Sunderland culture

Sunderland was voted third in the UK on the ‘Happiness Scale of Richness and Fulfilment’ 2015 and recently launched its bid for UK City of Culture 2021 in the recently redeveloped, Keel Square.

The city has a rich heritage featuring a wonderful mixture of Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian architecture, coupled with a vibrant social scene and world-class attractions. Sunderland is an exciting city with arts and culture on its doorstep.

A city by the sea

The city centre is a stone’s throw from miles of stunning coastline, both Roker and Seaburn beaches have been nationally recognised among the best beaches in the country in the national Seaside Awards 2015. Whether you fancy taking in the sea air with a relaxing stroll or want to tuck into seaside classics such as fish and chips and ice cream sundaes with breath-taking views, there’s a smorgasbord of options to sate all appetites.


The Cultural Spring has brought arts and culture to 100,000 people across the North East in its first year. The £2 million cultural project has delivered a series of events and community inspired workshops within the region, bringing arts and culture to the doorstep. The aim is to inspire, entertain and bring communities together through ongoing events such as crafts, street art, dance and live music.

Rush The Cultural Spring

Sunderland International Airshow. Seaburn beach is home to the biggest free airshow in Europe. The annual event now in its 27th year draws crowds in their hundreds of thousands to witness the magnificent Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – The Red Arrows in action.

Sunderland culture image 1

City centre hotspots

Sunderland Empire is the biggest theatre in the North East, bringing the best West End shows to the region. Award-winning productions such as Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Wicked’ have taken centre stage to entertain thousands of theatregoers.

Sunderland Empire audience

National Gallery for Contemporary Art brings exciting work by established and emerging artists both nationally and internationally to the city. The gallery is on the top floor of the City Library and Arts Centre which features magnificent displays, exhibitions, family activities and workshops.

art exhibition

Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens is home to exhibitions, galleries, more than 2,000 tropical flowers and the only known British example of a very rare fossil Gliding Reptile (Coelurosauravus) which is 250 million years old. The Art Gallery features the largest collection of works by LS Lowry outside of Salford. Discover Sunderland’s history from its prehistoric past to the present in the heart of the city centre.

 winter gardens 

National Glass Centre. See a world-class exhibition, enjoy Afternoon Tea overlooking the Port of Sunderland, watch a glass blowing demonstration or come and have a go yourself.

glass blowing

Sunderland’s thriving music scene

Home to nationally-acclaimed musicians, The Futureheads, Hyde & Beast, Frankie & the Heartstrings and The Lake Poets; Sunderland’s music scene is electric.

The Bunker has developed music and arts in Sunderland for over 30 years. The recording and rehearsal facilities continue to act as a base for hundreds of bands, and many have gone on to play to crowds on national and international stages. If you're interested in making your own music, The Bunker is the place for you.

INDEPENDENT coins itself as ‘Sunderland’s only venue-disco-drinking den’. The venue has been known to host art exhibitions and craft markets and every Friday and Saturday you’ll find DJs and bands playing everything from Nu-Jazz and House to Funk & Soul.

Tall Ships Race 2018

Sunderland, with its rich maritime history was once known as the largest shipbuilding town in the world, and is set to be the starting port for the prestigious Tall Ships Races in 2018, along with host ports France, Denmark and Norway. The Port of Sunderland has been given the honour of starting the race on Saturday 14 July 2018 and more than 70 ships will be berthed at the Port of Sunderland along the city’s waterfront.

Get it in your diary

For upcoming events in Sunderland visit the See it Do it website.