Sunderland’s Sunniside goes Mad as a hatter for tea party

The Queen of Hearts and Alice of Wonderland ready to welcome people at Sunniside in Sunderland.
The Queen of Hearts and Alice of Wonderland ready to welcome people at Sunniside in Sunderland.
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Alice’s fairytale visit to Wearside has come to a close after her summer days filled with magic reached their end.

Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID) hosted the weekends packed with activities to mark the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland.

This has been bringing people in during the weekends and now we’re looking at the build up to Christmas.

Rachel Kelly, event organiser

Today saw a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party hosted in Sunniside, with the spread to be put on again tomorrow from 10am to 4pm.

A treasure hunt challenge gives 150 visitors the chance to pop their own balloon, with each offering the winner a prize donated by the city’s businesses.

Games, face painting, live music from bands from the Bunker, pizza feasts, live music and alternative therapies are also part of the programme, while characters including Alice herself, the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, welcomed guests and posed for pictures.

Rachel Kelly, of She’s Gott It Events, put on the activities on behalf of the BID, which included events in Keel Square, Park Lane and other locations around the city centre.

She said: “It’s been really good, the games have been amazingly popular and a lot of children have been learning how to play chess and it’s been very popular.

“This has been bringing people in during the weekends and now we’re looking at the build up to Christmas.”

All those who have passed on their details during the four-weekend run will be entered into a prize draw for a festive package of prizes.

Among those to enjoy today’s party were Kay Henson,39, from Ryhope, who works with adults with learning difficulties, and her daughter Faye Henson, eight, who goes to Ryhope Juniors.

Kay said: “We came down for the event in Park Lane and decided to come back for this one.

“It’s something for the kids to do and Faye’s enjoyed playing the games.”

Hartlepool Borough Council worker Mark Greenwood, 36, from Seaham, visited with daughter Anneleise, six, who goes to New Seaham Academy.

They played as Mark’s wife and Anneleise’s mum Louise, 36, shopped.

Mark said: “We’d been to the cinema and saw a leaflet about this.

“It’s something to do and it’s a good chance to meet new people.”