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Festivals in Sunderland: A Year of Celebrations in 2024


May 16, 2024

Sunderland, a vibrant city on the northeast coast of England, is renowned for its rich industrial heritage, stunning coastline, and lively cultural scene. In 2024, Sunderland’s calendar is packed with an array of festivals that promise to celebrate the city’s heritage, arts, and community spirit. From music and arts to food and history, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Let’s explore the upcoming festivals that are set to make Sunderland come alive this year.

Sunderland International Airshow

Date: July 26-28, 2024
Location: Roker and Seaburn Beaches

The Sunderland International Airshow is one of the city’s most spectacular events, attracting visitors from all over the country. This three-day event features thrilling aerobatic displays, fly-pasts, and military demonstrations over the beautiful coastline of Roker and Seaburn beaches. The airshow also includes ground displays, interactive exhibits, and family-friendly entertainment. It’s a fantastic event for aviation enthusiasts and families alike, offering breathtaking performances by some of the world’s best pilots.

Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light

Date: September 20 – November 3, 2024
Location: Roker Park and Seaburn

Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light is a magical event that transforms Roker Park and the seafront into a dazzling wonderland of lights. The festival features stunning light installations, illuminated displays, and themed attractions that delight visitors of all ages. In addition to the light displays, there are fairground rides, food stalls, and live entertainment. The event culminates in a spectacular fireworks display, providing a perfect end to a wonderful evening. It’s a must-visit for families and anyone looking to experience the festive spirit.

Sunderland Food and Drink Festival

Date: June 21-23, 2024
Location: Keel Square and various city center locations

Sunderland Food and Drink Festival is a culinary extravaganza that celebrates the best of local and international cuisine. Held in Keel Square and various locations across the city center, the festival features a wide array of food stalls, cooking demonstrations by top chefs, and interactive workshops. Visitors can sample delicious dishes, learn new culinary skills, and enjoy live music and entertainment. The festival is a fantastic opportunity to explore new flavors, support local businesses, and enjoy a fun day out with family and friends.

Sunderland River Festival

Date: August 17-18, 2024
Location: St. Peter’s Riverside and Marina

Sunderland River Festival is a celebration of the city’s maritime heritage and its connection to the River Wear. The festival features a variety of water-based activities, including boat races, sailing demonstrations, and river cruises. On land, visitors can enjoy live music, food stalls, craft markets, and family-friendly activities. The festival also includes historical reenactments and educational exhibits that highlight Sunderland’s rich maritime history. It’s a wonderful event for all ages, offering a unique way to experience the city’s waterfront.

Sunderland Shorts Film Festival

Date: May 23-26, 2024
Location: Various venues across Sunderland

The Sunderland Shorts Film Festival is an annual event that showcases a diverse selection of short films from around the world. The festival features screenings in various venues across the city, including cinemas, theaters, and cultural centers. The program includes a wide range of genres, from drama and comedy to documentary and animation. In addition to film screenings, the festival offers workshops, panel discussions, and networking opportunities for filmmakers and film enthusiasts. It’s a fantastic event for anyone passionate about cinema and storytelling.

Sunderland Literature Festival

Date: October 1-31, 2024
Location: Sunderland City Library and Arts Centre and various locations

The Sunderland Literature Festival is a month-long celebration of books, reading, and writing. The festival features a packed program of author readings, book signings, literary workshops, and storytelling sessions. Events are held in various locations across the city, including libraries, bookshops, and cultural venues. The festival aims to promote literacy and a love of reading, offering something for all ages and interests. Visitors can meet their favorite authors, discover new books, and participate in creative writing workshops.

Sunderland International Kite Festival

Date: June 29-30, 2024
Location: Washington Wetland Centre

The Sunderland International Kite Festival is a colorful and visually stunning event that attracts kite enthusiasts from around the world. Held at the Washington Wetland Centre, the festival features impressive kite displays, including giant kites, stunt kites, and themed kite performances. Visitors can also participate in kite-making workshops, watch kite-flying demonstrations, and enjoy family-friendly activities. The festival provides a wonderful day out in a beautiful natural setting, perfect for families and anyone with a love for the outdoors.

Sunderland Oktoberfest

Date: October 4-6, 2024
Location: Mowbray Park

Sunderland Oktoberfest brings the famous Bavarian festival to the heart of the city. Held in Mowbray Park, this event features traditional German food and drink, including sausages, pretzels, and a wide selection of beers. Visitors can enjoy live music, entertainment, and a lively atmosphere reminiscent of the original Munich Oktoberfest. The festival also includes games, competitions, and activities for all ages. It’s a great opportunity to experience German culture and enjoy a fun, festive day out.

Sunderland City Runs

Date: May 12, 2024
Location: Various locations across Sunderland

The Sunderland City Runs is an annual event that brings together runners of all ages and abilities for a series of races through the city. The event includes a marathon, half marathon, 10K, and 5K races, as well as a family fun run. The routes take participants through some of Sunderland’s most iconic landmarks and scenic areas. In addition to the races, there are entertainment zones, food stalls, and activities for spectators. The Sunderland City Runs is a fantastic way to promote fitness, community spirit, and city pride.

Sunderland Retro Festival

Date: September 7-8, 2024
Location: Rainton Arena

The Sunderland Retro Festival is a nostalgic celebration of music, fashion, and culture from the 1960s to the 1990s. Held at Rainton Arena, the festival features live performances by tribute bands, vintage market stalls, retro gaming zones, and classic car displays. Visitors can enjoy a trip down memory lane, reliving the sounds and styles of their favorite decades. The festival also includes dance floors, themed bars, and family-friendly activities, making it a fun and vibrant event for all ages.

Sunderland International Friendship Festival

Date: July 6, 2024
Location: Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

The Sunderland International Friendship Festival is an event that celebrates the city’s diverse communities and global connections. Held at the Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, the festival features cultural performances, international food stalls, craft workshops, and educational exhibits. Visitors can learn about different cultures, sample traditional dishes, and enjoy performances by local and international artists. The festival aims to promote understanding and friendship between different communities, creating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere.

Sunderland Blues and Roots Festival

Date: November 9-10, 2024
Location: The Independent

The Sunderland Blues and Roots Festival is a celebration of blues, folk, and roots music, featuring performances by local and international artists. Held at The Independent, a popular live music venue, the festival offers an intimate and immersive experience for music lovers. The program includes acoustic sets, electric blues performances, and roots music from around the world. The festival also features workshops and jam sessions, providing opportunities for musicians to collaborate and learn from each other.

Sunderland Festival of Remembrance

Date: November 10, 2024
Location: Sunderland Minster

The Sunderland Festival of Remembrance is a solemn and moving event that honors the memory of those who have served in the armed forces. Held at Sunderland Minster, the festival features a poignant service, musical performances, and readings. The event brings together the community to pay tribute to veterans and reflect on the sacrifices made for peace and freedom. It’s an important and meaningful event that highlights the city’s strong sense of history and respect for those who have served.

Sunderland Christmas Market

Date: November 22 – December 22, 2024
Location: Keel Square

The Sunderland Christmas Market is a festive event that brings the magic of the holiday season to the city center. Held in Keel Square, the market features a variety of stalls selling Christmas gifts, decorations, and delicious seasonal treats. Visitors can enjoy live music, entertainment, and a cozy festive atmosphere. The market also includes a Santa’s Grotto, ice skating rink, and fairground rides, making it a perfect destination for families. It’s a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit and enjoy the festive season with loved ones.


Sunderland’s festival calendar for 2024 is packed with a diverse array of events that celebrate the city’s rich cultural heritage, artistic talent, and community spirit. Whether you’re an aviation enthusiast, a foodie, a music lover, or simply looking for family-friendly fun, there’s a festival in Sunderland that’s sure to delight. Mark your calendars and prepare to immerse yourself in the festive spirit of this dynamic and welcoming city.

By admin