As you’d expect from a city bidding to be the UK City of Culture in 2021, Sunderland has a lot to offer, from diverse art galleries to museums showcasing the region’s strong industrial past, and festivals and events that take in live music and award-winning restaurants.
One of the main visitor attractions in the city, the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens not only houses a fascinating museum and art gallery, but is also home to the Sunderland Art Gallery, making it an artistic double header.
Housed within its many creatively lit spaces, to the north of Mowbray Park, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens is home to several stunning art collections and exhibitions, not least its space dedicated to noted UK painter L.S. Lowry who spent a lot of time in the city and described it as his second home. Alongside an impressive collection of paintings from Lowry, the Art Gallery features Victorian masterpieces and artefacts from around the world spread over four vast floors. With regular events and activities, there’s always something to see – open all week long, and with free entry to boot, there’s no excuse not to soak up a bit of history and culture.
The Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, recently rehoused in a new gallery space within the National Glass Centre on the banks of the River Wear, is a 25-minute riverside walk from our City Centre hotel. The gallery aims to bring new art to new people, expanding artistic boundaries and supporting local artists and creators.
Similarly, Creative Cohesion is an art-based charity that seeks to help spread its artistic message across the community via its series of events, classes and workshops as well as providing direct access to its own in-house gallery. Based in the Cultural Quarter of Sunniside, home to some of the city’s best restaurants, bars and clubs, Creative Cohesion was formed eight years ago and has become a hub of artistic activity.
From the region’s largest live music festival to bathing the city in illuminations and eating your way around Sunderland Restaurant week, the north east city has a diverse range of festivals and events.
Now into its third year, the Sunniside Live Festival is the region’s leading music festival and is held in the city centre every July. The two-day affair has previously hosted The Brand New Heavies, Shola Ama, The Happy Mondays and 90s house singer Alison Limerick, and is scheduled to reappear in 2018 with the music running from midday until 10pm. With a capacity limited by its city centre home, the festival routinely sells out in advance, with tickets generally around £14.
On a slightly smaller scale than Blackpool, Sunderland has its own range of illuminations which light up the north east every winter as part of Roker Park Festival of Light. Lights and illuminations are set up along the regenerated seafront while Roker Park gets transformed into a dazzling sea of lights (and fairground rides).
Running for a month from October to November, you can see Sunderland in all its lit-up glory from the towering illuminated observation wheel. Roker Park is open every Thursday–Sunday from 5pm to 10pm, and 10–15 minutes’ drive from our A19/A1231 hotel, featuring light displays, guest artwork and plenty of food and drink outlets, with entry around a pound and kids under two free.Running across many of the city’s best restaurants, bars and cafés, Sunderland Restaurant Week takes place each March with a range of offers designed to get you eating out in the city. With specially created menus, including three courses for just £15 or so, the week is great value for money, with dozens of outlets taking part in the venture. With restaurants spanning Chinese, Indian and European cuisines, you’ll be hard pressed to find a deal that’s not right for you.
Be it 17th century education, the region’s noted glassware history which dates back centuries or spaces that celebrate the region’s part in the industrial revolution, Sunderland’s vivid history comes alive thanks to its six equally impressive museums.
With many open daily and most offering free entry, it’s never been easier to embrace Sunderland’s rich heritage, which is why we’ve put together this page dedicated to Sunderland museums.
Our Sunderland hotels are ideally situated for exploring the city and the coastline - and also taking in the cultural scene, including the National Glass Centre and Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art.
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