Every year Sunderland have an illuminations event (from the 5th October to 5th November), where Roker Park is transformed into an illuminated wonderland that both adults and children will enjoy. Every single year we say that we will take the children but we never get around to it as we keep hearing how bad the traffic and parking is. So when I was recently invited to enjoy a family day out on the Tyne & Wear Metro I knew that a trip to Sunderland Illuminations would be the perfect day out that the whole family would enjoy.
Travelling via Metro is so easy, with stations all over Tyne & Wear making it a quick and convenient way to travel for family day's out. My children always think that it such an adventure to travel by Metro train, we live in North Tyneside and whilst we don't have a Metro within walking distance of our house we do have four stations just a short drive or bus ride away.
Metro has made things even simpler for families to travel with the PAYG Pop card which you can buy from any Nexus travel shop. The cards are free and you just need to top them up with a minimum of £10 and you can use them for travel on the Metro, which saves so much time as you don't have to buy tickets from the machines before each journey. My teen also has an under 16 pop card which I really recommend if you have children and live in Tyne & Wear as once you buy the card from a Nexus travel shop (only £5) your child can travel all day on the bus, metro or ferry in Tyne & wear for just £1.10p a day.
On Saturday we headed to Sunderland Illuminations, we got the Metro from Haymarket to Seaburn (you need the South Hylton route) the journey was a lot quicker then I thought it would be and we arrived at Seaburn in around 20 minutes. The children were kept occupied with the Metro's little book of things to see, which you can pick up from Metro travel shops and stations. It has puzzles and games to keep children occupied as well as lots of great day out ideas you can go on via Metro.
Sunderland Illuminations is on every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5th October until the 5th November 2017 and every day during the half-term holidays (23rd - 29th October) from 5pm -10pm. When you arrive at Seaburn Metro station you turn left and follow the road all the way down to the seafront which is about a 15-minute walk, you end up at a fun fair and if you follow the fun fair you will reach Roker Park where the Illuminations are. We noticed there were buses running from the Metro to Roker Park if you did not fancy the walk.
As it was a nice day we arrived at around 3pm and spent some time at the beach, we stopped off for some ice creams along the way and bumped into some Paw Patrol characters much to the children's delight.
At 5pm we headed to Roker Park as we had pre-booked tickets for the illuminations online, I highly recommend you do this as it is only £1 per person and it means you just show your phone/ email print out and can enter straight away.
As we arrived at 5pm it was still light and the park was not very busy so we managed to see all of the illuminations up close, ride on the model train (which is free but donations are very welcome) and explore the park.
There is a lot of stalls selling food, drinks and sweet treats dotted around the park, as well as many stalls selling flashing lights and balloons. They also have a few small fairground rides inside the park and a helter-skelter and hook the duck. We brought some flashing lights and Minnie Mouse ears for the children which were between £3-£7 each, we also brought some hot dog's which cost £4 each and we brought the children some sweets which were about £2 each.
The Illuminations have a Disney theme this year and the children loved spotting the much-loved characters that they know and love. There was a Frozen display with Anna, Elsa and Olaf lights and 'Let it go' playing in the background, much to Sophia's delight. We also spotted Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Pluto and Goofy and again they had Disney music playing in the background which was nice.
There was the huge Cheshire Cat and White rabbit from previous years in an Alice in Wonderland themed section which looked magical lit up against the darkness.
We also discovered the giant lit up water tap, pumpkins, fairies and dinosaurs dotted around the park.
They had a Tardis and Darlek along with some astronauts making spooky Dr Who sounds. They had some brilliant looking light up artwork and maze which we did not get to see as the queues were quite big when we passed.
The lake area was really nice too with the light up fountains in the centre which looked amazing as the sky got darker. There was a lot of seating around the lake area, so I recommend heading here if you are eating in the park and can't get a picnic bench. They also have lots of portable toilets dotted all around the park, which is ideal when you have young children.
We really enjoyed visiting the illuminations, we spent about two hours in the park and it was a lovely way to spend an evening as a family. My teen enjoyed herself just as much as my three and four-year-old, it was a really nice family event and such great value too at just £1 per person entry (£2 if you pay on the gate).
We left the park just before 7pm and it was starting to get really busy, so if you have young children I would recommend going for it opening at 5pm and leaving before it gets busy at 7pm like we did. We walked along the seafront on the way back and it was extremely busy and they were turning people away who were trying to pay on the gate, so if you can book in advance online.
Along the seafront they had lots of fairground rides and a huge big wheel, they also had lots more food and sweet vans. The little two went on a fairground ride which was £2 each, I did not notice how much the bigger rides or the big wheel were though.
We then walked back to the Metro the way we came which took about 15 minutes and we were back in the house just after 8pm. I honestly had no idea that going somewhere like Sunderland Illuminations could be so quick and easy by Metro, it really was so much more convenient than going in a car and being stuck in traffic and struggling to find a parking space. If you are looking for something to do as a family this half term then I really do recommend a trip to Sunderland Illuminations.
- Book tickets online at www.seeitdoitsunderland.co.uk in advance, they only cost £1 per person and it will save you money and time in the long run.
- Arrive early if you can to beat the queues, we arrived at 5pm when the gates opened and got in straight away, when we left just before 7pm the queue to get in were huge.
- Get a free lost child wristband from the security staff, it has your contact details on in case your child gets lost.
- The model train ride is located at the back of the park (near the play park) and is so much fun for children, head there early to beat the queues.
- Remember these things can be as cheap or as expensive as you want them to be, if you want to save money bring snacks and try to avoid the fairground rides which are located at the back of the park behind the lake or at the seafront.
- Remember to bring change with you if you are planning on buying lights, food etc.
- Remember your camera as you can take some lovely photos, especially when it gets darker.
- Get the Metro if you can as it is so hassle-free.
If you do go I hope you have a lovely time like we did and make sure to let me know what you thought in the comments below.
Disclosure This is a collaborative post with Tyne & Wear Metro.