Groups and schools from the communities of Hendon and the East End gave a warm Wearside welcome to the international crews of the Tall Ships Races in a colourful parade.
Community groups including Sunderland Sikh Association, St Ignatius Church, Stella Maris Drop In Centre, Sunderland Roller Derby League, school children, Scout’s groups and more have spent months crafting banners and costumes to welcome crews and visitors to Port of Sunderland.
The lively parade capped off the first day of the rich cultural programme being staged as part of the spectacle, which will see more than 200 performances staged over the four event zones until Saturday evening.
Over the course of the day Event Zone A and B, centered around the port and the East End, also saw performances from George Shovlin and the Radars and pit pop colliery band Dennis on the special Town Moor stage, while street dancers brought crowds to a standstill with hula hooping and more on a smaller stage on the East Dock.
Meanwhile, a Georgian fair featuring period costumes and more, was held at Holy Trinity Church.
Victoria French, head of events at Sunderland City Council, said: “It’s been an absolutely fantastic proper first day of the event. We’ve had lots of visitors, but there’s plenty of space for more.
“The Welcome Parade has been one of many highlights today. It was really important for the groups of the East End and Hendon to do something to welcome the crews. They did it themselves and they created a really colourful spectacle.”
More than 50 ships have already arrived in the city, with their distinctive masts a reminder of the city’s rich maritime heritage.
Victoria added: “We have a really rich shipbuilding history here and for many people they will have grandparents who worked on ships like these. To walk over the Wearmouth Bridge and see all those masts gives you real goosebumps.
“To add to the ships, we have a huge cultural programme with a real variety of performances each day. “We’ve spoken to some of the crews who’ve arrived and the feedback we’ve had so far is that they’ve been really impressed with how welcoming and friendly Sunderland is.”
The first day of the event finishes with a short firework display in the Wave Basin Battery, just inside the harbour, which can be seen along the Wear.
Some of the cultural activity to look out for outside of the event zones, include yarn bombing depicting boats and sea creatures at Roker Marina.