A TWO-day festival will bring the sights and sounds of the African savanna to Sunderland.
An explosion of African drumming, dance and cuisine will descend on the city centre to mark the arrival of blockbuster stage show The Lion King at the Sunderland Empire.
The festival will roar to life on Friday, September 19, from 5.30pm at Sunderland Minster.
It’s part of its drive to attract more people into the city, organised by Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID).
Professional theatre act The Mighty Zulu Nation promises to enthrall audiences with traditional African drumming and dance performances on the Friday of the festival.
The night will also include Fairtrade stalls selling African goods, cocktails and rich cuisine.
Ken Dunbar, chief executive of Sunderland BID, said: “Over the two-day spectacle, the streets of Sunderland will be alive with an exciting array of free entertainment to suit all ages, adding the first-ever African Festival to the incredible line-up of events which the city has hosted this year.
“The opportunity for visitors to the city to interact with this vibrant and colourful culture during the festival is not to be missed. People should come and get into the African spirit, while enjoying everything that Sunderland has to offer including its fantastic range of cafés, restaurants and shops.”
On September 20, events will take place at Sunderland Minster and Town Park, the grassland outside the Minster, from 11am to 11pm.
Visitors will have the chance to get close to African animals from Discovery Zoo, while further performances from The Mighty Zulu Nation and Sunderland group Dance Jam will take place throughout the day.
There will also be opportunities for families to get involved with African drumming workshops, storytelling, face painting and crafts.
To celebrate Sunderland AFC’s strong ties with Africa, coaches from the club will be in Town Park to host African Flicks and Tricks sessions, with mascots Samson and Delilah on hand to help.
Visitors to the festival could also win tickets to see Sunderland AFC by bringing unwanted adult boots in good condition to Sunderland Minster on the Saturday in support of Kenyan football team Sunderland SAFC Keroche.
l For full details of the African Festival taking place this September in Sunderland, visit www.facebook.com/sunderlandexperience.