Festival announcement: Sunniside Live to return next year

Fans enjoying The Brand New Heavies

Fans enjoying The Brand New Heavies

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Sunderland’s only city centre music festival will be returning for a third year.

It’s been announced today that Sunniside Live will be held in Sunniside Gardens next summer on July 7 and 8.

The Brand New Heavies In Sunniside Live in July 2016

The Brand New Heavies In Sunniside Live in July 2016

For the first time it will run across two days, with live music from late afternoon on Friday and all day and night on the Saturday, which has been timed to run on a different weekend to Southwick’s Summer Streets festival.

Organisers Sean Maddison and Helen Davies, who started the festival to drive footfall to the area, say they have secured a household name to headline the event.

It follows the success of this year’s festival which drew a capacity crowd of 4,000 to the area to see the likes of Brand New Heavies and Shola Ama.

Helen, who runs Sunniside bars Bar Justice and Gin & Bear It with Sean, said: “We had a great response this year and we have a great act as headliner who we will be announcing in the coming days.

“Everyone seemed to love Brand New Heavies and the band said it was the best gig they’ve had in England. They’ve even asked to come back again. Next year’s headliner will be even more well-known.”

Helen said they’re working hard to address any teething problems with the new festival and have been taking feedback on board.

“We’ve listened to what people said this year and will definitely have more bars next year,” she said. “The whole idea behind the festival is to attract more people to Sunniside. Nine years after we opened Bar Justice here, people still don’t know the area exists.

“But the festival is a great way of encouraging people here and they go for food and drink in the businesses around the area, such as Sam’s Bar and Papadoms.”

Early bird tickets will be available from today at a 20% discount, priced £28 for a weekend ticket or £14 for a Friday night ticket and £18 for a Saturday ticket.

Once these tickets are gone, prices will rise to £35 for the weekend or £17.50 for the Friday and £22.50 for the Saturday.

There will also be VIP tickets available, priced from £35 on the early bird offer, which gives VIP access to facilities, an exclusive bar and seating area.

Sean and Helen, who fund the event themselves, say the price rise was necessary to ensure the future of the festival.

Sean said: “I don’t think people realise the festival is privately funded and we need it to start paying for itself so we can pay for the acts, the staging and all the other costs.

“The headline act we have booked charges around £40 per ticket for a gig so it’s still a bargain for two days of live music.”

Main sponsor Sunderland BID say the festival is an important event for driving footfall to the area.

Gemma Dishman, marketing and communications manager, said: “We’re over the moon that Sunniside Live is returning for a third year. The festival goes from strength to strength and each year the acts get bigger and bigger,

“It’s a fantastic, quality event that’s massively important for bringing footfall into the city centre in the summer. People don’t just go to the festival, they go to the surrounding businesses as well, so everyone in the area benefits.”

•Early bird tickets will be available from today at http://sunnisidelive.co.uk/