Festive fun as Sunderland celebrates Christmas lights switch on featuring choirs, panto stars and Santa Claus himself

Sunderland has celebrated the 2021 Christmas light switch on with a host of activities held at Keel Square, featuring choirs, panto stars and even Santa Claus himself.

The switch on was hosted by presenter and comedian Steve Walls with the honours of turning on the lights going to Mayor Cllr Harry Trueman and panto stars Su Pollard, Miss Rory and Tom Whalley.

As well as the light switch on, the event also saw festive performances from Grangetown Primary school choir, Monkwearmouth and Millfield Salvation Army Band, Sunderland Empire Academy, carol singers, and a sparkling finale from the Spark! Drummers.

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The audience were also treated to a special visit from Santa Claus who delivered a special Christmas message to the children of Sunderland ahead of the big day next month.

Mayor Cllr Harry Trueman and Sunderland Empire Panto stars including Su Pollard turn on the Christmas lights at Keel Square.

Mayor of Sunderland, Cllr Harry Trueman said: “I absolutely love Christmas! After the sad couple of years we’ve had I think people are really looking forward to a Christmas with family. It’s great to see so many people out tonight, as early as it is, already turning up.

“It’s great to have a bit of normality back and that’s what people are looking for. People are sensible enough to stay safe and we’re a friendly set of people in Sunderland and we love each other so let's enjoy Christmas.”

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TV legend and panto star Su Pollard will be playing The Wicked Queen in the Sunderland Empire performance of Snow White, while Miss Rory will play Nurse Rorina and Tom Whalley plays Muddles the Jester.

Alongside the annual Christmas Lights Switch On, this year will see an exciting array of festive fun including a funfair and food stalls right next to Keel Square in Crowtree Road.

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Cllr Trueman added: "There are so many more exciting activities for families to enjoy this winter too, with Sunderland Empire’s pantomime, the return of the ice rink to Keel Square, Santa’s Grotto back in The Bridges and a firework display planned for New Year’s Eve.

“We would encourage visitors to plan ahead so they can make the most of everything that Christmas in Sunderland has to offer.”

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