Sporting stars tripped the light fantastic at the start of this year’s countdown to Christmas in Leeds.
Olympic hero Jonathan Brownlee and Leeds Rhinos ace Ryan Hall were just two of the famous names chosen to do the honours at last night’s switch-on of the city’s festive illuminations.
And, speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post before going on stage, Bramhope-based Jonathan told how the event was bringing back some fond memories.
The triathlete, who won a bronze medal at London 2012, said: “I’m a Leeds lad so tonight is really special.
“When I was younger we used to come down and see all this being turned on.
“My mum and dad sometimes even took me [and brother Alistair] out in the car for a drive around town looking at all the lights!”
Rhinos winger Ryan, meanwhile, admitted he felt a little like the festive season was already here.
The rugby favourite, who was proudly parading Leeds’s Super League trophy, told the YEP: “I was out having a coffee earlier with some mates and there were Christmas songs playing and decorations up so I’m pleased we’re getting these lights on as well now.”
Also in attendance was City of Leeds diver Jack Laugher, who is looking forward to a long-overdue rest at Christmas after a year in which he has competed as far afield as Russia, China and Australia.
Jack, who also represented his country at London 2012, said: “It will be nice to have a break – I’ve even come down here tonight straight from training.”
The evening’s musical entertainment was supplied by Britain’s Got Talent contestants The Loveable Rogues and Tyler James, from The Voice UK.
An estimated 20,000 revellers flocked to Victoria Gardens on The Headrow for the event, which was organised by Leeds City Council and Real Radio with support from the YEP.
The Christmas fun continues in Leeds today with the launch of the city’s annual festive-themed German market in Millennium Square.
* Leeds United manager Neil Warnock and players Jason Pearce, David Norris and Sam Byram were forced to pull out of last night’s switch-on celebrations after the Elland Road squad was hit by a sickness bug.