Over 200,000 people enjoy Sunderland Illuminations
Visitors turned out in huge numbers to enjoy this year’s Sunderland IIluminations and Festival of Light.
New attractions such as the interactive ‘Heart Beat’ and Disney displays in Roker Park, plus fairground fun and food along the seafront attracted crowds of more than 200,000 over the month long event (5 Oct – 5 Nov).
Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Councillor John Kelly said: “I’d like to thank everyone who contributed toward making this year’s event one of the best ever. From the visitors and exhibitors, to the sponsors, staff and contractors who helped make it all possible. We introduced some changes and innovations to make buying tickets to the Festival of Light and travelling to the seafront for the Illuminations easier, which seem to have been a success.
“People were really enthusiastic about the new lights displays in the park, and the giant big-wheel and fairground attractions on Cliffe Park were hugely popular again.”
This year’s sponsors included the Sunderland Empire Theatre with ticketing, Northumbrian Water with the ‘Floating Tap’ light installation and Minchella’s Fish and Chips with the lighting display of the main traffic roundabout on the seafront.
Theatre Director at the Sunderland Empire Ben Philips said: “We were delighted to support this year’s Illuminations, and it’s great to hear how successful they’ve been. It’s now over to us to continue to thrill families this festive season with our wonderful pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk.”
Head of External Communications at Northumbrian Water, Maureen Berne added: “It has been fantastic to be involved again this year with the Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light with the ‘Floating Tap’ installation.
“Once again, the event has been hugely popular, attracting more than 200,000 people from far and wide, who have been wowed by the fantastic spectacle that has been on offer. At a time when Sunderland is bidding to become the City of Culture 2021, it’s great to have an event like this that showcases the city’s creativity and appeals to such a broad audience.”
A new exhibitor this year was Quays Culture ‘Heart Beat’ winner of the international DARC award for its innovative use of inter-active lights, with visitors touching hands or kissing to complete the circuit to light up the symbol of a heart as a symbol of love and friendship.
They also exhibited interactive artwork 'Cathedral of Mirrors' which was twelve illuminated columns that flooded the area with beautiful colours as people moved between the columns.
Visitors to this year’s event included Gemma White from Roxburgh Street who said: “As a resident of the area, I would like to give some positive feedback to all of the organisers and workers involved in this year's Illuminations.
“The small charge to Roker Park meant the event was better managed within the park with no over-crowding, while parking around the area was well controlled for residents by keeping it to Thursday -Sunday and there was also a good variety of things to keep everyone interested. The fireworks on Sunday were amazing, one of the best 'free' displays I've ever seen!”
One of the changes this year was the Park’n’ride from city centre car parks to the seafront operated by Go North East.
Head of commercial and retail, Stephen King said: “The Sunderland Illuminations are a big event in the region’s calendar and this year was no exception, with excellent attendance numbers and great visitor feedback.
“Although this was the first time we’ve supported it in this way, our special events team did a brilliant job.”