The Christmas programme is a cornerstone of the BID’s delivery programme and for 2014 the BID invested £100,000 to make it ‘the best Christmas yet’. Working in partnership with Sunderland City Council and Sunderland live the aspiration was to;
“Make the Christmas and New Year experience in Sunderland special for visitors, encouraging them to visit the city repeatedly over the period, by giving them an enjoyable experience, and encourage the use of the variety of offers, events and facilities available to them”
The Christmas programme ran from 13 November to 6 January and over 30,000 people took part in the various activities which included:
Christmas light switch on
Sunderland’s Christmas programme launched on Thursday 13 November with a very special guest helping to switch on the city’s Christmas lights. 90s pop star Faye Tozer, from the hugely popular award winning group Steps, joined The Right Worshipful, The Mayor of Sunderland, Cllr Stuart Porthouse and Balamory's PC Plum AKA Andrew Agnew from the Empire Theatre’s Christmas pantomime, to press the button and ‘switch on the lights’.
The event was held for the first time at the Crowtree site, with a full programme of entertainment including this year’s City Sings winners, East Herrington Primary School Choir and Eclipse, Southmoor Secondary School Choir as well as the rhythm and blues tones of The Revolutionaires. The event closed with a breath taking firework display lighting up the city sky.
Advent door promotion*
A full size Advent Door arrived in Sunderland on 1 December and gave shoppers the opportunity to win prizes from Sunderland businesses for 24 days. Aimed to bring vibrancy into the city centre on a daily basis throughout December and give businesses an opportunity to raise their profile amongst visitors to the city centre.
Building on the success of last year’s street entertainment programme, 2014 welcomed a range of colourful and illuminated characters to the city centre every Thursday and Saturday. Christmas shoppers were treated to a variety of entertainment from light up Spark drummers, glowing stilt walkers to break dancing Santa’s.
The celebration of Christmas is one rich in history and culture. On Thursday 4 to Saturday 6 December, Market Square in Sunderland city centre came to life with a colourful burst of music, dance and food as we celebrated Christmas from around the world. The three day festival offered a variety of multi-cultural activities and performances giving shoppers a taste of how different countries celebrate Christmas.
Lighting up the city*
The programme featured magical lighting projections on some of the city’s most popular buildings including the Minster and Winter Gardens among others, giving a whole new festive look and feel to the city centre in the lead up to the big day.
On the ground too, the city gleamed with appearances from illuminated characters and performers.
For the first time hundreds of Santa’s descended on Mowbray Park as part of a series of Santa Runs on Sunday 7 December. The fun started with the family Santa run, which encouraged family members to team up and get involved. Children taking part dressed up in festive costumes and grown-ups were provided with a Santa suit and beard to wear as they ran, jogged or walked the 1.5 mile course which included challenges and treats along the way.
From Thursday 18 - Sunday 22 December the Grand Central Santa Train steamed into Park Lane to take passengers on a festive excursion around the city centre.
Reindeers in the park
Once again Mowbray Park served as home for a family of Reindeers before they took up their Christmas duties. 1000’s paid them a visit over the weekend before Christmas and enjoyed taking pictures.
Sunderland Live launched their first Festive Films event in the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens showing a variety of festive films for all the family.
*BID funded elements
Marketing, PR & Communications
A joint marketing plan was developed with the BID, Sunderland City Council and Sunderland Live. The aim of the marketing campaign was to promote all Christmas related events and activities, using the activity to increase footfall and dwell time in Sunderland city centre.
The key target demographic for the campaign was residents of Sunderland and the surrounding areas including Washington, with the secondary target demographic encompassing Newcastle and Durham.
A Christmas in Sunderland brand was developed to be used on all collateral to deliver one message for all partners.
Marketing channels included:
Newspapers & magazines
Sunderland Connect bus wraps
Partner & stakeholder assets
Metro carriage cards
Christmas in Sunderland 2014 Report
Market research was carried out with visitors during and after the Christmas programme using the following methods:
Face to face at some of the Christmas events in the city centre
Online link to survey posted on social media
Online link sent out in newsletters
The topline results relating to the Christmas events & Marketing and PR impact are presented in the attached Christmas in Sunderland 2014 Report.
This feedback will be used to identify what elements of the Christmas programme and marketing activity had the most impact and if they should be repeated.