Sunderland Illuminations ready to shine

Sunderland Illuminations last year.
Sunderland Illuminations last year.
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Sunderland is switched on for an evening of fun to launch the illuminations.

A laser display is set to thrill the crowds at the Sunderland Illuminations switch-on launch event this weekend.

Special guest and ambassador for Sunderland, Lauren Laverne will join Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Paul Watson, for the event at Seaburn’s Cliffe Park on Saturday, September 26, at 7pm.

They will bring to life a spectacular array of Alice in Wonderland installations and exciting new features such as a sea of stars, the Tardis and a Dalek.

There will be 3D projections of history of Sunderland onto the lighthouse on Cliffe Park, dancing fountains and lights, caves with skeletons and gremlins as well as a whole range of fun family activities

Coun Watson said: “I hope to see everyone come along with family and friends and make the most of this fantastic occasion.

“The Sunderland Illuminations is rapidly developing into something truly special for the city and our fantastic coastline. This annual event is arguably the biggest event of its type in the North East and it is something we should not only go along to and enjoy, but also be proud of as it puts the city firmly on the map.”

Last year almost 150,000 people visited the event and this year organisers are aiming to make it even bigger and better than before. There is also the added incentive of finding the newly imagined “Tap” feature somewhere in Roker Park.

Alfie Joey from BBC Newcastle will host a packed event programme from 7pm to 9pm and there will be a live music, movement and lighting spectacular from Spark! Drummers and illuminated Alice characters as they guide the audience from Roker Park to Cliffe Park for the big switch on.

Coun Watson added: “I’d like to thank our partners Aurora/Balfour Beatty Living Places, Blackpool Council and Sunderland Live as well as all my council colleagues for their hard work in delivering such a fantastic event.

“I’d also like to thank in particular, the local businesses and partners who have both sponsored and supported our ambition to provide residents and visitors to the city and indeed the region, an event that everyone can be proud of.”

Possibly the best way to see the lights all along Whitburn Road will be by the new Road Train which is making its first appearance, or for the ultimate viewpoint there is the 32m illuminated observation wheel in a prominent position on Cliffe Park, where there will be a new addition of a roller rink.

Park and ride will be in operation from the city centre, every 20 minutes on Thursdays to Sundays, picking up from the bus stop opposite Keel Square, at the former Vaux site and is free on presentation of valid parking ticket, for anyone who parks in St Mary’s or Sunniside car parks.

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Timetable for switch on:

7pm - Welcome from compere.

7.05pm - Performance by winners of City Sings, St Anthony’s Catholic Girls’ Academy.

7.20pm - Parade start from Roker Park by Spark Drummers.

7.30pm - Spark performance at Main Arena

8pm - Welcome to Lauren Laverne, speech by the leader of Sunderland, countdown to switch on of lights.

8.07pm - Laser Show.

8.14pm - Laser Show Ends.

8.25pm - Performance by swing band Big Muddy.

9pm - Compere closes stage programme.

What’s on and where during the Sunderland Illuminations, from September 26 to November 1.

•Bede’s Cross

Small children’s rides open every day of the event, 4pm-10pm.

•Cliffe Park

Illuminated Observation Wheel open launch night 6pm-10pm and then every day of the event 4pm-10pm.

•Roller Rink

Open Thursdays to Sundays from 1 October, 4pm-10pm and every day of half term. Book online in advance

•Ocean Park

Large fun fair open every day of the event, 4pm- 10pm.

•Land Train

Running from 4pm to 10pm, Thursdays to Sundays and every day at half term. Pick up and drop off points are Roker Park, Queens Parade and Cliffe Park.

•Model Railway, Roker Park

Running every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening between 5pm-8pm for the duration of the illuminations. There is no charge, but donations welcomed.

•Park and Ride

Running Thursdays to Sundays and half term. Service runs every 20 minutes from city centre. Route is from St Mary’s Boulevard (bus stop opposite Keel Square) via Wearmouth Bridge, Wheatsheaf Gyratory, Dame Dorothy Street, Harbour View, Roker Terrace and Whitburn Road to Seaburn Morrison’s roundabout. Cost is £1.50 per adult single trip, £2.50 per adult return, and £1.10 for a child day ticket. Under 5s travel free.

•Park and walk

University of Sunderland St Peter’s campus car park, £1.60 for whole evening from 5pm.

•Cliffe Park

Lighthouse with 3D mapping projection. 5 minute history of Sunderland.

•Marine Walk

Motif lighting, primary coloured lighting display and starflower projection on cliffs.

•Roker Park

Image projection, projections in caves, sea of stars at the lake, illuminated tap, Alice in Wonderland features, Tardis and Dalek and dancing fountains and lights.