THIS year’s Houghton Feast celebrations began with a bang as fireworks lit up the night sky over the town.
The ancient festival, which dates back to the 12th century, got under way with the traditional tattoo as part of the opening ceremony.
Houghton Pipe Band and Houghton Area Youth Band both performed in front of hundreds of spectators, with youngsters from Zazz Performing Arts Academy carrying out dance routines.
Burnside, Bernard Gilpin and Barnwell primary school pupils also performed.
The famous Feast illuminations were switched on by the Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Stuart Porthouse, before spectacular rockets were launched were launched from nearby Rectory Park.
The theme of this year’s event is the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
Coun Porthouse, who has crowned 101-year-old Gertie Bowden this year’s Feast Queen of Eventide, performed the lights switch-on.
The origins of Houghton Feast date back to the 1100s when it was called Michaelmas, the dedication service to the Church of St Michael’s and All Angels. Coun Porthouse said: “I used to live in Houghton and it’s great to see the community spirit of the place with so many people out here tonight.”
Festivities continue on Saturday as the Feast carnival parade takes place at 2pm.
The roasting of the ox, organised by Houghton Rotary Club takes place on Monday, with all proceeds raised going to charities.