AROUND 40,000 people flocked to see a city attraction which could pave the way for the return of the much-loved illuminations.
Figures released today show that this year’s Roker Park Lights proved more popular than expected with 40,000 going along to see the Alice in Wonderland-themed display in just three weeks.
The project, which finished earlier this month, has been used by events organisers to gauge public interest in the illuminations.
Since the plug was pulled on the seafront’s winter attraction, many campaigns have been held to bring back the displays. This year’s lights event – which featured a giant Cheshire Cat and White Rabbit lighting up the night sky in Roker Park, as well as a lantern display on the boating lake –- is seen as a step towards the illuminations’ return.
Last month, councillor John Kelly, who is responsible for culture in the city, revealed to the Echo that he hopes former local landmark, the Roker Park Tap, will feature in next year’s Roker Park Lights.
“There is definitely an appetite there for the illuminations, the problem is that we are in a time of real austerity,” he explained. “It’s a balancing act of what we can spend and the desire of the public who want free events that make them feel good. It’s something we want to try and grow every year, given the resources we have, we have to build it up gradually.”
Around 10,000 more people attended the event this year than its inaugural display 12 months ago.
Coun Kelly added: “The lights in Roker Park have once again proved a great hit with visitors. The combination of the fantastic lit displays and free family activities is a shining example of the See it Do it Sunderland campaign, which highlights the wide choice of accessible and family-friendly events and activities for both residents and visitors to enjoy.”
Chris Alexander, chief operating officer of Sunderland Live, who delivered the event on behalf of Sunderland City Council, added: “Roker Park Lights has proved a massive success this year, with lots of positive feedback and fantastic visitor numbers.”