Things to do in Sunderland | Entertainment

As befits a city that’s given birth to Emeli Sandé, Bryan Ferry and Oscar-winning film producers, Sunderland has a rich entertainment scene. From live music venues to a trilogy of high-quality theatres, including Empire Theatre, and the sleeping giant football team, Sunderland AFC, Sunderland is a busy city.


The city that gave the world Bryan Ferry, indie punk band The Futureheads and BBC Radio DJ Lauren Laverne continues to channel its energy into music.

If the karaoke bars and clubs don’t do it for you in Sunderland, don’t worry – musical salvation is at hand, largely thanks to Independent. A dedicated live music venue, they’ve had a veritable who’s who of indie and alternative through their doors including Kasabian, the Kaiser Chiefs and Jamie T. The club also pushes alternative club nights, with Erol Alkan and DJ Yoda among the more famous names to have played there. Handily placed in the centre of town, in Holmeside, it’s just a five-minute walk from our City Centre hotel. As you’d expect from the name, the bar also supports independent breweries including Brewdog and Sierra Nevada and the playlist during the week is equally indie-centric, with a mix of classics interspersed with tracks from up-and-coming bands.

Partly responsible for helping push local bands like The Futureheads and Field Music into the national consciousness, The Bunker is a recording and rehearsal space in Sunderland that’s at the heart of the city’s live music scene. They now run two record labels and actively look to embrace and support local talent, while also providing training and career guidance for budding musicians and young people in the city.

A multi-purpose venue – also in Holmeside, down the road from Independent – The Point occasionally hosts live music and gigs including regular tribute acts, with Elvis, Tina Turner and Michael Jackson sound-a-likes all recent guests.

The latest addition to the city’s live music scene is Bonded Warehouse, a stylish bar and restaurant with the focus firmly on live music. Set in a lovingly restored 19th century warehouse located in Fish Quay, they host regular gigs, acoustic sessions and have a well-stocked bar with over eight different guest ales and lagers.


Lively club scene in Sunderland


Any city would be proud to have a cultural beacon like the Sunderland Empire in its midst. With over a century of rich history behind it, and some incredible names having walked its stage including Charlie Chaplin and The Beatles, the theatre is a shining light in Sunderland. You can read about the Empire Theatre and its theatrical cousins The Royalty Theatre and Arts Centre Washington in our dedicated Sunderland theatre guide.


A club with an impressive history, Sunderland are one of the most successful teams in English League history while the city’s Greyhound Stadium combines two of the city’s loves – sport and parties.

Their current league position might give little indication as to their illustrious past, but over the decades, Sunderland AFC have been one of the most victorious teams in England. They’ve won the top flight league six times, most recently in 1936, a total only beaten by five other clubs. The club haven’t been as successful in recent generations, but were League Cup finalists in 2014 and have one of the best grounds in the UK thanks to their 49,000-capacity Stadium of Light venue that’s now 20 years old.

The Stadium of Light

The team, also colloquially known as The Black Cats, currently play their games in the Championship and are in the middle of a relegation battle – history is on their side, however, as they’ve only fallen to the third tier of English football once before since being formed in 1879. Sunderland AFC enjoy a long-standing rivalry with local neighbours Newcastle, easily one of the fiercest derbies in English football. The ground is located a mile from our City Centre hotel, with plenty of pubs and restaurants en route.

A city mainstay since opening in 1940, Sunderland Greyhound Stadium hosts five race meetings each week from Tuesday to Saturday. The 1,700-capacity ground is as famous now for its races as it is for its nights out, with attractive packages on offer for office parties, stag and hen parties spread across their two bars and restaurant. The Greyhound Stadium is slightly out of town, but only a 10-minute drive from our North West hotel.

Video guide to entertainment in Sunderland

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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.