Christmas countdown underway for Sunderland

Crowds gather for last year's big Christmas lights switch-on.
Crowds gather for last year's big Christmas lights switch-on.
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THE countdown has started to Sunderland’s big switch-on tomorrow night.

Christmas officially gets under way across Sunderland this week as the city’s festive celebrations kick off.

Tomorrow, former Olympian Steve Cram will join Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Norma Wright, marathon runner Alyson Dixon and Paralympics hopeful Fiona Tozer to pull the lever on the city centre’s Christmas lights.

The switch-on this year will illuminate Mowbray Park and the Bridges shopping centre.

Simon Grundy and the SunFM roadshow will host the event, which takes place from 6pm at Burdon Road with live music, carols and a firework display.

The event will follow on from the Washington switch-on event tonight when Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson will flip the switch on Concord’s Christmas lights.

It takes place on the grassed area in front of Concord Bus Station between 5.30pm and 6.30pm.

John Kelly, the senior councillor responsible for culture in Sunderland, said: “The switch-on events are fantastic family occasions which are always fun. Christmas is all about children and tradition and the switch-on of the Christmas lights across Sunderland is something which really signifies that Christmas is here.

“The events include live music and carol singing from school choirs and a visit by Santa himself.The city centre event on Thursday also signals the beginning of Thursday evening late-night shopping.”

Coun Kelly said a raft of other activities were also planned to spread the magic of Christmas across Sunderland this week.

The theme of this year’s programme of festivities is fairy tales and each week in the run up to Christmas a different children’s favourite will be brought to life with street theatre performers around the city centre.

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THIS week’s festive theme is Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and T’was the Night Before Christmas.

The City Library and Arts Centre has Christmas storytelling and craft activities for children.

The free sessions take place from 5pm to 7pm on Thursdays and at 10.30am, 1.30pm and 2.30pm on Saturdays.

This Sunday will also see the installation of fairy tale figures introducing the fairy tale trail.

Street theatre will be taking place in the city centre and the public is invited to come along dressed as their favourite fairy tale character.

Santa Claus will also be making an appearance.