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Sunderland is a city with many different sides to it. From its 7th century beginnings as the religious centre of Monkweamouth, the city has gone through many transitions from industrial hub to modern, multicultural city, with African, Chinese and Pakistani communities.
Explore museums and galleries, take in a show at Sunderland Empire or build sandcastles at Roker and Seaburn beaches. Sunderland is also in close proximity to both Newcastle and Durham, meaning you can make your visit part of a North East tour.
Although you may not think of Sunderland as a classic beach destination, its twin beaches boast miles of golden sand and are Blue Flag award winners.
It’s been a favourite picnic spot for Mackems (as the local Sunderland folk are known) for hundreds of years. Build a sandcastle or take a stroll along Roker Pier to the lighthouse.
To access the pier, you’ll need to go at low tide, so check before you make plans to visit.
The North East’s largest theatre is almost worth a visit even when you’re not seeing a show. In fact, there’s even an hour and a half tour dedicated to the story of this iconic Edwardian venue, including access to dressing rooms and the stage itself. Both inside and out, this 100 year-old Sunderland landmark is a spectacular sight.
The bill for 2018 includes Broadway show Jersey Boys, as well as stand up from the likes of Jason Manford and Russell Brand.
Let no one claim that Sunderland doesn’t have its exotic side.
Over 45 hectares, Washington Wetland Centre is home to tropical birds, incredible insects and wonderful woodland on the River Wear. The site is a welcome stopover for migrating birds (including entire flocks of herons) making their way across the North Sea – meaning that whatever time of year you go, you’re bound to see something different.
Even if the weather is against you, there’s still plenty of sheltered and indoor areas to explore and a programme of changing art exhibitions.
If you’ve never seen a 135-year-old lion before, you’ve never met Wallace - who’s been a resident since the 19th century. The museum boasts an eclectic range of exhibits that all work together to tell the city’s stories. From the first Nissan car to roll off Sunderland’s production line in 1986 to some much older Anglo-Saxon artefacts, there’s a lot to see.
The Art Gallery exhibits one-time Sunderland resident, L.S. Lowry, while the modern Winter Gardens are ironically a tropical paradise under a glass rotunda – with 2,000 varieties of plants that can be appreciated along a tree top walkway.
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