Illuminations set to sparkle

SUNDERLAND ILLUMINATIONS, one of the biggest events in the North East calendar, will be back and brighter than ever in 2016.

Around 300,000 people visited in 2015 and the event starts on Saturday 24 September with a spectacular switch-on and has been extended to end with a bang on Bonfire Night Saturday 5 November.

This year's event, organised by Sunderland Live on behalf of Sunderland City Council, will see all of Roker Park being used for a whole host of new and exciting features, including pirates, dinosaurs and fairies.

A small entrance fee for Roker Park has also been introduced for the first time this year, with a cost of £1 for everyone (children aged 2 and under are free).

Councillor John Kelly, Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture said: "Last year's Illuminations was fantastic, with 300,000 people visiting from across the region. We want to keep running the event for as long as possible, but simply can't afford to do that from our own funds.

"We hope people will appreciate the reasons for introducing this very small charge, and be reassured that every penny will go back into the pot for running the event in years to come."

Visitors to the event this year can look forward to activity right along the seafront, including the return of the big wheel, a very popular attraction in 2015, as well as activities on Ocean Park and Cliff Park

Tom Parkin from the Seafront Traders Association said: "The plans are coming together nicely for the illuminations this year, and we’re all looking forward to it.

"Given the council’s budget position and cuts, it’s understandable that it needs to look at alternative ways to keep this event running, for both the local economy and the enjoyment of local residents. The £1 charge for entry to Roker Park seems very reasonable, considering the amount of things that will be in there to see and do."

Full details of the event, including how to get there and details of special events and activities taking place for the launch night, October half-term, Halloween and Bonfire Night, will be released nearer the time.

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St Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth formed part of the Anglo-Saxon monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow, which was home to the author of the first history of England, the Venerable Bede.

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