The Sunderland Echo has been along to a special preview evening of the Festival of Light to look at many of the displays crowds will flock to see over the coming weeks.
Attractions include a new Winter Wonderland feature and a mystical Underwater Kingdom Projection for visitors to discover for the very first time.
Visitor favourites such as Disney characters including the Frozen and Alice in Wonderland displays are also present in Roker Park, along with Witches and Wizards, Doctor Who and Pirates.
The spectacular, illuminated ‘Fabulous Fountains’ return to light up the park’s lake, where visitors will also find the iconic ‘Sunderland Tap’.
New attractions also include an 18metre-high ‘Sunderland Sphere’ illuminated dome which gives visitors the chance to have messages to loved ones displayed on the huge spherical screens.
Customers can book a message to be displayed on the globe by visiting www.seeitdoitsunderland.co.uk/illuminations
The event runs from Thursday night through to November 18.
The Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Lynda Scanlan, joined Sunderland City Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, Coun John Kelly, to welcome children from Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools to the preview evening.
Coun Scanlan said: “It was wonderful to see the children and their families’ reactions when they were walking around enjoying all the features.
“These special preview evenings are a great occasion, and I was honoured and delighted as Mayor to be involved on behalf of everyone in our city.
“The Festival of Light has something for everyone, and I hope everyone will book to come along to see the amazing things here in park while they are visiting the Sunderland Illuminations which stretch right along our award winning seafront.”
Coun Kelly added: “Since we revived the Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light in Roker Park, the event has grown and developed to become one of Sunderland and the region’s biggest and most popular attractions.
“We try to offer our visitors something new and exciting every year which the Sunderland Sphere will certainly provide, alongside the old family favourites which everyone looks forward to seeing such as the Disney characters and giant illuminated tap which appears to hover in mid-air.
“Hopefully people have got used to the online bookings system which allows you to buy your tickets for the exact date and time you want to visit the Festival of Light, which helps reduce queues in the park and gives people more time and space to walk around and enjoy the displays.”
“While you need to book your tickets to get into the park, there’s lots to enjoy along the seafront and on Cliffe Park including the giant big wheel, fairground, food stalls with music and lights to enjoy as you walk along enjoying the fresh air and excitement.’
To book tickets online, visit: www.seeitdoitsunderland.co.uk/illuminations