Return of the Sunderland illuminations

Six weeks of spectacular lighting displays and family entertainment starts with the launch of Sunderland Illuminations on Saturday 24 September.

Running until Saturday 5 November, Roker Park, Cliffe Park and the seafront will be transformed with a bigger and better lighting display than ever before.

Last year, more than 300,000 people visited Sunderland Illuminations, with 97% saying they would return and recommend the event to their friends.

Councillor John Kelly, the City Council's Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, said: "Last year’s event was fantastic, and our research with visitors told us they’d like to see even more lights and new themes in future years, so that’s exactly what we’ve done for this year.

"We’re using the whole of Roker Park for the first time, and visitors can expect to see pirates, dinosaurs, fairies and all kinds of other weird and wonderful installations.

" The Sunderland Illuminations are a great example of how, by working in partnership with other organisations we, as a council can deliver a low-cost, high quality, family event for residents, which will also attract a number of visitors into Sunderland."

The Illuminations will be switched on from 5pm-10pm every night of the event, starting with a switch on event on Saturday 24 September on Cliffe Park.

Ian and Dannii from the Sun FM breakfast show will host a packed programme from 7-8pm, featuring a return to the event by drumming and lighting sensations Spark! drummers.

There will also be performances from St Anthony’s school choir and local singer Chloe Castro who appeared on BBCs The Voice.

The Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Alan Emerson will be accompanied by Sunderland AFC legends Kevin Ball and Jimmy Montgomery lights to switch on the lights.

Sunderland Live is delighted to be the delivery partner again for this fantastic event and Alison McDonough, Chief Executive has revealed that this year is guaranteed to be a jam packed event with a new pirate theme.

Alison McDonough said: "We are bringing back the 33m observation wheel plus we’ll have a large pirate swing boat, Venetian carousel, children’s fairground rides and so much more.

"Roker Park is where the pirate adventure really begins. Children can take on the role of a pirate, ride on the shuggy boats and take a trip to treasure island which leads to the lost island of dinosaurs. There’s a pirate adventure golf course, illuminated arts and lots of other exciting activities to keep the whole family entertained.

" Dazzling lighting displays, food villages, rides, a thrill zone and fun fair are just some of the amazing things which will take place over this 44-day event and we’ll be announcing many more exciting activities, including a full programme of activity from our very own illuminated Cliffe Cave and a spectacular closing event on Bonfire Night."

How to get tickets

Entry into Roker Park will cost £1 per person, with children aged two years and under free.
The City Council has introduced the charge in order to generate income to allow the event to continue to run. All proceeds will go directly to event operational costs in future years.

Tickets can be bought for the launch night (24 September) or for any other night, from the outlets below from today, Monday 19 September:
- City Library, Fawcett Street
- Bunnyhill Customer Service Centre
- Washington Town Centre library
- Houghton Library
- Sandhill Customer Service Centre
- Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
- Plus cabins on Cliffe Park, Bede’s Cross and Marine Walk will be open from 5pm every day from 24 September.

Visitors can also buy tickets on the gate at Roker Park. Those attending the launch night are advised to buy tickets in advance as numbers are limited.

How to get there

A programme of road closures and a resident parking scheme will be in place from Saturday 24 September.
The scheme will operate every Friday to Sunday evening, and also the first week of the event and throughout the school half term holidays (Monday 24 - Friday 28 October).

Park and Ride from city centre
Service 101 Sunderland Illuminations from St. Mary’s Boulevard (bus stop opposite Keel Square (on the former Vaux site) via Wearmouth Bridge, Wheatsheaf Gyratory, Dame Dorothy Street, Harbour View, Roker Terrace and Whitburn Road to Seaburn Morrison’s roundabout. Service 101 “Keel Square” will return along the route from Seaburn.

It will operate from Saturday 24 September – Sunday 2 October (opening week), plus every Friday – Sunday of the event, and October half term holidays,

Fares are £1.50 per adult single trip, £2.50 per adult return, and £1.10 for a child day ticket (age 5-16). Under 5s travel free. Buses are wheelchair and pushchair accessible.