3,500 people from 130 charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations. Come along and give ‘em a cheer.

If you need to rest your voice after all the cheering, take a stroll to one of Celebrate Aberdeen’s performance venues and enjoy the sounds of some of our best local artists. There are musical styles aplenty to experience. Choose your spot from Union Terrace Gardens, Aberdeen Central Library or new venues for 2016, The Green and Union Square. Don’t want the fun to end? Laugh out loud until later with Breakneck Comedy at the Blue Lamp.

See the full Saturday schedule here.

Day two: Sunday, 28 August

There’s only one problem with the day two schedule – choosing which performance to enjoy next. The programme of events starts in energetic style with Zumba at noon in Union Terrace Gardens.

The acts then keep on coming – right until the 4.15pm closing performance by the Lorelei. During changeovers, Wrestlezone will be on site to keep the entertainment levels high. Meanwhile, additional venues in The Green, Bon Accord Centre, Trinity Centre and the Roof Garden at St Nicholas will play host to a series of afternoon performances including choirs, bands and solo artists.

See the full Sunday schedule here.

One last thing…

Celebrate Aberdeen 2016 has been pulled together against an incredibly challenging economic climate. The fact that the event has endured – and indeed expanded into new areas – is testament to the resilience and spirit that exists in our city. It could not have happened without the support of loyal sponsors and corporate supporters, as well as the volunteers who give their time and skills to bring the event to life. This cumulative achievement, surely, is something to celebrate in itself.

Celebrate Aberdeen: Prepared to be inspired

If you want something done, ask a busy person. So when we went knocking at Carla Furneaux’s door, we knew she’d help us out.
Despite her involvement in a flurry of amazing city centre projects, Aberdeen Inspired’s marketing and communications manager took time out to explain their rationale for supporting Celebrate Aberdeen.

When and why did Aberdeen Inspired first get involved with Celebrate Aberdeen?

We first supported the event in 2013 – for multiple reasons. Celebrate Aberdeen provides Aberdeen Inspired with an additional opportunity to engage with our levy payers and encourage wider community connections between them. As city centre ambassadors, we wholeheartedly support anything that creates good feeling in Aberdeen! Last but not least, many local charities have a presence in the city centre. Naturally, we wanted to give them our support.

Tell us a bit more about Aberdeen Inspired’s raison d’être – and why we’re a good match.

Aberdeen Inspired works on behalf of levy payers in the city centre with the dual aims of making improvements and increasing footfall. We support any initiative that meets these two aims – and Celebrate Aberdeen most definitely does.

What’s your own best Celebrate Aberdeen memory to date?

My favourite part would have to be the parade!

There are some new aspects to the 2016 programme. What are you most looking forward to?

The activities and music in Union Terrace Gardens are a must-attend. Aberdeen Inspired’s weekend street art festival will take place simultaneously under the arches. We hope it will add to the celebratory atmosphere!

The tough economic climate in Aberdeen is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. What are your thoughts on this?

I think it’s more important than ever that an event like Celebrate Aberdeen continues to take place. It provides a very visual reminder of the city’s resilience and ability to pull together, when required. It’s also worth mentioning that all of the activities and entertainment throughout the weekend are free, which is a boon for the families, groups and individuals who come along to support it.

What do you feel are the long-term benefits of an event such as Celebrate Aberdeen?

Celebrate Aberdeen has built its profile and expanded year on year. This can only help to improve longer-term connections and relationships between communities.

Last one! What would you say to someone who is considering coming along to Celebrate Aberdeen for the first time?

Bring all of your family and friends – there will be something for everyone to enjoy!

Click here for details on the Celebrate Aberdeen weekend schedule!

Leading from the front

When it comes to Celebrate Aberdeen, unsung heroes abound. It’s hard to know where to start, let alone stop. Our parade and performances are characterised by so many people who go the extra mile for others, with no expectation of anything in return.

Given the abundance of good work and good will, it was nigh on impossible to select one individual to fly the flag (literally) for Celebrate Aberdeen. So we handed that responsibility back to our wonderful third sector parade participants. We asked them to nominate an extra special someone, who they felt was worthy of being our 2016 flagbearer. And boy, did they respond.

Confession: The Celebrate Aberdeen team came over quite teary when they read some of the nominations. The stories we received were both remarkable and heart-warming – and made our decision incredibly hard. That said, we are all completely convinced of the worth of our eventual winner, Wilma Mackland.

Who is Wilma? As written in her nomination “she is the glue that has kept Sunnybank Community Centre together”. This important city-based facility came under threat when several staff members were made redundant, however Wilma refused to give up on it. She kept the centre open, without any pay, until sufficient volunteers were recruited to form a management committee and take over its running.

The Sunnybank Community Centre – with Wilma at its helm – has been instrumental to the lives of many in the neighbourhood, particularly those who are vulnerable, or in danger of suffering from isolation. Its programme includes a variety of vocational and more formal learning opportunities for local people of all ages. In the words of her supporters: “Many families have received amazing support from both Wilma and Sunnybank Community Centre during the past few years.  In effect, the centre has become a surrogate family to many of its members with Wilma as mother hen!”

As if that’s not enough, the social media response to her announcement as flagbearer has been astounding.  The vocabulary surrounding Wilma includes words like “priceless”, “amazing” and “fantastic”.

Well done Wilma. We can’t wait for you to lead us on August 27th.

Celebrate Aberdeen: A Word With Our Lord Provost

It’s August and guess what that means?  It’s Celebrate Aberdeen month – woohoo! In one of our recent posts, we thanked the many individuals and organisations who help make the Celebrate Aberdeen weekend happen. At the top of this list was Aberdeen City Council, whose support has been pivotal from the outset.

Lord Provost George Adam took time out from his hectic schedule to talk to the Celebrate Aberdeen team about his reasons for backing the event.


You’ve been involved in Celebrate Aberdeen every year since its inception. Do you have any particularly special memories?

I have many memories from Celebrate Aberdeen. I’ve seen lots of parades along Union Street over the years but I’ll never forget seeing the street filled from one end to the other with Celebrate Aberdeen participants.  In year one I was a collector who walked alongside the parade with a bucket.  It was a happy and colourful occasion and the public were so willing to give.

During my first Celebrate Aberdeen year as Lord Provost I walked at the front of the parade. As I neared the Castlegate I turned to see Union Street packed with people as far back as Holburn Street. It was amazing – and a privilege to be part of.

Seeing the performers in different locations around the city centre last year was brilliant. It really contributed to the celebratory atmosphere. Watching the band from Regensburg, Aberdeen’s German twin city, was great fun. They seemed to pop up for impromptu performances everywhere and had a fantastic time!


What will be your own role in Celebrate Aberdeen 2016? 

I hope to take part in the third sector parade on Saturday morning.  After that, I’d like to catch as many of the performances as possible. Once the parade is over, my role is very much that of an appreciative and supportive audience member!


Are there any aspects of the weekend that you are particularly looking forward to?

The parade.  It is an amazing spectacle and I can’t wait to join all the charity representatives and their supporters who are taking part.  I’m looking forward to seeing many friends and acquaintances who will be part of the throng parading down Union Street. It promises to be a great morning for catching up with people from the city’s various charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises.

Celebrate Aberdeen 2016 takes place against a particularly challenging economic climate.  What is your view on this?     


This is a challenging time for Aberdeen and we recognise that.  It is, however, so important that we continue to celebrate the good things in our city. Our third sector needs to be supported and recognised – and Celebrate Aberdeen provides the ideal opportunity to do so.  The parade will be made up of staff, volunteers, service users and supporters from most of the city’s wonderful charities.  I would encourage all Aberdonians to come out to cheer them on.


Any parting thoughts?

As well as watching the parade, I hope that people will enjoy the many performances and activities that will be taking part over the weekend.  Celebrate Aberdeen 2016 will be a fantastic showcase of local talent – including singers and musicians performing all kinds of music.


These artists have stepped forward to support Celebrate Aberdeen, giving their time and talents to the cause.  It’s up to us as residents of the city to come out and support them in return. Let’s Celebrate Aberdeen!