Crowds turn out in force to enjoy opening night of Sunderland Illuminations

Crowds flocked to the first night of the Sunderland Illuminations and the Festival of Light to check out this year’s colourful light displays.

The opening night this evening saw families and visitors admire the new attractions in Roker Park which include a Winter Wonderland feature and a mystical Underwater Kingdom Projection.

Opening night of Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light. Katy Harper with Roman Harper, nine months and Connor Widdrington with children Mason, two, and Elle Widdrington, one.

Opening night of Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light. Katy Harper with Roman Harper, nine months and Connor Widdrington with children Mason, two, and Elle Widdrington, one.

Also new this year was an 18 metre-high ‘Sunderland Sphere’ illuminated dome, which gives visitors the chance to have messages to loved ones displayed on the huge spherical screens.

Visitor favourites such as Disney characters including the Frozen and Alice in Wonderland displays were also a huge hit once again, along with Witches and Wizards, Doctor Who and Pirates.

The spectacular, illuminated ‘Fabulous Fountains’ returned to light up the park’s lake, where visitors also found the iconic ‘Sunderland Tap’.

Robyn Couchman, 28, from North Shields, was there with son Harry Costello, one.

Opening night of Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light. 'From left Kyle Kirtley, three, James Lamb, five, and Jayden Mattocks, three.

Opening night of Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light. 'From left Kyle Kirtley, three, James Lamb, five, and Jayden Mattocks, three.

She said: “This is the first time we have come along to see the illuminations.

“We saw that it was happening on Facebook and the photos from previous years looked really good, so we decided to come along.

“I think its lush.”

Chloe Shoesmith, 20, was there with son Jayden Mattocks, three, and friend Sophie Kirtley, 26, who had also brought along sons Kyle Kirtley, three, and James Lamb, five.

From left Layla Wood, 13, Clay Bulmer, five, Lexx Knight, 10 and Jessica Prudhoe, 15.

From left Layla Wood, 13, Clay Bulmer, five, Lexx Knight, 10 and Jessica Prudhoe, 15.

The group from Hendon were delighted to see the lights once again.

Sophie said: "We come every year and they are fantastic.

"The kids love them and they have been excited about seeing them all day."

Emma Taylor, 34, and Zoe Bulmer, 36, from Sunderland and Bishop Auckland, had come along to see the displays with Layla Wood, 13, Lexx Night, 10, Clay Bulmer, five, and Jessica Prudhoe, 15.

Robyn  Couchman with son Harry Costello one, at the illuminations.

Robyn Couchman with son Harry Costello one, at the illuminations.

Emma said: "We come every year and they are really good, we have been looking forward to it."

Katy Harper, 22, from Whitley Bay, was there with partner Connor Widdrington, 22, from Newcastle.

Connor had brought along daughter Elle Widdrington, one, and son Mason Widdrington, two, who were joined by Roman Harper, nine months.

Connor said: This is the third year running we have been and I think its really good."

Katy said: "Its really good we come every year and it gets the kids in the Christmas spirit."

The event will run until Sunday, November 18.

Michelle Barraclough and Ian Wake.

Michelle Barraclough and Ian Wake.

While you need to book your tickets to get into the park, there’s lots to enjoy along the seafront and on Cliffe Park, including the giant big wheel and fairground as well as food stalls with music and lights.

To book illuminations tickets online and to put a message on the new globe, please visit: www.seeitdoitsunderland.co.uk/illuminations.

Opening night of Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light.

Opening night of Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light.

Attractions along the sea front at Roker.

Attractions along the sea front at Roker.

Colourful Disney characters make up some of the illuminations in Roker Park.

Colourful Disney characters make up some of the illuminations in Roker Park.

Pirate themed lights were a hit with youngsters.

Pirate themed lights were a hit with youngsters.

A new attraction this year was the 18 metre-high Sunderland Sphere illuminated dome.

A new attraction this year was the 18 metre-high Sunderland Sphere illuminated dome.