Sunderland’s Christmas will begin with the flick of a switch on Thursday 22 November as a programme of local choirs, live music and panto stars help to mark the official start of the city’s festive season.


The event, which this year is supporting the NSPCC Christmas campaign, will be held on Keel Square and will see the switch-on preceded by a full stage programme.


Beginning at 5.30pm, the evening’s entertainment will feature local school choirs, the vintage tones of Kate Hilton and a festive musical tribute from Channy Thompson.


The evening will culminate in a breathtaking firework display, transforming the night sky in to an explosion of colour and sparkle.


Richard McCourt of ‘Dick and Dom’ fame and West End Star, Josh Andrews, will join the Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Lynda Scanlan, in pressing that all important button.


The Mayor of Sunderland, Cllr Scanlan said: “Our annual city centre lights switch-on has long been recognised as a successful, feel-good event that allows the city to come together and officially start the countdown to Christmas.”


Ben Phillips, Theatre Director, Sunderland Empire added: “Nothing quite symbolises the start of the festive season like the annual Sunderland Christmas lights switch-on.


“As with our pantomime, this continues to be a huge event in the city’s calendar and we are delighted to bring a dose of festive cheer with on stage appearances from two of our pantomime stars, Dick & Dom’s, Richard McCourt (Smee) and West End Star, Josh Andrews (Peter Pan).


“The ‘Croc is ticking’ and the countdown to pantomime season is now officially on! We can’t wait for all the cast to fly into the city next month to open the magical tale of Peter Pan, families will be hooked with all the magical ingredients that make a Sunderland Empire pantomime so special.”


The newly launched Hadrian’s Tipi will be open throughout the event duration to welcome customers in from the cold with a range of warming festive beverages.


Kevin Walker, Operations Director for Hadrian’s Tipi said “We are delighted to offer the unique experience of the Tipi as part of the Christmas lights switch-on, so arrive early as the Tipi will be burning its log fires and providing live music plus an array of street food vendors on the night.


“We also have a heated outside terrace with two additional fire-pits that we hope the people of Sunderland will enjoy as the city gets ready to countdown to Christmas”

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