SunLun Calling to replace Sunniside Live as huge festival returns to Sunderland city centre
Calling all music fans – a reborn music festival is bringing a host of top acts to Sunniside.
SunLun Calling is set to bring three days of live music and entertainment to Sunniside Gardens next summer when it replaces the area’s Sunniside Live festival.
During its five years in Sunniside Gardens, Sunniside Live brought a host of big names to the city such as Happy Mondays, Reverend and the Makers, The Lightning Seeds, The Farm, Heather Small, Brand New Heavies, Cast and many more.
The last festival was in 2018, but now the Echo can reveal that the organisers are bringing the event back as SunLun Calling.
Taking place from July 7-9, 2023, it will feature three whole days of entertainment from noon until 11.30pm.
The first wave of acts have been announced for the Sunday of the event, which will be a day of Sunderland music.
Headliners The Futureheads will cap off the festival, with Tom A.Smith, Smoove & Turrell, The Lake Poets, This Little Bird, Vandebilt, The Voyd and more performing.
The Friday line-up will be announced in the coming weeks and will feature household names. The Saturday, meanwhile, will feature the annual Sunderland Pride celebration which will also feature a day of music.
Sean Maddison and Helen Maddison, who also have Sunniside’s Bar Justice, had great success running Sunniside Live privately and said they can’t wait to welcome the crowds back for SunLun Calling.
"We absolutely love to organise these festivals and it’s great to see the area full of people. Sunniside Live was hugely popular and would sell out, and over the years a lot of people have asked us about when it would be back,” said Sean. “We’re expecting 12,000-15,000 people across the weekend, which is great for the surrounding businesses, as well as the city as a whole.”
He added: “There’s some great things being done across the city in live music, with Ben Wall at Independent, Paul Callaghan at Fire Station, Michael McKnight at Pop Recs and Alex Hutchinson at Kubix. You don’t need to go to Newcastle anymore for great live music, and we’re proud to be a part of that.”
Barry Hyde from The Futureheads said it was great to see the return of live music to Sunniside.
"I came down to Sunniside Live many times to see acts like Happy Mondays, Hyde & Beast and Frankie & the Heartstrings,” he said. “It always had a great atmosphere in a great part of Sunderland with all its Victorian opulence and we’re delighted to be headlining its return.
"The Futureheads are very proud to be from Sunderland and we want to see it be as vibrant as possible.”
As well as performing at the festival, Barry will also be teaming up with Sean and Helen to give the chance for some of his students from the Northern Academy of Music Education, which is based at The Fire Station, to perform.
One of Barry’s former music students is 18-year-old Tom A.Smith who is enjoying a meteoric rise – and he says it’s great to be performing on home turf at SunLun Calling.
The East Rainton teenager has been writing music and gigging since primary school and the past year has seen his career really soar.
He has already worked with some of the best in the business, including playing live with Sam Fender and Catfish & The Bottlemen – as well as supporting Elton John at Hyde Park and performing at Glastonbury all in one weekend.
Already a BBC Radio 1 favourite, his most recent release, Like You Do, has seen him team up with Miles Kane.
Tom, who will also be playing next month’s Waves Festival in the city, said: “I haven’t had the opportunity to play in Sunderland much for the past three years so to have these festivals is amazing.
"I played Sunniside Live when The Lightning Seeds were on and England were enjoying their World Cup run, which was a fantastic atmosphere.
"To be back next year and performing under Barry and The Futureheads is dead exciting.”
:: Tickets for the Sunday of SunLun Calling go on sale from 3pm on Wednesday, October 26 with the early bird price of £10. Tickets are available from EventBrite.