2019 will build on ‘a tremendous year of events for Sunderland’ according to the city’s Labour Group cabinet member. 

Councillor John Kelly, who has responsibility for culture and events, has promised to continue to with its work to establish Sunderland as ‘an events city’, a status he will believes was realised last summer.

“2018 was an absolutely tremendous year for Sunderland. Data from the last few years has told us that more and more visitors are coming to Sunderland, that they’re spending more, and that jobs are being created as a consequence. That’s the power of tourism. 

“Sunderland has some incredible assets. It’s riverside, which is within walking distance of our stunning beaches. It’s parkland and green open fields. Its connectivity, right at the heart of the region. How many places – especially cities – can boast the same?

“We are focused on offering events that make sure people who live in the city and those who visit get maximum enjoyment from what city has to offer.”

The ‘event city’ status that Labour leaders in Sunderland are seeking will see a balanced portfolio of core events delivered by the city council and its partners this year, complemented by numerous events led by others. 

The programme will, said Cllr Kelly, “reinforce the vision and priorities of the city and see more visitors and more residents participating in cultural activities and events, as well as promoting the city and helping establish Sunderland as a tourist destination and generating significant economic benefits for the city.”

Among the new events that will be firmed up following discussions with members of the council include new events that will shine a spotlight on The Northern Spire bridge; more food and drink markets with details to be revealed; new riverside showcases, following the huge success of the Tall Ships Races last year and more music festivals, to appeal to all tastes. This will be added to the city’s signature programme, which includes Penshaw Bowl, the Airshow, the Houghton Feast, the Illuminations and Festival of Light, as well as the series of Active Sunderland BIG events and festivals, with some of these revamped for 2019.

“We’re looking to expand the events we do have, to maximise their impact, and one of the focuses will be on how we use activities to connect the city.  The river, though beautiful, does divide the city and we want events to be a way of connecting communities across Sunderland – bringing Sunderland together to enjoy a programme of things to do that help them live happy, healthy lives,” added Cllr Kelly.

More information on dates and locations will be shared on the city’s events programme over the coming weeks.