Sunderland at Christmas: Hadrian's Tipi, ice rink and reindeer dash set to return for city's festive celebrations

A winter wonderland promises to bring Christmas cheer to Sunderland as plans are unveiled for this year’s celebrations.

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 11:25 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 6:21 pm
Hadrian's Tipi was set up in Keel Square last year, but will move to the former Crowtree Leisure Centre site for Christmas 2019.

Organisers say they have drawn up ambitious plans for the Festival of Light at Mowbray Park and the return of Hadrian’s Tipi are just some of the highlights that local people and visitors can experience as part of Christmas in the city.

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The Festival of Light will see a whole range of new light installations and events at Mowbray Park every Thursday to Sunday, from Thursday, November 21 to Sunday, December 22.

Richard McCourt, who is stared in the Sunderland Empire's panto Peter Pan, and Santa helped launch the Reindeer Dash last December.

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Danieli Holdings, which operates the tent, has promised it will be bigger and better than last year.

The ice rink will return to Keel Square with a funfair in High Street West, Market Square and at Crowtree, while the Reindeer Dash run and the Business Shopping Night will return.

The city’s BID and Sunderland City Council have jointly created the programme, starting with the Christmas lights switch-on event to be held on Thursday, November 21.

The ice rink in Keel Square has proved popular for families in previous years.

Organisers hope the festivities will prove a huge boost for the city’s economy, bringing in visitors from across the region and beyond.

Sharon Appleby, head of business operations at Sunderland BID, believes that the packed programme will give retailers in the city the opportunity to make it a bumper Christmas.

“We know how many visitors went to the Festival of Light when it was at Roker Park and how many people came to the tipi last year,” she said.

“We hope that retailers will take advantage of this increased footfall in the city centre to benefit their businesses.”

Councillor John Kelly, cabinet member for communities and culture, said: “There’s always lots going on in and around the city centre over the Christmas period, and this year looks to be the best one yet.”