New Sunderland Soul Food and Music festival gets off to sunny start - here's what to expect if you pay a visit

A new food and music festival has got off to a sunny start as it spans two prime city centre spots.

Friday, 10th June 2022, 4:49 pm

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Soul Food and Music Festival kicked off on Friday, June 10, for three days of street food traders, demos and music which is taking over Keel Square as well as a specially-constructed stage over the road on the old Vaux site.

Food stalls, selling everything from churros and pina coladas to posh kebabs and German sausage, are running from 11am each day at Keel Square, on June 10, 11 and 12, as well as a programme of food demos.

Then, the music side of the programme, called Souled Out, is taking place on Plot 12, a new pop-up stage and bar area constructed for the event next to City Hall with performances from acts such as The King Cush Band, Voices of Virtue choir, Groove Train, Vandebilt and Smoove & Turrell.

Soul Food and Music Festival in Keel Square, with an additional site next to City Hall

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Street food traders are also in place on Plot 12 including pizza from Scream For Pizza and Caribbean food from Calabash Tree.

Sharon Appleby from organisers Sunderland BID, who teamed up with Hairy Bikers’ Si King for the event, said it was a great way to showcase what Sunderland can offer festival-wise.

"It’s a great way to showcase the two sites,” she said. “There’s so many changes happening in the city, people can see that, and this is something that’s a bit different. There’s a real appetite for events like this.

"Last weekend we had Ed Sheeran in the city and we had circus acts in the city centre, which really got people engaged. This weekend, we have the return of Pride, Soul Food and Music, St Etienne and Futureheads at the Fire Station and Footloose at the Empire – there’s a lot happening for people.

Sunderland's Souled Out Festival at Keel Square. Doughvine Desserts trader Patrick Cooper.

"It’s great to see the footfall in the city centre that events like these are generating.”

Dayna and Patrick Cooper are one of the traders on site at Keel Square for the weekend who are serving up churros and funnel cakes through their Doughvine Desserts van.

Dayna, from Hetton, said: “We do quite a few food festivals and this is a great location in the city centre. There’s a lot of stuff going on in Sunderland at the minute and it’s great to see.”

Over, the road, the music side of the festival takes place each evening and is ticketed with tickets, priced £15, available from the website in advance on soulfoodmusicfestival.co.uk or on the door.

Sunderland's Souled Out Festival at Keel Square. Leanne Errington and Emma Elliott from Mint Mangement.

Paul Watson from Wannasee events, who’ve constructed the stage, said: “This site has got great potential so hopefully people come down and support it. As well as the bands, there’s a really good food offering and the weather’s supposed to stay nice.”

Si King, who curated the event, said: "Events like this literally bring the city alive again and I know there will be a groundswell of support. A continual programme of cultural events helps to create a culture of stake holding and ownership within the community.

"The biggest role the people in Sunderland can play is to come and support what’s going on because it’s for them. I can come up and make suggestions and help, but it’s their city."

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Sunderland's Souled Out Festival at Keel Square.
Sunderland's Souled Out Festival at Keel Square. Trader Hcolefom Flltselkan.
Sunderland's Souled Out Festival at Keel Square.
A stage and street food area has been constructed on the Riverside development next to City Hall
Sunderland's Souled Out Festival at Keel Square.
Sunderland's Souled Out Festival at Keel Square.