Historically a part of County Durham, Sunderland received its city status in 1992. Sunderland was once hailed as ‘the largest shipbuilding town in the world’, however, as former heavy industries have declined, so electronic, chemical, paper and motor manufacturers have replaced them, including the city’s Nissan Car Plant.

Sunderland has certainly come a long way since its main focus was trading salt and coal at its growing port over the centuries. Home of the city’s iconic football club, The Stadium of Light, supporters in their droves attend all local football games. Sunderland AFC, aka the Black Cats, attract football supporters from up and down the country, in addition to international exposure also.

However, it’s outside of the football ground that the city scores heavily. With the River Wear passing through the centre of the city, and the International Glass Centre occupying one side of its banks, the city of Sunderland has earned itself recognition as a leader in regeneration. Moreover, this Glass Centre lends support to the city’s historical influence on glass making by providing local, and international glass makers with working facilities and a shop to showcase their work.

2008 saw the Sunderland Aquatic Centre open adjacent to the city’s football stadium, and hosts the only Olympic-size swimming pool between the cities of Leeds and Edinburgh. And for those not so active days, one can always visit the Bridges Shopping Centre in the heart of the city centre and indulge in a little retail therapy.

Culture and the Arts cannot escape Sunderland either with its very own Empire Theatre that opened in 1907, and is still to this day one of the very few theatres of the North that can accommodate the popular London West-End shows. Having said this, there is one performance that is too grand for the likes of the Empire, and this takes place each year on the last weekend of July; the Sunderland International Air Show attracts people from up and down the country with its many attractions, stalls, outdoor events and the infamous Red Arrows display team who reverberate their way along the sea front at Roker and Seaburn.