FEARSOME dinosaurs, magical characters, outdoor movies and sporting events are just some of the activities which are putting the sun into Sunderland this summer – along with the perfect Instagram moment.

Mindful of the fact that many people will be enjoying a staycation this year, the city centre is playing host to a whole range of events that are guaranteed to keep families happy – and occupied – right through to September.

And visitors can enjoy the perfect picture opportunity, thanks to high letters spelling #SUN which have been installed in Keel Square this week (Aug 5).

Sunderland BID, the Bridges and Sunderland City Council are working together- supported by the European Regional Development Fund – and the result is a packed programme with something for everyone.

Both the Bridges and the BID have unveiled augmented reality trails where – by using special apps – visitors can bring to life a number of exciting characters.

The BID’s trail, the Enchanted Garden, is available by downloading the free Sunderland Experience app, while the Bridges’ dinosaur trail app can be downloaded via the centre’s website at http://www.thebridges-shopping.com/bridges-dino-trail

To add to the excitement, every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from now until  5 September the city centre will be visited by walkabout characters and pop up performers.

At the same time, the dinosaur and enchanted garden themes will continue with special craft workshops for youngsters in the Bridges in the former Menkind store on a number of dates including throughout August and on and 3 and 5 September.

Minster Park will also be the focus of the action of 21 and 22 August and 4 and 5 September, where an outdoor cinema will be staged, with details of the movies to be announced in the near future.

Adding to the mix there are some special sporting events, bird of prey shows, a pop up park and arts and crafts workshops at the Museum and Winter Gardens and at Sunderland Library and it means there’s a packed summer across the city.

Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland BID, believes there’s something for everyone.

“We can fully sympathise with families who are wondering how they are going to keep youngsters occupied during the summer holidays,” she said.

“Which is why we’ve created a programme which we really believe will be fantastic for everyone and of course also give them the chance to be out and about across the city centre.

“The Enchanted Garden Trail also gives them access to some brilliant deals and offers from businesses across the city to make it even more enjoyable.”

Karen Eve, Centre Director at the Bridges, echoed Sharon’s words.

“The dinosaur trail is already proving a huge hit and all of the extra activities such as the workshops and the characters means lots of free fun throughout the summer months,” she said.

“We know everyone is ready for a break, especially if they’re not getting away on a holiday – hopefully all of these fantastic activities will make up for it.”

Councillor Linda Williams, Cabinet Member for Vibrant City at Sunderland City Council said: “With more of us staying closer to home this summer, I am delighted that the council is working alongside Sunderland BID and The Bridges on a programme of fun-filled activities planned for the city centre and throughout Sunderland. 

“With this first set of activities in the city centre – from dinosaurs and grass animals, to sports and arts and crafts workshops – there is something to see or do for everyone, and the perfect opportunity for a selfie or two. I hope families will enjoy making the most of what Sunderland has to offer this summer.”