Festival will roar into life

Sunderland will roar to life with the launch of the first-ever African Festival as Disney’s The Lion King opens at the Sunderland Empire.

To celebrate the arrival of the stage production of The Lion King, Sunderland’s two day African Festival will kick start celebrations on Friday, September 19, from 5.30pm to 11pm.

Hosted at Sunderland Minister, Friday’s festivities will include traditional African drumming and dance performances from the professional theatre act The Mighty Zulu Nation, which will be accompanied by Fairtrade stalls offering a selection of ethnic goods, African-inspired cocktails and rich cuisine from the continent.

Ken Dunbar, chief executive of Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID), said: “Over the two day spectacle, the streets of Sunderland will be alive with an exciting array of free entertainment to suit all ages, adding the first-ever African Festival to the incredible line up of events which the city has hosted this year.

“The opportunity for visitors to the city to interact with this vibrant and colourful culture during the festival is not to be missed. People should come and get into the African spirit, while enjoying everything that Sunderland has to offer including its fantastic range of cafés, restaurants and shops.”

On the Saturday events will take place at Sunderland Minister and Town Park from 11am to 11pm.

Visitors will have the chance to get up close to African animals from Discovery Zoo, while further performances from The Mighty Zulu Nation and Sunderland group Dance Jam will take place throughout the day. There will also be opportunities for families to get involved with African drumming workshops, storytelling, face painting and crafts.

For full details of the African Festival visit www.facebook.com/sunderlandexperience