Christmas kicks off in Sunderland tonight – a few days late.
The city’s Christmas lights switch-on, which was originally scheduled for Thursday but postponed due to Storm Abigail, will be held in Keel Square from 6.30pm. X Factor star Andrea Faustini will join Mayor of Sunderland Coun Barry Curran to flick the switch.
Tonight’s launch will be the start of a comprehensive calendar of events for Christmas this year, with 150 festive fun activities for all the family.
Keel Square is to become a festive Frost Village, complete with open-air ice rink and traditional Christmas Market, and the former Vaux site will be home to a Christmas fun fair between Thursday, November 26, and Christmas Eve, delivered by Sunderland BID.
Sunderland Business Group chairman Gary Hutchinson urged city businesses and organisations to help take the list of activities on offer beyond 150, creating a comprehensive line-up of events to make Sunderland the centrepiece for Christmas in 2015.
“We are determined to make this the best Christmas across our city,” he said Gary.
“Few cities will be able to boast the variety of strong events that are planned across Sunderland and fewer still who have had the wherewithal to pull everything together to help people plan their party season. .”
Highlights of the programme include a one-man version of A Christmas Carol at the Canny Space, the Mayor’s Carol Service at Sunderland Minster, crown-making at the Winter Gardens and the annual Christmas Grotto in the Bridges, giving little ones the chance to meet Santa Claus.
City council car parks will be free after 3pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until January 1, while The Bridges will offer free parking between 5.30pm and 9pm, Monday to Friday, from December 7 to December 23.