Diwali celebrations in Sunderland attract thousands of visitors

Thousands of people embraced Diwali celebrations in Sunderland as the annual festival proved to be bigger than ever before.

The event took over the National Glass Centre, and attracted more than 4,000 visitors as people from all different cultures came together to mark the Hindu festival of light.

Bhangra dancers performing at Sunderland's Diwali Festival.

Bhangra dancers performing at Sunderland's Diwali Festival.

Entertainment included Bollywood and Bhangra dancing, music, make-up demonstrations, face painting, classical dancing, a fashion stall, yoga and arts and crafts.

For organiser Kam Chera, the event was more successful than he could have hoped for.

He said: "I'm overwhelmed with how well the day went.

"It was bigger and busier than last year, when it was held at the Museum and Winter Gardens.

Bhangra dancers performing at Sunderland's Diwali Festival.

Bhangra dancers performing at Sunderland's Diwali Festival.

"You could feel the atmosphere and the positivity in the building, and it was amazing to be a part of.

"Visitors seemed to really embrace the chance to learn about the Diwali story and explore Indian culture in what was a fantastic venue."

People were also given the chance to have a go at traditional dancing themselves as Bollywood and Bhangra workshops were held.

Support behind the scenes came from volunteers from a variety of cultures, including those from the Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Sikh communities.

Vijayalakshmi Subramani with her fruit carvings at Sunderland's Diwali Festival.

Vijayalakshmi Subramani with her fruit carvings at Sunderland's Diwali Festival.

Harry Collinson, who also played a major part in organising the event, said: "Once again, this was a fantastic event in the city.

"As well as families of Indian descent, it was brilliant to see others from all cultures coming along to join in the celebrations and learn about the festival.

"There was something for people of all ages to enjoy, and it was great to see the response from the public.

"The main purpose of the event is to bring different people and cultures together, and it certainly did that.

Dancer Aswathy Sunil at Sunderland's Diwali Festival, at the National Glass Centre.

Dancer Aswathy Sunil at Sunderland's Diwali Festival, at the National Glass Centre.

"It was wonderful to see the diversity of the city celebrated."

Iraa Kadchha was another of those involved in organising the festival.

She said: "This was a great opportunity to celebrate the multi-cultural and diverse community there is in Sunderland.

"It was such a lovely atmosphere, with families from all cultures coming along to enjoy the event.

"It was really lovely to have such a variety of people to join in the celebrations.

"We aimed to provide a variety of entertainment and activities, giving visitors a real flavour of the country of India.

Bhangra dancers performing at Sunderland's Diwali Festival.

Bhangra dancers performing at Sunderland's Diwali Festival.

"To see thousands of people come through the door to support the event was brilliant."

Bollywood make up artist Suman Kaur applies make-up to Rajan Basra at Sunderland's Diwali Festival.

Bollywood make up artist Suman Kaur applies make-up to Rajan Basra at Sunderland's Diwali Festival.

Bhangra dancers performing at Sunderland's Diwali Festival.

Bhangra dancers performing at Sunderland's Diwali Festival.