Wearside Matters: Half-term hotspots in Sunderland
As hundreds of the city's young people enjoy the last few days of half-term, Wearside Matters shares some of the many events and activities to entertain all the family.
1. Top of the list has to be Sunderland’s stunning Illuminations, which are preparing to enter their final week of lighting up the city’s skies.
Roker Park has been transformed into a Festival of Light, with a Disney theme. Open every night of half term, from 5pm – 10pm each night, there is a whole host of sparkling features with family favourites, pirates, dinosaurs and fairies, magically mixing with new Disney additions that will surprise and delight.
An art zone also includes a series of artist-designed light artworks.
The park is also home to a food court and bar area, helter skelter and regular music and entertainment performances on the bandstand.
2. For older teens, how about award-winning theatre to keep them entertained?
Middle Child, a company from Hull, the UK City of Culture 2017, is bringing its latest gig, I Hate Alone, a story about injustice, revenge and friendship, to the city. The story follows Chloe and Danielle, two best friends who decide to turn the tables on everybody who ever wronged them, with violent consequences.
I Hate Alone comes to The Peacock on Thursday October 26, as part of Sunderland Stages. Middle Child wowed audiences and critics alike with their Hull UK City of Culture 2017 commission, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
I Hate Alone is supported by funding from the Arts Council. Tickets are available via ArtsCentreWashington.co.uk at £8.50 for adults, £6 for concessions and £5 for students and under 25s. The show is suitable for people aged 14+.
3. For fans of history, Sunderland’s port is being celebrated at a temporary exhibition, being held at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.
The exhibition brings to life Port of Sunderland’s 300th anniversary and the vital role it has played in the development of the city.
Port 300: 300 years of the River Wear Commissioners and Port of Sunderland had been funded by Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Roker Pier and Lighthouse project as well as MAKE it Sunderland, and features exhibits including paintings and prints, maps, photographs, documents, objects and models from the Museum’s own extensive collections as well as a specially commissioned short film and a programme of events and activities.
4. After a successful FanFest on Monday, the weekend provides an opportunity to cheer on the lads, as they take on Bristol City at the Stadium of Light.
It’s been a tough start to the season for Sunderland AFC, who are languishing in the bottom three in the Sky Bet Championship. Having taken a point in their last game, Simon Grayson will be hoping to steer his side to victory, and take the Red and White Army out of the danger zone.
Tickets can be bought from the ticket office in advance or on the gate. The Peacock in Sunderland is hosting a pre-match talk-in that gets underway three hours before kick-off. The family-friendly event is free for all, and takes place every weekend home match, with Wise Men Say and a special guest each match.
5. Sunderland is looking a little different thanks to a clean up operation, organised by Sunderland BID, with some help from some 3,000 Sunderland College students.
Preparation for Christmas has seen areas of the city painted up, and cleaned, meaning visitors can shop, dine and explore the city in vibrant surroundings; from Park Lane, with bars and restaurants, and independent retailers aplenty, to High Street West home to favourites like M&S and Primark. And with The Bridges shopping centre packed with stores, from H&M to Topshop, there’s plenty to keep shopaholics of all ages entertained.
6. The smash hit musical Mamma Mia takes to Sunderland Empire Theatre this week, injecting a bit of summer sunshine into the dark autumn nights.
Set on a Greek island, the musical features favourites from pop legends ABBA – the perfect backdrop as the show’s leading lady, Sophie, searches for the father she has never known.
Tickets can be found online at atgtickets.com