Attendees at Sunderland’s Festival of Light can anticipate mesmerizing fire performances, a silent disco suitable for the whole family, and captivating street theatre as the month-long event kicks off in Mowbray Park next week.
A wrap-around programme featuring a mix of pop-up events and entertainment will make this year’s Festival of Light extra special, with different events to choose from on different days.
New lighting features have also been introduced for 2023, including a stunning light projection onto the rear of Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens by a company whose previous work includes projections onto York Minster, Edinburgh Castle and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Festival goers can also look forward to live music in the bandstand, ‘Selfie Lane’ with its series of Instagrammable selfie opportunities and a sparkling light tunnel.
A fairy trail will lead visitors through an atmospheric woodland glade to an illuminated fairy door transformed into a mesmerising and magical symphony of light and sound, to create a colour-changing immersive experience.
Councillor John Price, Cabinet Member for Vibrant City, at Sunderland City Council, said: “We’ve got an exciting mix of pop-up events and entertainment against a backdrop of some sparking new lighting installations this year. I think it’s going to be a brilliant event and I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t already booked their tickets to do so before they sell out.”
Here’s everything you need to know before you go:
When and where is the Festival of Light
The Festival of Light begins on Wednesday 11 October and will then take place from 4pm – 9pm every Thursday to Sunday until Saturday 11 November and every day during half term week, 23 – 27 October. Last admission will be at 7.45pm, and the event will close at 9pm each night. This year’s event is being held in Mowbray Park, Burdon Road, SR1 1PP in Sunderland city centre.
What can I expect?
A sparkling mix of new lighting installations including a stunning light projection onto the rear of Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, a ‘selfie lane’, a twinkling tunnel over the bridge connecting the two sections of the park and an immersive fairy trail and woodland glade, along with some classic favourites.
Wrap Around events and entertainment programme
There will be activities each evening including family-friendly characters and performances. To find out what is on when visit Festival of Light 2023 – MySunderland for details of the full wrap-around programme which changes through the event period.
A ‘quiet hour’ is available to book on selected dates for visitors looking for a quieter or calmer experience. During this time, music in the park will be turned down and performances and street theatre will be limited. Quiet hours are on from 4pm to 5pm on:
- Thursday 12 October
- Thursday 19 October
- Monday 23 to Sunday 29 October
- Thursday 2 November to Sunday 5 November
- Thursday 9 November to Saturday 11 November
Do I need to buy a ticket in advance?
All visitors must have a ticket to enter the Festival of Light. Tickets cost £3 per person and must be purchased online in advance. They cannot be bought at the gate. Group discounts apply, and children under 2 are free.
Do I have to attend at the time shown on my tickets?
Yes. When buying your ticket online, you will be asked to select an entry time. All visitors must attend at the time shown on their ticket.
Can I change the date and/or time or cancel my ticket once purchased?
No. Festival of Light tickets are strictly non-transferable and non-refundable. Changes cannot be made to your booking once it is confirmed.
Can I leave the Festival of Light and return the same evening with my ticket?
No. Your ticket is only valid for the entry time stated on the ticket. If you leave you will be unable to return at a later time that evening. Once you have entered the Festival of Light there is no limit on how long you can stay at the event.
Is the Festival of Light accessible to pushchairs and wheelchairs?
Yes. The Festival of Light is fully accessible to pushchair and wheelchair users.
Will there be food and drinks available on site?
Yes. There will be a selection of food and drinks available to buy in Mowbray Park. Visitors are also welcome to bring their own food and drinks however alcohol is strictly prohibited.
Will there be toilets and baby-changing facilities available at the event?
Yes. Toilets and baby-changing facilities will be available.
Will Mowbray Park be free to access during the day?
Yes. Access to the park will remain as usual until approximately 3pm every event day at which point the park will be closed for preparation of event visitors entering at 4pm.
Which any roads be closed during the event?
Due to Mowbray Park’s city centre location, no roads will be closed during the event.
Where can visitors to the event park?
Parking is free in all On Street parking bays and car parks with the exception of Riverside Monday – Friday after 3pm.
– Surface car parks and On Street bays are chargeable on a Saturday 8.00am – 6.00pm.
– Riverside, St Marys and Sunniside car parks are chargeable on a Saturday.
– Surface car parks and On Street bays are free on a Sunday.
– St Marys, Sunniside and Riverside car parks are chargeable all day on a Sunday at a flat rate. £2.00 in St Marys and Sunniside and £3.00 in Riverside.
For more information:
– Parking – Sunderland City Council
Can I use public transport to get to the event?
Visitors can get to the site using both bus and Metro services. Please visit Bus timetables | nexus.org.uk for the latest information.