Christmas has arrived in Sunderland as festive lights switched on across the city

Dancing to musical Christmas hits and trying to keep warm with a hot chocolate, hundreds of people gathered in Keel Square for the annual Christmas lights switch-on in Sunderland.

Thursday, 21st November 2019, 8:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st November 2019, 8:50 pm

Set beside the ice rink, which is now open for the festive season, hundreds gathered to cheer on performers and enjoy a fireworks display as the Christmas lights were switched on by deputy mayor Coun Harry Trueman alongside Sunderland Empire panto stars Jon Moses and Gemma Naylor.

The crowds enjoyed performances from Grangetown Primary School, Channy Thompson, Spark Drummers and a rendition of Rockin’ Robin by the panto stars.

Among the crowd were Sunderland residents Hannah Haley, 25, and Elle Hazel, 13, who had braved the cold weather to see the fireworks display.

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Sunderland Christmas Lights switch-on in Keel Square.

“It’s a really cold evening but we come every year and we really enjoy it,” said Hannah.

“We’ll get a hot chocolate to warm up and watch the display. I think it’s brilliant, a great way to start Christmas.”

Families descended on the square and some of the biggest cheers were for the choir from Grangetown Primary School who performed a number of songs including their own song ‘Grangetown’.

Among the families enjoying the event was Shona Sloanes, 40, with partner Anthony Crowe, 39, and children Jason, 11, and Danny Crowe, eight.

Amazing performances

Shona said: “We come every year, it’s a good evening for the kids to enjoy. It’s a good atmosphere and we enjoy watching the fireworks.”

Over at Mowbray Park, people were getting into the festive spirit at the Festival of Light – which opened for the first time on Thursday, November 21.

Among the first visitors were Marie Harrison, 39, with daughter Mia, 10, of Seaham said it’s brilliant to see the event in Mowbray Park.

“I think it’s fantastic. It’s great to see something like this in the city centre, I know you have to buy tickets now but I think it’s definitely worth it.

The crowd excited for the switch-on

“It’s great to be able to walk around the park and see all the different installations. My favourite is the reindeer carriage and Mia loves the train.”

The Festival of Light is open Thursday to Sunday form 4pm to 9pm until December 22. Tickets available online.

Mowbray Park's Festival of Light
The hot air balloon in Mowbray Park