News and Updates

It’s Celebrate Aberdeen Eve!

Only one sleep to go until Celebrate Aberdeen 2017 – how on earth did that happen? Months of hard work are about to come to fruition in the full-to-bursting two days ahead. We stopped founder Morven Mackenzie in her (rather fast) tracks to get her perspective on the weekend to come…


Can we expect anything new and special from Celebrate Aberdeen 2017?

We’ve invited sports groups to take part in this year’s parade, as well as the charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups. We’re really delighted to have them on board. Our intention going forward is to start promoting some of the sports clubs and teams in the city – and the parade forms part of that effort. The fact that the inaugural Great Aberdeen Run is also happening ties everything together nicely. The two events should make for a great weekend.


Which familiar parts of the weekend can we also look forward to?

We have the three Union Street Mile races organised by Sport Aberdeen. These start outside the Music Hall, go up to Holburn Junction and back down to the Castlegate. The runners are really fast so it’s quite a spectacle. We then have the foot parade which looks to be even bigger again this year, followed by entertainment in various city centre locations. These are Union Terrace Gardens, Bon Accord, St Nicholas Roof Garden, Union Square, Trinity Centre and Aberdeen Central Library.


What’s been the most challenging aspect of organising this year’s weekend?

The weekend is organised by a small team of volunteers – in partnership with Aberdeen City Council – so finding enough hours in the day after work and family commitments is always a challenge for everyone. We’re not based in one office but instead are spread across the city and beyond, so that also makes life more difficult. The amount of information that goes flying about by email, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat etc. is quite incredible. In fact I’d rather not think about it!


And the best bits?

The people involved in Celebrate Aberdeen are absolutely fantastic. It still amazes me that people are willing – keen in fact – to give up so much time to put on something that benefits others. It’s really heart-warming. I like to think that they all get something out of the experience too, whether that’s making new friends or business contacts, or learning a new skill. Hopefully it’s all three! I’m forever asking people to help with various elements; not only do they all step up to the plate, but they do so with a smile and a sense of warmth.


Do you secretly have your own favourite part of Celebrate Aberdeen?

I have two favourite parts. I love it when the parading organisations arrive at Harlaw Academy to pick up their banners. I’ve got to know so many of them over the years and it’s lovely to get the chance to catch up with them. They’re always so positive about the parade and that makes all the burning of midnight oil worthwhile. I also love turning back as I approach the Castlegate and seeing everyone coming down Union Street. I never imagined it would look as it does. Union Street becomes a throng of brightly dressed, happy people carrying banners and enjoying their moment in the limelight.


What do the last 24 hours involve for you as the event lead?

With 24 hours to go everything really should have been done and if it hasn’t then I have to learn to live with it. I’m someone who is obsessed with detail and likes everything to be perfect. At this stage in the process there’s not much more that can be done though, so I always try to relax with my family and not think too much about the weekend ahead. It’s not always easy but I do try. And of course I check the weather forecast every hour on the hour!


Is there anything you’d like to say to someone who’s attending Celebrate Aberdeen for the first time?

I’d definitely say to try to come down on Saturday morning and watch the Union Street mile races and the parade. The races start at 10.30am and the parade begins at 11am. The intention of the parade is to give recognition to the many, many people who work tirelessly – often on a voluntary basis – for our benefit. So it would great to get the support of the general public. Then I’d suggest taking a walk through town and listening to the various performances, stopping off in Union Terrace Gardens for some tasty food and a fine cup of coffee.


And there we have it – wise words from the lady herself! Let the celebrations begin…

Scott Begbie: Let’s Celebrate Aberdeen and parade good points to hush negative voices

If moaning was a sport, some people in Aberdeen would be beating world records and winning Olympic gold medals.

Especially so, when it comes to talking about the Granite City itself. As an in-aboot-comer, it always surprises me how quick folk are to put down the place they call home.

It’s dirty, it’s boring, it’s dull, it’s backward, there’s nothing to do, nothing worth seeing, the council is run by numpties (okay, might give you a bit of slack on that one).

And any attempt to move forward or do things differently invariably draws down a chorus of disapproval – often visceral at that. I refer you to the baying of the No Kingsford Stadium crew.

If you were to listen to all these negative voices, you would be tempted to pack your bags and head for somewhere brilliant – like Edinburgh (see, I automatically and without hesitation big up the place of my birth).

Fortunately, there are other voices out there singing a different tune. And this weekend those voices will come together to make an even bigger noise.

Welcome to Celebrate Aberdeen.

Welcome to an event that exists purely to put the focus on all the people – the many, many people – who are doing such good things for our community.

These are the charities, the third sector organisations, the community groups, the social enterprises, the performing artists, all the people who make life better for those around them.

The people who work so hard and so tirelessly to make Aberdeen a great place to live.

And you know what … they are doing a brilliant job.

We are blessed in this city to have that sense of community, that selfless instinct to make things better, to enrich the lives of others.

For the most part, you don’t see them, don’t hear about them, don’t think about them.

But they are there and make Aberdeen – the whole of the North-east – what it is; a great place to live.

This weekend will see them parade down Union Street, entertain us at venues across the city and invite us to the biggest free party in the city.

Go along, join in, cheer them, sing with them and, above all, applaud them.

The best way to drown out the dreary “cannae do” brigade is to Celebrate Aberdeen.

Celebrate Aberdeen 2017: Your starter for 10

Wow! Less than a week to go until Celebrate Aberdeen 2017. The year’s event programme is bursting with even more activities than ever. Time poor? Unsure where to start? Here are ten ideas to whet your appetite…


  1. Smile for a mile

Be part of the high-energy start to the weekend by cheering on our fittest and finest as they compete in the Union Street Mile. Bag your Saturday morning spot before 10:30am to see both the juniors and seniors compete.

  1. Parading power

The Celebrate Aberdeen flagship parade makes its way from Holburn Junction to the Castlegate, departing at 11am. Moving at a rather more sedate pace than the sprinters beforehand, the 2017 parade throng will include an incredible 160 charitable, voluntary, sporting and musical organisations.

  1. Lunch al fresco

Enjoying Celebrate Aberdeen is hungry work! Luckily, some local eateries are on hand in Union Terrace Gardens to help. Piggery Smokery is sure to tempt many a peckish spectator. Cake lover? Caffeine addict? Swing past Cakes by Alli-Baba and Cafe2U.

  1. Open sesame

Union Terrace Gardens is the venue for the official opening of the Celebrate Weekend. Be there at 1pm as the festivities get underway: the stage will play host to a series of fabulous local acts throughout the afternoon.

  1. Piece of the action

Enjoy a physical spectacle or two? Check out Wrestlezone, who will be at their battling best between performance changeovers in Union Terrace Gardens. You can also catch the Granite City Brawlers – our skating supremos – in the Bon Accord Centre from 2pm.


  1. At your service

Our Sunday events programme begins with a special Celebrate Aberdeen service at St Mark’s Church on Rosemount Viaduct. All are welcome to attend.


  1. Sunday run

Celebrate Aberdeen is providing entertainment along the Great Aberdeen Run route to keep all entrants motivated. Spectators who choose their spot carefully can enjoy music ranging from bands to traditional bagpipes.


  1. Shall we dance?

Absolutely! Sunday’s schedule is stuffed with dance-related delights. Check out the Aberdeen Cheer and Dance Company followed by Pam Dignan Dancers in Union Square. Basing yourself in the Bon Accord Centre? Catch the Walker Road Dancers from 2pm.


  1. In good voice

Sing along (or simply listen) to two extremely talented groups: the Silver City Singers and the B-Naturals Acapella Group, performing in the Bon Accord and Trinity Centres respectively.


  1. Band aid

Where to start? A whole series of talented bands will perform on the Celebrate Aberdeen stages. On day two alone you can choose from a range of styles including blues, ceilidh, alternative funk rock and metal.


So much talent, so little time…Hope to see you there.

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.