SUNDERLAND is to play host to the first North East Vegan Festival.
The two-day event will celebrate all aspects of the vegan lifestyle.
Organiser Gareth Edwards is hoping the festival will be a huge hit with Wearsiders.
The event, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday, November 16-17, is to be held at the Stadium of Light.
The Saturday will see a number of vegan musicians, including acoustic pop-punk band Onsind, of Durham, play at venue, with vegan snacks and drinks available at the bar.
On the Sunday, almost 100 stalls will take over the ground to sell everything from luxury chocolates to vegan shoes.
“The North East is about the only region in the country that doesn’t have a vegan festival,” said Gareth, chairman of charity Farplace Animal Rescue, which is organising the event.
“It’s something that it’s missing, so that’s why I wanted to arrange it.
“I recently visited Manchester’s first Vegan Festival, and that was oversubscribed and had more than 3,000 visitors on the day.
“I would like to have more visitors than that and for it to be bigger.”
About 40 companies and five sponsors have already signed up to take part in the festival.
Gareth said: “We already have 600 likes on Facebook and 400 Twitter followers, and Manchester only had that after the event, so I think it is a good sign.” National and international companies are set to pitch up at the event, including gourmet vegan cheese company Vegusto, El Piano Vegan Tapas and Wills Vegan Shoes.
Gareth said: “It’s amazing how many smaller businesses are interested in taking part and will be perfect for this, as well as the big businesses who are signing up.
“I have only been organising it for about four weeks, and it is taking off nicely.
“People can come and go as they please over the weekend – and shop for Christmas, because there will be a lot of vegan confectionary businesses there, and it will be about that time.”
Any profits will be donated to Farplace Animal Rescue, which works across the North East.
Tickets for the Saturday night music event cost £8, (£5 concessions), and entry to the Sunday fair is £1.
For more information, visit www.northeastveganfestival.co.uk.