Historic town ready for Houghton Feast

Counting down to Houghton Feast 2014... Coun Anne Lawson, Jessica Regnart from Sunderland Live and Mark Burns Cassell from MBC Ceramics with Bernard Gilpin pupils Kaitlyn Green, Jack Laidler and Kurtis Nell, all aged ten.
Counting down to Houghton Feast 2014... Coun Anne Lawson, Jessica Regnart from Sunderland Live and Mark Burns Cassell from MBC Ceramics with Bernard Gilpin pupils Kaitlyn Green, Jack Laidler and Kurtis Nell, all aged ten.
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A FESTIVAL of music and theatre will launch a popular Wearside celebration.

The 10-day Houghton Feast will be launched tomorrow night with the official switching on of the illuminations and will continue with a huge range of events.

This year the feast, which dates back to the 12th century, will adopt a commemorative theme around the centenary of the start of the First World War and will include both traditional and modern activities.

Councillor Anne Lawson, chairman of Houghton Feast Steering Committee, said: “Adopting the Centenary of the Great War as the theme for Houghton Feast gives us all the opportunity to reflect on the impact the war had on our communities here in Houghton.

“As well as the commemorations, the jam-packed programme also contains the familiar activities that we all enjoy.”

Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Stuart Porthouse, who will switch on the lights, said: “I’m really looking forward to opening this fantastic annual event. It is a great reflection of the outstanding community spirit in the Houghton area, it shows centuries of tradition is still celebrated by young and old alike.

“I encourage everyone from the city to go along and join in the fun, let’s support and keep this annual event in our diary.”

The Broadway will be brought to life from 6.30pm with a range of balloon artists, storytellers and characters before the main stage programme begins at 7pm with the traditional Houghton Feast Tattoo.

The Tattoo is a collection of performances by children and young people and there will be a presentation of a life-size soldier produced by artist Mark Burns Cassell, along with a range of schools and community groups. Chris Alexander, chief operating officer for Sunderland Live, which delivers the event on behalf of Sunderland City Council, said: “We are proud to once again be bringing such a popular event to the city. With its origins in the 12th century, Houghton Feast is the longest-running event on our calendar. It is appropriate that an event that celebrates heritage should take on the mantle of honouring such an important historic event as the beginning of the First World War.”

The feast’s 47th annual ox-roasting event will take place on Monday, honouring Bernard Gilpin’s generous act of feeding Houghton’s poor in the 16th century, and this year the evening will close with a firework display.

For more information about what will be happening during the event, which includes the traditional Saturday parade and resident fairground, visit www.sunderlandlive.co.uk.