From riding Santa trains to feeding real reindeer: 10 things to do this weekend

From the return of Santa trains to the best of Wham, there’s plenty going on around the region this weekend.

Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 4:49 pm
Reindeer Cookie, Nutmeg and Daftney at the Winter Wonderland at Rainton Arena, Sunderland.

We’ve rounded up 10 of the top things to do.

The City of Sunderland Model Engineering Society will be running a weekend of Santa Special trains over the weekend of December 14 and 15 between 1pm and 4pm at their Roker Park railway track. Weather permitting, visitors will be able to whizz around the mini track on a train driven by Santa himself. The model engineering society don't charge for rides, but donations are always welcome.
Winter Wonderland is spreading festive magic at Rainton Arena, Houghton. Sunderland, every day until December 23. As well as Santa's Grotto, there's real reindeer, an ice rink, a craft marquee, tipi bar, fairground rides and a host of stalls selling food and drink. There's also a shopping area if you need to pick up some gifts. Entry is free, but the rink and the grotto will need to be paid for.

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Scarlett Moffatt heads up the cast as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella which opens at Sunderland Empire this week. The panto will be running from December 13 to January 5 and also stars comedian Miss Rory as Rorina Hardup, Duncan Burt as her ugly sister Ruby, Nick Jnr’s Gemma Naylor (Go! Go! Go!) as Cinderella, ITV’s Superstars finalist Jon Moses as the Prince and Tom Whalley as Buttons for a photo call. Usually theatres spend months in negotiations with household names like Scarlett to appear in their pantos, but the I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here winner is such a regular to the High Street West theatre that she approached them for her debut panto performance.
As part of the Customs House's 25th Anniversary celebrations the Little Panto with the Big Heart presents Snow White. Come see their take on the classic fairytale, performed for the first time since its first festive season in 1994. The Evil Queen, having banished her fair sister in a mirror, is now forced to look after her ward Snow White. Driven evil by her jealousy, she wishes to dispose of the fairest in the land. Will Dame Bella and Arbuthnot save the day or will heroes Sniffy and Whiffy smell something is rotten in the state of Cooksonville and help the Prince of the North find his true love.
The Best of Wham is at Billingham Forum on December 13 and 14. The new show features the best of George, Andrew, Pepsi and Shirlie with vocals, choreography, costumes and a live band. In four short years Wham! sold more than 28 million records, topping the charts with three albums, four number one singles and eleven top ten hits. They featured in the Live Aid concert of 1985 and were the first western pop group to ever tour in China. The Best of Wham! Show includes all the hits, a few B side favourites and a couple of early George Michael bonus songs.
The Festival of Light is running at Mowbray Park, Sunderland, every Thursday to Sunday until December 22. Part of the Christmas in Sunderland programme, the Festival of Light is back with a range of sparkling new lighting installations, live music, illuminated street theatre characters and added extras such as visits from Santa’s reindeer and craft workshops. Entry is from 4pm, with last entry at 8pm and the event closes at 9pm. Tickets are £3 and need to be booked in advance from the See It Do It Sunderland website. There’s something different happening every weekend at the Festival of Light. To help you plan your visit, please download our What’s On Guide below. Christmas Shows Brand new for 2019, a range of Christmas Shows delivered by Make My Day Events are available to book. Held within the Festival of Light’s magical tipi, ‘Snow Queen and Superhero save Christmas’, ‘Elf Check List Training’ and ‘Storytime with Santa’ are sure to get families in the mood for the festive season. Tickets are £3 per child with 1 accompanying adult free.
Comedian Jim Jefferies is at Utilita Arena, Newcastle, on December 13. After receiving rave reviews for his 2018 international stand up tour The Unusual Punishment Tour and being named one of the top 5 touring comedians in the world, Jim Jefferies is back on the road with an entirely new routine for his The Night Talker Tour. Jim Jefferies is well-known for his provocative, belief-challenging, and thought-provoking comedy. Jim’s eponymous Comedy Central series The Jim Jefferies Show, for which he recently earned a WGA nomination, debuted its third season in March this year.
Santa's Naughty Little Elf is at Customs House, South Shields, until Christmas Eve. Santa’s Naughty Elf star Wayne Miller has announced that this year’s show, The Naughty Elves and the Shoemaker, will be his last outing as Elfluent. The actor celebrated 10 years of bringing Santa’s Naughty Elf to life last year and he will be a huge miss to a generation of children who have grown up with him. The ‘little panto for little ones’ was devised by The Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer in 2009 to complement the annual panto, with the aim of making the festive tradition more accessible to children under seven and their families.
Beauty and the Beast is running at Theatre Royal, Newcastle, until January 19. For the first time ever pantomime Beauty and the Beast is at Newcastle Theatre Royal in an enchanting production for all the family, starring legendary Theatre Royal panto stars Danny Adams, Clive Webb and Chris Hayward. Join them on a magical adventure to help the beautiful Belle on her quest to unleash the Beauty within the Beast. As with all Theatre Royal pantomimes, you can expect special effects and a few surprises along the way.
Enjoy a magic carpet ride into the wonderful world of panto with Aladdin at Gala Theatre, Durham, running until January 5. The show will see wishes granted, romance blossom and riches lost and won as the talented cast bring the much-loved story of Aladdin and his lamp to life. Featuring a magical flying carpet, audiences will be transported to exotic locations such as China, Egypt and even Sacriston, following the streetwise hero as he attempts to make his town rich by marrying a princess.