REVIEW: Seen in the City’s take on Sanctuary at Sunderland Minster

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Sunderland Minster has been displaying its ‘altar’ ego – as a gig space.

The church isn’t an obvious choice for such an event, but, in some ways, it’s absolutely perfect.

Churches were built in a manner that allows sound, whether from sermon or song, to travel.

As such, it made for a stunning and acoustically-impressive host for Sanctuary.

The first event of its kind, organised by a satellite group of Seaburn Rotary, the three-day festival featured music, food and drink stalls.

Though a small minority have grumbled about beer, ale and champagne stalls being set up in a church, everyone I encountered at the event was respectful of their surroundings.

And the novelty of it all taking place in a city landmark, instead of the more obvious choice of a tent in a field, lured festival-goers young and 
old.

Pensioners were spotted perched on pews tucking in to Scotch eggs by Juniper’s Pantry deli, based in Barnes, while twenty-somethings quaffed Pimms from a champagne bar set up by Sunderland Marriott and younger ones raced around the deck chairs set up on the grass outside.

Musical entertainment came from the likes of folk indie act The Lake Poets who sounded even more soulful than usual as he performed against the stunning backdrop of the church’s stained glass.

Organisers have said they hope the weekend’s triumphant celebration of local music and food will be the first of many Sanctuaries, let’s pray it is.