Christmas spirit is alive and well in Sunderland
Showcasing great businesses and expertise in the heart of the city centre
The countdown to Christmas has begun – and that’s certainly true in the city centre.
Festive spirit has well and truly arrived, with a packed programme of popups, events and activities designed to ensure that the Sunderland experience is one not to be missed.
While it may be tempting to sit at home and do your shopping online, actually seeing products in the flesh along with enjoying seasonal entertainment is something that can only be done in person.
And the message from Sunderland BID is shut the computer and head to the city centre to experience the real magic of Christmas.
Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID, believes that people who don’t head in to the city will really miss out this festive season.
“There’s no substitute for enjoying the Christmas lights and enhancing the shopping experience by eating out or socialising,” she said.
“And we’re delighted that there’s such a full programme of events which we hope will guarantee that people will come out in force.”
The ever-popular ice rink is set to return once again to Keel Square, with sessions for families, children or adults who just want to have a night out with a difference.
Skating will begin on Thursday, November 29, right through to Sunday, January 6, so there’s plenty of opportunity to enjoy the seasonal activity.
Keel Square is a real hub of festive cheer this year, not only because of the ice rink and Hadrian’s Tipi with its food outlets and entertainment, but also as it’s a great base to explore the other great venues in that part of the city.
However, you can start to get into seasonal spirit even earlier, with the annual light switch on taking place on Thursda, November 22.
Santa’s grotto will be returning to The Bridges once again, giving youngsters the opportunity to ensure they’re on the nice rather than the naughty list.
There’s also the opportunity for youngsters of all ages to get involved in the Reindeer Dash at The Bridges on Sunday, December 9, to raise money for the Foundation of Light and the Red Sky Ball.
An indoor 1k run around the shopping centre with a special warm up from Santa, runners will be greeted at the finish line and awarded a medal by Richard McCourt.
Better known as being one half of comedy duo Dick n Dom, Richard will be in Sunderland for this year’s pantomime at the Sunderland Empire, Peter Pan.
Starring Hollyoaks actor Jamie Lomas as Captain Hook, Richard McCourt as lovable sidekick Smee, Gavin and Stacey’s Melanie Walters as Mrs Darling and West End star Josh Andrews playing Peter Pan, the panto runs from December 14 to January 6.
And there’s good news for fans of Christmas markets because Sunderland has two coming to the city this year.
Port of Call at Park Lane is hosting a free market in the tipi from 11am to 4pm on Saturday, December 1, and Sunday, December 16, where visitors will be able to browse a range of crafts, cakes, confectionary and much more.
With Christmas music playing and mulled wine, hot chocolate, Christmas cocktails and Port of Call’s Christmas express menu on offer, there’s lots to try.
Or, try the Cultural Quarter Market outside The Fire Station at High Street West from Thursday, November 29, to Sunday, December 2, with festive treats and Christmas-themed food and drink to make the most of.
And thrill seekers, or fans of the less adventurous rides, will be pleased to know that the fun fair is returning to the city just in time for Christmas.
Setting up on the old Crowtree site on Friday, November 23 until January 6, revellers will be able to enjoy a range of rides and classic fairground treats like candy floss and popcorn, in a day fit for the whole family.
“We’ve really gone all out to ensure Christmas in Sunderland is great fun for everyone this year,” said Sharon.
“So let’s hope everyone turns out in force to support the activities.”
For more information about Sunderland BID, visit www.sunderlandbid.co.uk.
Natalie Dellow and Gemma Dishman, from Sunderland BID, getting into the spirit of the city’s first Reindeer Dash last year. Return of Sunderland’s ice rink at Keel Square, and Hadrian’s Tipi at Keel Square