Spice Girls

Summer events kick off in Sunderland

SUNDERLAND is set for a spicy summer, as the return of the city’s concerts kicks off a packed programme of events.

With the Stadium of Light preparing to welcome up to 50,000 Spice Girls fans, when the city plays host to one of the most iconic groups of all time, the event represents the starting gun on a string of events that will keep people of all ages entertained right through til autumn.

With £4m set to pour into the Sunderland economy on June 6, as traders across the city benefit from some 25,000 plus fans from outside the city – as well as an anticipated 10,000 plus people from Sunderland – coming to see the first Stadium gig in three years, businesses can prepare for yet more footfall coming to Sunderland to enjoy a host of events over the coming months.

A bolstered events programme released by Sunderland City Council features everything from Sunderland Food & Drink Fest, a new event for the city centre that will take place from June 21 to 23, bringing a host of international flavours to Sunderland; Sunderland Airshow, which sees visitors numbers to the city soar every July – this time taking place from July 26 to 28; and with a beachside theme, a Sand Sculpture Event, that will attract crowds to Seaburn Beach on August 18.

There is also a Sunderland River Festival planned for the weekend of August 31 to September 1, at St Peter’s Riverside and Low Street, which will build on the success of the Tall Ships in 2018; and sounds will fill the streets during the last weekend of September, with a new Sunderland Music Festival planned for the city centre.

Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, which supported the Spice Girls concert at the Stadium, said: “Sunderland is building its reputation as an events city, a place capable of staging stunning, large scale events that are of real quality and that help attract a different audience to the city.

“As we build this reputation, we are seeing the number of people coming to the city increase. 8.76 million people visited Sunderland in 2017. This was up by 6 per cent on 2016. And with them, they brought £429million of additional income, up by 5 per cent on 2016. It is Sunderland’s traders that see the benefit of this and local people, who secure related jobs as a result.

“We’re determined to ensure that both residents and visitors are able to enjoy fantastic events – from the long list of summer events focused on music, art and culture, to health and wellness orientated activities, like our BIG Walk events that run year-round.”

The number of days visitors spent in the city was up by 6 per cent year on year last year at 9.7 million visitor days and the number of people directly employed in tourism the city’s tourism sector stood at 4,157, up by 5 per cent.

Sunderland AFC managing director, Tony Davison, who – along with owners Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven, has been keen to see concerts return to the Stadium of Light, said: “The concerts really do bring a huge feel good factor to Sunderland, and with only a few weeks to go, there’s already a sense of that excitement building.

“We are delighted to be kicking off a busy summer of events, supported by Sunderland City Council, that will make for a fantastic few months for the city, building into the autumn and winter season, when – as well as being in the thick of the football season, which in itself attracts huge visitor numbers to Sunderland – there will be a great deal of other city events leading us towards Christmas and the New Year.”

The concert has already been warmly welcomed by a host of business leaders, including Sunderland Business Partnership chair, Ellen Thinnesen, who said: “The stadium concerts bring huge advantage to Sunderland, and the Business Group is fully supportive of the club and council working together to reinstate them. It will make for a fantastic day for the whole city.”

A crowd of almost 50,000 is expected for the concert and there’s a limited amount of hospitality packages still available.

To book hospitality tickets for the Stadium of Light’s concert, contact the team on 0371 911 1555 (option 3), email spicegirls@safc.com or visit www.safc.com/spicegirls. Standard tickets are available from Ticketmaster.