Sunderland Illuminations switch on just days away

Dated: 27/09/2015 The Sunderland Illuminations switch-on at Cliffe Park lighthouse, which was done by Lauren Laverne and Council Leader Paul Watson and festival favourites the Spark Drummers. #NorthNewsAndPictures/2daymedia
Dated: 27/09/2015 The Sunderland Illuminations switch-on at Cliffe Park lighthouse, which was done by Lauren Laverne and Council Leader Paul Watson and festival favourites the Spark Drummers. #NorthNewsAndPictures/2daymedia
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Six weeks of spectacular lighting displays and family entertainment on Wearside is set to start with the launch of Sunderland Illuminations this Saturday.

Running until Saturday, November 5, Roker Park, Cliffe Park and the seafront will be transformed with a bigger and better lighting display than ever before according to tourism bosses.

Last year, more than 300,000 people visited Sunderland Illuminations.

Councillor John Kelly, the city council’s portfolio holder for culture, said: “Last year’s event was fantastic, and our research with visitors told us they’d like to see even more lights and new themes in future years, so that’s exactly what we’ve done for this year.

“We’re using the whole of Roker Park for the first time, and visitors can expect to see pirates, dinosaurs, fairies and all kinds of other weird and wonderful installations.

The Illuminations will be switched on from 5pm to 10pm every night of the event, starting with a switch on event on Saturday in Cliffe Park.

Ian and Dannii from the Sun FM breakfast show will host a packed programme from 7-8pm, featuring a return to the event by drumming and lighting sensations Spark! drummers.

There will also be performances from St Anthony’s school choir and local singer Chloe Castro who appeared on BBCs The Voice.

The Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Alan Emerson will be accompanied by Sunderland AFC legends Kevin Ball and Jimmy Montgomery lights to switch on the lights.

Alison McDonough, chief executive of event delivery organisation Sunderland Live has revealed that this year will have a new pirate theme.

Ms McDonough said: “We are bringing back the 33m observation wheel plus we’ll have a large pirate swing boat, Venetian carousel, children’s fairground rides and so much more.

“Roker Park is where the pirate adventure really begins. Children can take on the role of a pirate, ride on the shuggy boats and take a trip to treasure island which leads to the lost island of dinosaurs.

“There’s a pirate adventure golf course, illuminated arts and lots of other exciting activities to keep the whole family entertained.”

HOW TO GET TICKETS

Entry into Roker Park will cost £1 per person, with children aged two years and under free.

The City Council has introduced the charge in order to generate income to allow the event to continue to run.

All proceeds will go directly to event operational costs in future years.

Tickets can be bought for the launch night (24 September) or for any other night, from the outlets below from:

- City Library, Fawcett Street

- Bunnyhill Customer Service Centre

- Washington Town Centre library

- Houghton Library

- Sandhill Customer Service Centre

- Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

- Plus cabins on Cliffe Park, Bede’s Cross and Marine Walk will be open from 5pm every day from 24 September.

Visitors can also buy tickets on the gate at Roker Park. Those attending the launch night are advised to buy tickets in advance as numbers are limited.

HOW TO GET THERE

A programme of road closures and a resident parking scheme will be in place from Saturday 24 September.

The scheme will operate every Friday to Sunday evening, and also the first week of the event and throughout the school half term holidays (Monday 24 - Friday 28 October).

Park and Ride from city centre

Service 101 Sunderland Illuminations from St. Mary’s Boulevard (bus stop opposite Keel Square (on the former Vaux site) via Wearmouth Bridge, Wheatsheaf Gyratory, Dame Dorothy Street, Harbour View, Roker Terrace and Whitburn Road to Seaburn Morrison’s roundabout. Service 101 “Keel Square” will return along the route from Seaburn.

It will operate from Saturday 24 September – Sunday 2 October (opening week), plus every Friday – Sunday of the event, and October half term holidays,

Fares are £1.50 per adult single trip, £2.50 per adult return, and £1.10 for a child day ticket (age 5-16). Under 5s travel free. Buses are wheelchair and pushchair accessible.

The park and ride service is free travel for people parking in St Mary’s (postcode SR1 3AH) or Sunniside (postcode SR1 1UL) car parks and showing their car park ticket to the bus driver.

Park and walk

From University of Sunderland St Peter’s campus car park (postcode SR6 0DD) and National Glass Centre

£1.50 per evening, from 5pm. Approx 1mile/20 minutes walk to Roker Park.

Public transport

The nearest Metro stations are Seaburn (20 minute walk to Roker Park) and Stadium of Light (14 minute walk to Roker Park).