Children get special early view of Sunderland Illuminations ahead of grand launch

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Youngsters from Sunderland's special needs schools were given a sneak preview of the city's lights.

The children from schools for pupils with additional needs, were among the guests of honour at a special preview evening for this year’s Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light last night.

Katie McCutcheon with  Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Doris MacKnight.

Katie McCutcheon with Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Doris MacKnight.

The lights, which will be officially switched on tonight, will run until November 5.

But, children and their families from schools including Sunningdale, Columbia Grange, Barbara Priestman, Biddick Academy, Farringdon Community Academy and Oxclose were invited to share a first glimpse of this year’s display in Roker Park.

It includes new attractions ‘Disney Characters in Lights’ and the award winning, interactive ‘Heart Beat’ light installation.

The children were joined by the Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Doris MacKnight with Mayoral Consort, Keith MacKnight, and Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Coun John Kelly.

VIP guests enjoy a preview of the spectacular Sunderland Iluminations.

VIP guests enjoy a preview of the spectacular Sunderland Iluminations.

The annual Sunderland Illuminations has become one the biggest events in the North East calendar and is expected to attract large numbers of visitors to Sunderland’s seafront.

Coun MacKnight, said: “The preview evening has become a special annual occasion giving the children who might struggle to get a good view in a crowd, the chance to see the lights close up with their friends and family.

“It’s great to see so many smiling faces, and people’s reaction to some of the new attractions alongside the more established crowd favourites in the park.”

Pirates and fairies feature at this year’s Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light, alongside traditional Disney favourites Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy with dinosaurs and characters from the movie Frozen along the stretches of lighting displays for people to enjoy.

Guests with Minnie Mouse at the illuminations.

Guests with Minnie Mouse at the illuminations.

The event will again see the seafront lit up with an exciting display of traditional lights and the return of the big wheel and fairground to Cliffe Park, which will operate every night from tonight to November 5, from 5pm to 10pm.

The event will close on November 5 with a spectacular fireworks display at 6pm along the seafront.

For more information on tickets and display information visit www.seeitdoitsunderland.co.uk/illuminations.

The Sunderland Illuminations at Roker Park.

The Sunderland Illuminations at Roker Park.

Something out of the ordinary at the illuminations in Roker Park.

Something out of the ordinary at the illuminations in Roker Park.

Let's hope no-one is exterminated by this Dalek when they visit Roker Park.

Let's hope no-one is exterminated by this Dalek when they visit Roker Park.

A mini version of the Wear Crossing in Roker Park.

A mini version of the Wear Crossing in Roker Park.