Sunderland’s new Northern Spire bridge to close this Sunday for artistic event

13 September 2018

Sunderland’s impressive new Northern Spire bridge will be closed this Sunday (Sept 16) when it hosts a celebratory artistic event to mark its opening.
The stunning bridge across the River Wear, and its associated link roads, will be closed to both vehicles and pedestrians from 11pm on Saturday night (Sept 15), through to midnight on Sunday (Sept 16), to make way for Wonderlooper.
During this time, drivers and pedestrians wishing to cross the river will be diverted across the Queen Alexandra Bridge, the Wearmouth Bridge or the A19 Hylton Bridge. 
All tickets for the event – which were free – have gone and people will only be able to access it if they have a ticket for a specific time slot on the day.
More than a thousand people have snapped up tickets for the Wonderlooper showcase on Sunday, which will use musical kaleidoscopes – created from leftover materials in the construction of the bridge – to enable people to experience the cable stayed structure in a totally unique way.
During hour-long slots, people can walk across the deck and view and listen to the bridge through the musical kaleidoscopes, named Wonderloopers, which will give a totally different perspective on Northern Spire.


Leader of Sunderland City Council Cllr Graeme Miller said the event promised to be a wonderful affair.
“Northern Spire has been open for a couple of weeks now and I think everyone is enjoying travelling across it, and, of course, is admiring it,” said Cllr Miller.
“It is certainly a beautiful addition to the Sunderland skyline. The Wonderlooper event on Sunday is a chance to celebrate the city’s stunning new bridge once more. The Wonderloopers sound fascinating; they will certainly give people an opportunity to experience the bridge in a different way.
“During the closure of Northern Spire and the associated link roads, we urge people to use the other bridges to get across the river, to follow the signs and to drive carefully and in accordance with the speed limits.”
The Wonderloopers are the invention of artist Di Mainstone, who has been commissioned by Sunderland Culture to work with communities on both sides of the new bridge on the IN-SPIRE project, which celebrates the new river crossing.


Di hosted two hackathon events at FabLab, which were attended by musicians, engineers and technologists to help her explore different ways to play the bridge and create instruments from the unused pipes, which are the outer casings of the 28 cable stays that take the weight of the bridge deck.
“We had the idea to use cut-offs from the pipes to create giant musical kaleidoscopes to look at the bridge and the environment differently,” said Di.
“We have created a new audio-visual instrument – the Wonderlooper – to look at Northern Spire and the city from a new perspective.”
The IN-SPIRE project has been commissioned as part of Sunderland Culture’s Great Place project, jointly funded by Arts Council England (ACE) and Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and is being delivered in partnership with Sunderland City Council, the Cultural Spring and Creative Fuse North East.
The event is strictly ticket only, and those people who have acquired tickets are advised to arrive 15 minutes before their allotted time.
Limited parking is available at Pallion Retail Park, on the south side of the river, and at Hylton Retail Park, on the north side.
Pallion Metro Station – which is a ten-minute walk from the south entrance to the Wonderlooper event – is also available.
For more information, go to