Ben Torrie is Head of Programming for the Lemon Tree, His Majesty’s Theatre and the Music Hall, in Aberdeen. Working at the heart of the arts scene in the city, he’s programmed an array of music, theatre, dance, music and comedy for the venues, including Emile Sande, Scottish Ballet, Sarah Millican and John Bishop. We chatted with him about his city highlights.
Aberdeen has some great arts spaces. What do you enjoy most about working here?
The variety of what you can see across the venues: on any given night there can be a multi-million pound West End musical, a world famous rock band, or a cutting edge new play. We manage to get some huge names to come and play up here; I’m really proud of that. And that’s just us; the galleries in Aberdeen also do a great job of showcasing international, as well as Scottish talent.
What’s your favourite cultural space to hang out in and why?
It depends on what mood I’m in. I’ve a lot of affection for The Lemon Tree; it has a great atmosphere. But if I’m looking to chill out, I’ll generally wander around the Aberdeen Art Gallery: the 19th century architecture of the building is great and they always have good exhibitions inside.
When you’re off the clock, where do you like to eat and drink in Aberdeen
In terms of a hidden gem, La Stella on Adelphi Lane does great Mediterranean food; the Moonfish Cafe, too, while tiny and a bit off the beaten track is well worth the trip. For drinks in Aberdeen, The Illicit Still has a great atmosphere or The Noose and Monkey does good drinks and entertainment.
Aberdeen is surrounded by beautiful coastline and great walks. What are your favourite(s) and why?
I have two favourites. One is Dunnottar Castle near Stonehaven; it’s a ruined medieval fortress set out on a rock just off the coastline – it’s an absolutely stunning spot. I also love just taking a walk in the sand dunes at Balmedie; they stretch for 14 miles from Aberdeen to Newburgh.
What one thing should any visitor to Aberdeen do?
The city centre of Aberdeen is great; but if you want to head for something a little different take a walk down to Old Aberdeen, which lies just to the north of the city. I like to take a wander through King’s College and on to St Machar’s Cathedral and the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens when I have time.
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