Dancing on Ice stars will be bringing festive cheer as city leaders pledge to make Sunderland’s Christmas celebrations the finest ever.
Keel Square and part of the former Vaux site will be transformed into the Frost Village in the run-up to December 25, with Andrei Lipanov and Susie Lipanova to lead its ice skating sessions.
This really is going to be a fantastic Christmas in the city centre.Ken Dunbar
They will be joined by CBBC’s Josh and Ellie, with skating princesses and superheroes, polar bear skate aids for youngsters and DJ takeovers by city centre bars, disco sessions and the chance to hit the real-ice arena on Christmas Eve, as well as special parades, also part of the programme.
A traditional Christmas market, managed by a team which has experience of running Edinburgh’s popular market, will serve up Gluwein and bratwurst to shoppers as they take in the 25 stalls offering gifts and crafts.
A funfair featuring a Ferris wheel, carousel, waltzers and bumper cars will also be set up on the ex-brewery site.
Sunderland’s Business Improvement District (BID) is behind the plans, which aim to keep shoppers in the city centre for longer and given them the chance to take part in celebrations on their own doorstep, instead of having to travel to other towns and cities.
Ken Dunbar, chief executive of Sunderland BID, said all the stops had been pulled out to ensure the city centre enjoyed a spectacular Christmas.
“We have been planning this for some time and we really believe we have created a fantastic programme which all the family can enjoy,” he added.
“We hope that not only local people will come and see what’s on offer but that visitors will also come from across the region, which will of course also provide a huge boost for businesses across the city.”
Ice skating sessions are also being offered to schools that might be looking for an alternative to the usual Christmas party or to businesses and groups of friends who may want some early evening entertainment.
Ken said: “This really is going to be a fantastic Christmas in the city centre.
“And we really believe there is something for everyone.”
Businesses have been urged to get on board and run special offers to bring in visitors and keep them in the city centre in the run- up to Christmas.
n Full details, including times and prices, can be found via www.sunderlandchristmas.co.uk.