Christmas parties, ice skating spectacles and festive theatre, it really is the most wonderful time of year. Check out our top ways to celebrate the festive season in Wearside…

Winter Wonderland 

Wrap up in your winter woollies and head to Rainton Arena to immerse yourself in all things festive for six whole weeks. From November to January, this Houghton Le Spring winter extravaganza will be offering a wide variety of attractions, activities, entertainment, food, drinks and so much more – it’s everything you could wish for when it comes to soaking up the magic of Christmas. Sip on a hot choc or mulled wine as you mooch about and explore the fair ground which is brightly lit by an abundance of twinkling lights and thrilling rides. Whether you’re a Bambi look alike or could bag first place on Dancing on Ice, a trip to the outdoor ice rink guarantees fun and laughter in equal measures. Book your tickets and take little ones to meet Santa Claus in his magical grotto or if mayhem and madness is more your thing, tickets to the Grinchmas Festive Trail are a must! Join a host of Characters on a magical adventure to help the Grinch find his Christmas spirit. You will experience all kinds of chaos and Christmas crafts as you make your way through this one hour fun-filled experience. Indulge in copious amounts of festive treats from a wide range of food stalls and make sure you stop by the Tipi Bar. This is what Christmas dreams are made of!

Christmas Light Switch On 

Now it’s Christmas! Rally the troops and venture into the City Centre on 17 November from 5pm for the ultimate Christmas experience. Sunderland AFC legend Kevin Philips and the cast of the Empire Theatre’s panto, Aladdin, will be joining the Mayor of Sunderland for the big event. With a magical countdown and the flick of a switch, Christmas will officially land in Sunderland. The event, which will be hosted by Metro Radio Breakfast hosts Steve and Karen will be taking place at Keel Square. Head down with your nearest and dearest for an evening filled with a whole load of festive fun, family-friendly entertainment and music aplenty.

Christmas Lights


Disco with the Elves

Dress up in your finest festive attire and head to George Washington Hotel for a disco like no other. For two very special dates, December 3 and 23, little ones and their families are invited to a fun-filled disco with Santa’s elves. As Father Christmas picks up the pace to get ready for the big day, his North Pole pals are in town to make sure children are as excited as can be. Food will be served at 12.30pm, followed by a two hour Crimbo disco before a visit from the big man himself. With photo opportunities aplenty, a ton of festive fun and delicious food… What’s not to love? All of that, plus all children will receive a gift from Santa before they leave. Oh, how we love Christmas!

Sunderland Ice Rink 

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a trip to Sunderland Ice Rink! That’s right, it’s back and it’s better than ever. Set in the iconic Keel Square, this winter spectacle is providing families across Wearside with a fun-filled activity steeped in tradition and festive cheer aplenty. Now when we say it’s better than ever, we mean it! This year you can wave goodbye to skating in the rain and wild winds the North East weather brings and say hello to a brand-new all weather ice rink. With a huge marquee covering the rink, no matter what the weather throws at us this winter, your skating plans remain intact. This year also welcomes the opportunity for little ones to skate with magical characters. Every Saturday at 10am leading up until Christmas, there will be a session just for the kids where they will be joined by magical characters on the ice. And because ice skating and festive fun should be inclusive for everyone, this year there will be a session on Sunday 5 and Sunday 19 December for children with special needs. These two sessions which will take place at 10am are for  children who will benefit from a calm and quiet environment while on the ice. No music, no flashing lights and skating aids available for hire… your children can enjoy the rink together in a more relaxed atmosphere. Let the magic of Christmas commence.

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White Christmas 

Gather the whole gang and make it a magical family Christmas this year with the brand-new spectacular production of Irving Berlin’s classic musical, White Christmas. A tale of love and friendship, White Christmas features the dazzling songs Blue Skies, Sisters, Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep, The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing, I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm and the most famous festive song of all, White Christmas. Sing along, feel the goosebumps and embrace the magic. A timeless romantic comedy to warm the hearts of all ages.



It’s panto season! This year, the tale of Aladdin will be flying in on a magical flying carpet for a panto spectacular at Sunderland Empire. Filled with mystical adventure, stunning sets and costumes, a lamp load of comedy and sensational song and dance numbers, this one’s not to be missed! We had the pleasure of chatting with the wonderful Miss Rory who will take to the stage in this year’s pantomime with Gary Lucy as the villainous Abanazar and hilarious local comic Tom Whalley as Wishee Washee. Little ones and adults alike will be in hysterics with all of the gags and giggles that come hand in hand with a Sunderland Empire panto!




Christmas Market 

It’s time to shop all things independent! Wander over to Kayll Road Library Community Hub’s Christmas Market on November 19. From 10am – 2.30pm, festive goers, families, shoppers and gift buyers are invited to mooch through the stalls of unique gift ideas from a range of small, local businesses. From the likes of crystals, jewellery and wax melts, to sweet treats, sea glass, pet gifts and more, you’re guaranteed to make a dent in your Christmas shopping!

The Three Bears at Christmas 

A Christmas adventure awaits families at Arts Centre Washington this December. This festive tale – which will have little ones mesmerised – follows the story of Mammy, Dadd and Baby Bear who live in the deep snowy forest. As they prepare for winter, each day the three bears head off into the woods to collect interesting things they can re-use in their home. As Christmas arrives, their cosy home is turned upside down by a colourful whirlwind that threatens to knock over their Christmas tree, eat their Christmas puddings and fall asleep in their beds. Yes, that’s right, it could only be Goldilocks! Join the magical action from 6 – 11 December and enjoy original live music, puppetry and a twist on a tale you thought you knew.


Children’s Christmas Party

Dress up in your sparkliest outfit, the Grand Hotel, located on the seafront, is inviting families to enjoy the ultimate Children’s Christmas party. Think face painting, disco, party games and a bouncy castle, this magical event is set to be filled with oodles of fun. Dancing and games aside, your ticket also includes tasty pizzas and hot dogs for children to tuck into. Tuesday 20 December is the date for your diaries!


Roker Hotel’s Classic Christmas Screenings

Nothing gets you in the Christmas spirit quite like a proper Christmas film and it’s true what they say, classics are always the best! Throughout December, Roker Hotel is hosting an array of festive screenings with a line up of ultimate classics including It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas and A Christmas Carol. With morning and afternoon screenings available for each festive flick, head along and enjoy some true seasonal cinema favourites accompanied by the hotel’s famous Let There Be Crumbs’ Afternoon Tea. Choose from a selection of freshly made sandwiches including turkey, stuffing and cranberry, prawns in marie-rose sauce and cheese and pickle, paired with a selection of cakes and desserts including mini mince pies, Christmas pudding, stollen, chocolate mousse, candy canes and gingerbread man. Delish!

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