Disney characters to help Sunderland Illuminations shine even brighter

The Big Wheel is coming back to Wearside for this year's Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light.
The Big Wheel is coming back to Wearside for this year's Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light.

Delightful Disney favourites and dynamic dinosaurs will light up the dark Sunderland seafront this winter.

The themes for this year’s celebration will include cartoon favourites and prehistoric beasts, as well as pirates and fairies.

The light display in the lake of Roker Park last year.

The light display in the lake of Roker Park last year.

The Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light will welcome Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and characters from Frozen to shine at the annual extravaganza.

The event will see the seafront lit up with an display of traditional lights and welcome back the big wheel and fairground on the Cliffe Park site, operating every night from Thursday, October 5, to Sunday, November 5, from 5pm to 10pm.

Tickets go on sale online today for the Festival of Light in Roker Park, which will run between the same times from Thursday to Sunday and all week during school half-term.

The new installations will complement the annual favourites, such as the Alice in Wonderland characters.

Every year we challenge ourselves to do them better than the year before, and I think residents and visitors alike will get a real kick out of what we have planned for this year.

Councillor John Kelly

Sunderland City Council has also struck up a partnership with the Sunderland Empire to become official ticket sponsors.

Anyone buying tickets online for the display will receive a discount when booking up for its Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime.

Councillor John Kelly, cabinet member for public health, wellness and culture, said: “The illuminations and Festival of Light are mainstays of the Sunderland events calendar, which bring tens of thousands of people into the city and to our beautiful seafront.

“Every year we challenge ourselves to do them better than the year before, and I think residents and visitors alike will get a real kick out of what we have planned for this year.”

Like 2016, visitors will be required to pay a small fee of £1 online booking or £2 at the gate to access Roker Park – however, for ticket entry, the Empire will deduct £1 from the cost of a pantomime ticket.

Bosses say this means anyone planning to see the panto will access to festival for free.

Ben Phillips, the theatre’s general manager, said: “Like the Sunderland Illuminations, our annual pantomime is part of what winter in the city is all about for many people. 
“It seemed to make perfect sense to partner up and work as a team to showcase the city to as many people as possible.

People can find out more and to book tickets visit www.seeitdoitsunderland.co.uk/illuminations.