Everything you need to know about Christmas in Sunderland

One of the scenes from last year's Christmas events
One of the scenes from last year's Christmas events
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Sunderland has Christmas wrapped-up this year with 150 festive fun activities for all the family.

The festive line-up of events features everything from ceilidhs to comedy, funfairs to football and candlelit carols to Kylie Minogue tribute acts, as preparations begin to bring Christmas cheer to the city.

The newly transformed Keel Square is to become a festive Frost Village, complete with open air ice rink and traditional Christmas Market, and the former Vaux site will be home to a Christmas fun fair, all delivered by Sunderland BID.

Sunderland Business Group chairman, Gary Hutchinson, has urged city businesses and organisations to help take the list beyond 150, creating a comprehensive line-up of city activities to make Sunderland the centrepiece for Christmas in 2015.

“We are determined to make this the best Christmas across our city,” said Gary. “Few cities will be able to boast the variety of strong events that are planned across Sunderland and fewer still who have had the wherewithal to pull everything together to help people plan their party season.

“But this is just the beginning. We want the shops, community groups, businesses, musicians, sporting organisations, restaurateurs, everyone with an interest in bringing vibrancy to the city centre and beyond to let us know what they have planned and we will add it to the list and help them promote it to the widest possible audience.”

The programme started with the illuminations, but will truly ignite with the Christmas Lights Switch On, organised by Sunderland City Council, tomorrow. Special guest X-Factor finalist, Andrea Faustini, is joining the Mayor, Coun Barry Curran, to flick the switch, with a full stage event beginning at 6.30pm.

•Businesses or organisations that have their own events and activities organised should contact Ashmore Consulting to have them added to the online festive guide at mark.hodgson@ashmoreconsulting.co.uk or by calling 0191 500 8585.

Christmas highlights

•November 22 - Frosty Fayre at Washington Hall.

A great chance to pick up something different for a Christmas gift in one of the North East’s greatest old houses.

•November 26 to December 24 - Frost village at Keel Square

Visit the Frost Village Traditional Christmas Market in Keel Square. The market will feature over 25 stalls selling a wide range of Christmas gifts, crafts, continental food and drink in a unique festive frosty atmosphere. Enjoy a glass of Gluwine and a Bratwurst while you wander through the Frost Village.

Opening times are:

Sunday to Wednesday - 10am – 8pm

Thursday to Saturday - 10am – 10pm

Christmas Eve - 10am – 4pm

•November 26 to December 24 - Christmas Ice rink

The Frost Village’s main attraction will be a real frozen open air ice rink located on Keel Square. The rink will be opened with a Gala Ice Extravaganza including performances from Dancing on Ice Stars Andrei Lipanov and Susie Lipanova followed by a full programme of activities throughout the festive period.

•November 26 to December 24 - Christmas funfair on the Vaux site

Get Christmas off to a flying start with a visit to the funfair at the Frost Village on the Vaux Site. The former Vaux Site is being transformed into a traditional fairground with a Ferris wheel, traditional carousel, waltzers and bumper cars.

Opening times are:

Sunday to Wednesday - noon to 8pm

Thursday to Saturday - noon to 10pm

Christmas Eve - 10am to 4pm

•November 27 - Southwick Christmas lights switch on

A traditional Christmas event that incorporates a procession of lanterns from Southwick Primary School, entertainment from the school choir and the Salvation Army Band.

•December 1 to December 5 - Snow Child at Arts Centre Washington

As Autumn leaves fall and the foxes, wolves and bears hide among the trees, this children’s play tells you a magical story about family, love and the power of dreams.

•December 3 - Shiney Row Christmas lights switch on

The Shiney Row Christmas lights will be switched on by the Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Barry Curran. There’ll also be carol singing and a performance by Karen Shiel Dance School.

•December 5 - Santa at Monkwearmouth Station Museum

Make a special Christmas train decoration and follow the trail of stars.

There will be a special Christmas Carol performance by Jubilate community choir at 12noon.

•December 9 - Miracle on 34th Street at Arts Centre Washington

When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing.

December 11 to January 3 - Aladdin at Sunderland Empire

Join the heroic Aladdin on a magical carpet ride this Christmas, alongside a host of panto gems including Terence Maynard (Coronation Street’s Tony Stewart) as the evil Abanazar, Alison Hammond (This Morning, Strictly Come Dancing) as the Slave of the Ring and children’s presenter Derek Moran (Channel 5’s Milkshake) as Wishee Washee, plus the mystical Genie, a beautiful Princess and not to mention a flying carpet!