THIS year’s Houghton Feast celebrations get under way tonight with a packed programme of events.
The ancient festival, which dates back to the 12th century, is being officially opened with the switching on of the feast illuminations, at The Broadway, at 7pm.
Mayor of Sunderland Coun Norma Wright will do the honours at the event, which will feature music, fireworks and performances from schools in the area around the theme of this year’s Feast, which is Myths and Legends.
Coun Wright said: “I am delighted to be taking part in the opening ceremony of the Houghton Feast.
“It is a festival which is steeped in tradition and I am only too aware of what it means to the local community.
“I can’t wait to see the performances and I am sure everyone who joins in the celebrations will have a fantastic time.”
Tomorrow sees the 45th annual carnival parade take place, with many colourful floats as well as classic cars.
Community groups in Houghton will feature in the parade, which begins at Kepier Medical Centre at 2pm before travelling through the town.
Sports fans are in for a treat with the annual Feast rugby match.
Houghton Rugby Club play host to Jarrovians RC for the game on Saturday at 3pm.
St Michael and All Angel’s Church will host the Festival Civic Service on Sunday, at 10.30am.
The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, the Dean of Durham Cathedral, is the preacher at this year’s service.
The famous roasting of the ox will be held at Rectory Field on Monday at 4pm.
Those wanting to go along and tuck into an ox sandwich will be helping good causes with all proceeds from sales going to charities.
Crime novel fans are in for a treat, as best-selling author Sheila Quigley teams up with Houghton historian Paul Lanagan on an exclusive investigation of fictional murder scenes from Sheila’s novels.
The event, Homicide in Houghton Six, takes place on Saturday, October 15, from 2pm to 4pm.
To book a place call 561 6383.
This year’s Feast comes to a close the day after, one of the highlights being the annual Family Walk at Herrington Country Park.
The walk has a “rolling start” between 1pm and 2pm. To register call 561 8433.
For more on all Houghton Feast 2011 events go to www.sunderland.gov.uk.