Posted by: christinelaennec | December 19, 2010

The Christmas lights of old Aberdeen

Whereas in the States most of the Christmas lights you see are on private houses, in Britain they’re mostly put up by municipal governments and businesses.  This may change, as local governments face huge cuts – I saw on the news that local citizens in Helensburgh had to fund-raise in order to repair and display its town’s Christmas lights, as the council had no money for non-essentials.  Aberdeen always has some very pretty Christmas lights.  There’s a piper on the kilt shop:

Christmas lights on Alex Scott's the kilt shop. Schoolhill, Aberdeen, Dec. 2010.

And more pretty lights on Schoolhill:

Christmas lights at Robert Gordon's College. Schoolhill, Aberdeen, Dec. 2010

And the Music Hall is looking very festive too:

Christmas lights on the Music Hall. Union Street, Aberdeen, Dec. 2010.

The most obvious Christmas lights in Aberdeen are those strung across the mile-long length of Union Street.  Here is a snowy view of them from the top of a double-decker bus:

The lights on Union Street, from the top of a double-decker bus. Aberdeen, Dec. 2010.

The title of this post is a reference to a lovely traditional song:  “The Northern Lights of old Aberdeen,” which I first heard on my first Hogmanay in Scotland. We were invited to a gathering of neighbours and were amazed to see these usually rather reserved people singing away for most of the evening!  The song, as far as I know, isn’t about Old Aberdeen (which used to be a separate village outside of Aberdeen –  see this post).  But Old Aberdeen has some pretty Christmas lights as well:

Christmas tree at King's College, University of Aberdeen. Old Aberdeen, Dec. 2010.

When we came to Scotland from the States, I did at first miss the extravagant American displays of decorations and Christmas lights.  Then I came to appreciate the more low-key approach here.  But now, as with everything else, Britain is slowly becoming Americanised, and one can buy rather elaborate Christmas lights for displaying on the house.  However, most of these are inside, rather than outside, Christmas lights.  I thought this one was quite sweet:

Christmas lights in a private house. Aberdeen, Dec. 2010.

As you see, the weather continues very cold and snowy. We had another 3 or 4 inches of snow last night, and more is forecast for today and tonight. I’ve enjoyed walking in the snow, clearing the paths and some of the conifer branches – and then coming in and warming up with a cup of tea. Although there are three more days of school here next week, it feels like the holidays have begun. Yesterday I made some Christmas cookies, and then we watched The Polar Express together by the fire. Magical!



  1. What a beautiful pictures again. Here it is snowing again also !!!

  2. Stunning pictures ..again..Next year Aberdeen is definitely on my list.As for the song I love it…..
    Hugs from a snowy Amsterdam ( yes we do have a few inches too 🙂 )

  3. Of course, now I can’t get that song out of my head 🙂
    Lovely pictures, especially the one from the top of the bus. I love the city streets at dusk in Winter, with all the lights shining out.
    I am just settling down with a cuppa to read your interview. xx

  4. Few years ago there were nicer lights on Union Street. Anyway, nice pictures:). Cheers.

  5. Lovely pictures, and as we are rather snowed in here, so nice for me to see. In our village, the council took away our lights several years ago, so like Helensburgh we had to raisewe lost our council lights…so we started up a local calendar with photos by local people, to raise funds….6 years later, it’s still going!

  6. These festive lights really do put us into a Cjristmas mood. Thank you for sharing them with us. My favourite is the Piper at the Kilt shop.
    Keep warm! it was minus 17C last night here.
    Warm hugs from Heike x

  7. Thanks all! I have a feeling I will be posting yet more snowy photos soon. It’s snowing, again, as I write. Twice in the last three days I’ve cleared a good 4 inches of snow off the greenhouse roof. (For the Europeans, that’s 10 cm – I only know that from doing knitting swatches!) Heike, you make me feel very lucky it’s only forecast to be -5C tonight! Returning Scot, I think probably taking collective responsibility is the way to go because then a community can appreciate these things rather than take them for granted.

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