Budding young authors are invited to submit spine-tingling tales of spooks and spirits as part of Sunderland’s Halloween celebrations.

Sunderland BID is calling on youngsters from across the city to put pen to paper for its Spooky Stories Competition.

And not only will the winners in each age category receive a selection of treats, but they will also hear their story read out by one of the authors on the judging panel tasked with choosing the winners.

This year, judges include authors Anne Twine and Maisie Raine, alongside Daivid Turton, Dr Sarah Dobbs and Wayne Madden from Sunderland’s New Enterprise Studios and the only rule of entry is that stories must be no longer than 500 words.

The Sunderland’s Spooky Stories competition is part of the city’s third annual Lights Out festival, which will run from 22 to 31 October.

While last year’s festival was pared down because of the restrictions caused by Covid 19, organiser Sunderland BID has promised it will be bigger and better this autumn – culminating in the Halloween Community Parade.

The parade will take place on 29 October and travel through the city, ending at The Point, where the winning stories will be read aloud and the winners will also receive a git voucher from Waterstones Sunderland and a box of Halloween treats from top city baker, The Sweet Petite.

Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland BID, which is organising the Spooky Stories competition in conjunction with Sunderland Libraries, said entries, “should be the spookier the better.

“We are looking forward to meeting zombies, vampires, ghosts and ghouls and to read edgy plots with sinister twists that have the judges on the edge of their seats,” she said.

There are three categories – five to nine year-olds, 10-13 and 14-18 – and the closing date for entries is 8 October.

Entry details are available at www.sunderlandbid.co.uk/sunderland-spooky-stories and the winners will be announced on 22 October.

The giant, inflatable Makem Monsters will also be making a welcome return for the Lights Out! Festival and details of the full event schedule and how to get involved can be found at www.sunderlandbid.co.uk