Sunderland has been transformed into a winter wonderland this year, complete with ice rinks, Christmas Markets, pantomimes, festive food, drinks and even an Alpine Village bar with live music! 

Here are all the best events, experiences and places to visit in Sunderland this Christmas… 


The BEST Things To Do in Sunderland This Christmas


Sunderland Ice Rink

Until 3 January 2022


Things to do in Sunderland this Christmas - Sunderland Ice Rink


Time to get your skates on and have the best Christmas ever! 

Sunderland BID and Sunderland City Council have taken on the roles of Santa’s little helpers and put together a programme guaranteed to make everyone feel full of festive cheer.

And that includes a funfair, food and drink stalls at the former Crowtree site, the return of Santa’s grotto to the Bridges and the welcoming sight of the ever-popular Sunderland Ice Rink. 

Right through to 3 January, Sunderland Ice Rink is providing families across the region with a great opportunity for family and friends or work colleagues to have a day – or night – out with a difference!

To make the experience even more exciting, there will be a number of skating sessions with themed characters and there are unique sessions to ensure youngsters with special educational needs can enjoy the festivities.

Skating can be thirsty work, which is why on certain dates there will be a number of pop-up food and drinks stalls also taking up residence by the rink! 

Dessert masters, Sweet Petite, will be among those selling delicious items on 4, 11 and 18 December, so make sure you’re in the city to get your mitts on their incredible dishes! 



Winter Funderland

Until 2 January 2022


Things to do in Sunderland this Christmas - Winter Funerland


There’s plenty of things to this Christmas in Sunderland, as an all-singing, all-dancing winter wonderland has popped up at the former Crowtree Site!

This year’s market additions include an Alpine Village bar, perfect for a mulled wine, hot chocolate and mid-shop break. 

You’ll also find funfair and fairground rides, Santa’s Grotto, as well as seasonal stalls jam-packed with unique gifts. 

Foodies are in for a treat too… tuck into fresh street food from local traders, sample huge German bratwursts, and some of the sweetest treats you’ll find this Christmas. 

With live music taking place on the weekend, huge TV screens to catch all the sporting action post-shopping trip and seasonal vibes all winter long, Winter Funderland is a standout experience to visit in Sunderland this Christmas. 



Christmas Grotto at the Bridges

From 18 November


Things to do in Sunderland this Christmas - Bridges Christmas Grotto


Father Christmas is returning to the Bridges this winter, as their beloved Christmas grotto returns to the city centre to give families plenty of things to do in Sunderland this Christmas. 

The grotto will open its doors at 11am on Thursday 18 November and remain open until Christmas Eve, giving families who missed out last year the opportunity to make up for lost time.

From 18 Nov to 12 Dec the grotto will be available from 11am to 4pm all weekdays bar Thursdays, the Bridges will remain open until 6pm to coincide with late night shopping, while on Saturdays opening hours are 10-4pm.

Entrance to the grotto is £2 with the proceeds distributed to local charities and good causes, with all children receiving a gift.



A Cultured Christmas at The Fire Station 

From 10 December


Things to do in Sunderland this Christmas - A Cultured Christmas at the Fire Station


Sunderland’s £18m game-changing cultural hub is giving us all plenty of things to do in Sunderland this Christmas with a sublime new programme of arts, music and culture. 

North-east musical icon Kathryn Tickell and home-grown Sunderland hero Marty Longstaff when they and their bands will be the first acts to perform on stage at The Fire Station Auditorium at the venue’s opening gig on Friday, December 10.

After the December 10 double bill, the region’s chamber orchestra Royal Northern Sinfonia, featuring their new leader Maria Wloszczowska, will perform a candle-lit Christmas concert on Sunday, December 12, followed by British queen of soul and gospel Mica Paris on Wednesday, December 15.

The celebrated singer, actress and presenter are set to perform an unmissable night of powerful soul and gospel classics, along with hit singles from her illustrious 30-year career, including the chart-topper My One Temptation, I Should’ve Known Better and Breathe Life into Me.

Friday, December 17 will see the main event to officially open The Fire Station, when Mercury Music Prize nominees Field Music will present The Firestarters Revue, with a sensational line-up of guests including rising stars Martha Hill, Reali-T, Faye Fantarrow alongside Sunderland icons Barry Hyde and Ross Millard (The Futureheads) and Frankie Francis.



Sunderland’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks extravaganza

31 December


New Year's Eve fireworks over the Wearmouth Bridge


Sunderland’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks are back! A dazzling display of fireworks will light up the Sunderland skyline as the city prepares to welcome in 2022, in a new family-friendly event this New Year’s Eve!

Riverside Sunderland will play host to a spectacular 15-minute aerial display, with live on-stage entertainment, on-street activity and a food and drink offer around Riverside Sunderland and Keel Square as part of a family-focused celebration to see in the new year.

With a family-friendly 6pm start, the event will see Metro Radio broadcast live from the city centre, providing a boost to businesses by attracting more people into the heart of the city for the final evening of 2021.


Hadrian’s Tipi at Stack Seaburn

Throughout Christmas


Christmas in Sunderland - Hadrian's Tipi at Stack Seaburn


Hadrian’s Tipi at Stack Seaburn is the perfect place to cosy up by the open fire pit and sip on an aromatic glass of mulled wine whilst listening to unreal live music. 

The perfect place to cosy up beside the open fire pit and sip on an aromatic glass of mulled wine whilst listening to live music, This year, Hadrian’s Tipi at Stack Seaburn will provide more covered space making it the ideal place to escape manic shopping centre queues and seek refuge from the ferocious winter weather.

Head here for roaring log fires, snug seating areas, live entertainment and a vibrant party atmosphere as your favourite Stack traders serve up the goods all winter long. 



The Reindeer Dash returns to the Bridges

5 December


Things to do in Sunderland this Christmas - Bridges reindeer dash


Spread festive cheer for Sunderland charities this Christmas as The Reindeer Dash zooms into the Bridges shopping centre this December! 

Brought to you by Sunderland BID, Red Sky Ball and the Bridges, this magical fun-run encourages little ones to don antlers, polish those red noses and whistle around the mall! 

Little prancers will also be invited to Santa’s enchanting Grotto for free, so make sure you have those all-important wish lists ready as it’s your exclusive opportunity to let the big man know what you’re expecting come December 25th! 

For all the information you need, head over to the Bridges website! 


Festive fun at National Glass Centre

Throughout Christmas



There’s something for everyone at National Glass Centre this Christmas! 

From Christmas activities for families, including family fusing, creating a glass snowman, angel or snowy owl, festive glass painting and more, to hands-on experiences and workshops for adults where you can make everything from baubles to flameworked or ceramic Christmas decorations.

On the last weekend of November (27/28), you can also visit their Christmas craft fair and celebrate the beautiful handmade crafts that the North East has to offer. It’s the perfect opportunity to buy a unique handmade Christmas gift or to treat yourself to something special!

During your visit, you can also view their exhibitions, including NGC Glass Prize that is open in the main gallery and showcases spectacular glass pieces by artists working across Europe, or you can attend their free glassmaking demonstrations, enjoy a bit of retail therapy in the shop, or treat yourself to lunch in the riverside café, The Glass Yard.



Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs Panto at Sunderland Empire

From 10 December


Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at Sunderland Empire


There’s nothing quite like panto season here in Sunderland, our friends at Sunderland Empire have a cracker taking to the stage this Christmas!

Iconic actress and entertainer, Su Pollard takes to the stage to thrill panto audiences as the Wicked Queen in Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs from Friday 10 December 2021 – Sunday 2 January 2022.

A true star of pantomimes, Su has appeared in Pinocchio, Aladdin, Jack and the Beanstalk, Dick Whittington, Babes In The Wood, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan and Cinderella. 

Su will join the previously announced North East Queen of Comedy, Miss Rory (Boulevard, aka Dan Cunningham) who will star as the hilarious Nurse Rorina, and it is time to say ‘Alreet’ once again to South Shields comic Tom Whalley, as the sidesplitting Muddles the Jester.

Featuring a beautiful princess, a jealous Wicked Queen, seven bumbling dwarfs, a naughty nurse, a hilarious jester, and not forgetting a poisoned apple and a Magic Mirror, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs is shaping up to be one of the best. 

Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs is at the Sunderland Empire from Friday 10 December 2021 – Sunday 2 January 2022. 



Hansel and Gretel at Arts Centre Washington 

9 – 11 December


Hansel and Gretel at Washington Arts Centre


Take a pinch of magic, a dollop of great music, a dash of thrill and a large portion of laughter, stir it all up with Lyngo’s much-loved theatrical skill and you get this wonderful show about a brother and sister with the wit to win through all adversity – even being abandoned in the forest by their own parents! 

You won’t be able to resist this classic story of adventure and fun, as sweet as a gingerbread house! With shifting scenery and ingenious props, Lyngo serves up their own special recipe of multi-roled performances, captivating songs and beautiful imagery.



What things to do in Sunderland this Christmas will you be enjoying? Get in touch online. Twitter: @SunderlandVibe, Instagram: @SunderlandVibe, Facebook: @SunderlandVibe.

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