How the Spice Girls gig at the Stadium of Light will kick off a great summer of events in Sunderland
Sunderland is set for a spicy summer, as the return of big gigs to the Stadium of Light kick-starts a packed programme of events.
The home of Sunderland AFC is preparing to welcome up to 50,000 Spice Girls fans next week as the city plays host to one of the most iconic groups of all time.
The event on Thursday, June 6, represents the starting gun on a string of events that will keep people of all ages entertained right through until the autumn.
With £4million set to pour into Sunderland economy, as traders across the city benefit from some 25,000-plus fans from outside the city - as well as an anticipated 10,000-plus locals - attending the city's first stadium gig in three years.
But the gig, which is part of the reformed girl group's Spice World 2019 tour, is only the start of what should be a boom time for businesses in the city.
It's closely followed by Sunderland Food & Drink Fest, a new event for the city centre which will take place from Friday, June 21, to Sunday, June 23, bringing a host of international flavours to Sunderland.
Then there's Sunderland Airshow, which sees visitors numbers to the city soar every July - this time taking place from Friday, July 26, to Sunday, July 28.
And a Sand Sculpture Event, with a beachside theme, will attract crowds to Seaburn Beach on Sunday, August 18.
There is also a Sunderland River Festival planned for the weekend of August 31 to September 1, at St Peter's Riverside and Low Street, which will build on the success of the Tall Ships in 2018.
And sounds will fill the streets during the last weekend of September, with a new Sunderland Music Festival planned for the city centre.
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Coun Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, which supported the Spice Girls concert at the Stadium of Light, said: “Sunderland is building its reputation as an events city, a place capable of staging stunning large-scale events that are of real quality and that help attract a different audience to the city.
“As we build this reputation, we are seeing the number of people coming to the city increase. 8.76 million people visited Sunderland in 2017. This was up by 6 per cent on 2016.
"And with them, they brought £429million of additional income, up by five per cent on 2016. It is Sunderland’s traders that see the benefit of this and local people, who secure related jobs as a result.
“We’re determined to ensure that both residents and visitors are able to enjoy fantastic events - from the long list of summer events focused on music, art and culture, to health and wellness orientated activities, like our BIG Walk events that run year-round.”
The number of days visitors spent in the city was up by six per cent year on year last year at 9.7 million visitor days, and the number of people directly employed in tourism the city’s tourism sector stood at 4,157, up by five per cent.
Sunderland AFC managing director Tony Davison, who - along with owners Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven, has been keen to see concerts return to the Stadium of Light - said: “The concerts really do bring a huge feelgood factor to Sunderland, and there’s already a sense of that excitement building.
“We are delighted to be kicking off a busy summer of events, supported by Sunderland City Council, that will make for a fantastic few months for the city, building into the autumn and winter season, when, as well as being in the thick of the football season - which in itself attracts huge visitor numbers to Sunderland - there will be a great deal of other city events leading us towards Christmas and the New Year.”
The concert has already been warmly welcomed by a host of business leaders, including Sunderland Business Partnership chair, Ellen Thinnesen, who said: “The stadium concerts bring huge advantage to Sunderland, and the Business Group is fully supportive of the club and council working together to reinstate them. It will make for a fantastic day for the whole city.”
A crowd of almost 50,000 is expected for the Spice Girls gig, and a limited amount of hospitality packages are still available. Standard tickets are also available from Ticketmaster.