Aberdeen

AberDEEEEEN! Sorry, we can’t seem to mention the name of one of our favourite Scottish cities without doing it in a very Scottish accent. Apologies etc. But we do tend to get a bit enthusiastic about Aberdeen. It’s the third biggest city in Scotland, is nicknamed the ‘Silver City with the Golden Sands’ (possibly one of the best city names ever), and also has the University of Aberdeen, where you can browse around the Anatomy Museum, Geological Collections and the Zoology Museum. Loads to do here, so get yourself there.

Aberdeen’s been around for at least 8000 years, and still has Old Aberdeen, which was made into a burgh in 1489. There are plenty of landmarks still there in the old part of the city – take a wander around and a look at the old buildings of King’s College*, the nineteenth century (and free) Cruickshank Botanic Gardens*, the eighteenth century Old Town House* and the old St Machar’s Cathedral*, said to date back to around 580. When William Wallace was executed and quartered in 1305, parts of his body were sent around the country as a finger-wagging warning to other possible dissenters. His left quarter ended up in Aberdeen and is buried somewhere within the St Machar’s Cathedral walls. Grisly.

Shake yourself off from the idea of body parts buried within walls and take a walk around the rest of Aberdeen to see why this is such a great little city. For a start, there are 45 parks and open spaces, which is such an achievement for a city this size we think there should be a special F2E award for it (try Duthie Park*, which has extensive gardens, a rose hill, boating pond, bandstand and play area). There are also flower displays everywhere you look, including two million roses, eleven million daffodils and three million crocuses – Aberdeen has won the RSH Best City Award ten times and the large city award every year since 1968. We’re sorry if you have hay fever, but you’ll just have to tie a hanky over your nose and take a look anyway.

For evenings after you’ve seen the flowers, wandered in the parks and taken a look at the old buildings, Aberdeen has plenty to do to keep you out of/get you into mischief. Theatre-wise, His Majesty’s Theatre* is clearly an old one and is the biggest theatre in north-east Scotland. Or there’s the main concert hall the Music Hall*, built in 1822 and where you’ll be able to see the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as well as rock and contemporary music concerts. The Music Hall is also the venue for the the annual Aberdeen International Youth Festival, which is well worth going to as it features over a thousand of the most talented young performers from around the world.

For museums, art galleries and everything in between, there’s the Aberdeen Art Gallery, which shows exhibitions of modern art as well as work by the Impressionists and the Scottish Colourists, and has free lunchtime concerts, talks and events. Or the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, which also incorporates Provost Ross’s House dating from 1593, or you could take the kids to Satrosphere, Scotland's first science and discovery centre, or walk around the Kincorth Hill Local Nature Reserve less than half a mile away. (And then don’t forget that zoology museum at the University of Aberdeen, also just a short walk away).

Enough there to keep you busy for days in the Silver City with the Golden Sands, then. Or, as we still like to call it, AberDEEEEEN!