It’s not always a blaze of glory: five memorable moments from Leeds’s Christmas lights parties

Shayne Ward in Leeds in 2007.
Shayne Ward in Leeds in 2007.
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The countdown to Christmas in Leeds starts tonight when the city hosts its annual festive lights switch-on party.

Thousands of revellers are expected to flock to Victoria Gardens for an event that will include appearances from famous names such as Collabro, Lee Brennan and Danny McGuire.

The YEP reports on Danny La Rue's 1989 no-show.

The YEP reports on Danny La Rue's 1989 no-show.

And, to whet your appetite for this evening’s entertainment, here are five memorable moments from previous Christmas lights spectaculars in Leeds.

* Back in 1989, Mickey Mouse pulled out of the big switch-on after a Walt Disney ice spectacular that was due to take place on Woodhouse Moor was cancelled due to safety concerns.

Danny La Rue stepped in as a last-minute replacement but then decided to give the event a miss after council bosses refused to let him drag up and appear as Margaret Thatcher.

Disaster – and the prospect of a very empty stage – was averted when Melanie Hill, then starring in TV sitcom Bread, was drafted in to do the honours.

Paul Daniels.

Paul Daniels.

* Noel Edmonds arrived with sidekick Mr Blobby in 1993 and was counting down to the big switch-on when it came to the crowd’s attention that, by accident, the illuminations had already been lit.

Edmonds told the Yorkshire Evening Post the fiasco had been the worst live show foul-up of his career.

The YEP’s report on the evening’s proceedings was headlined “Countdown to Disaster!”.

* There were scenes of fandemonium at the 1994 celebrations as 10 girls in the audience fainted.

Vinnie Jones in action for Leeds United along with team-mate David Batty.

Vinnie Jones in action for Leeds United along with team-mate David Batty.

Pint-sized magician Paul Daniels was pressing the all-important button that year but it was pop pin-ups Bad Boys Inc who were responsible for getting the Leeds lasses hot and bothered.

* Leeds United cult hero-turned-movie star Vinnie Jones was one of the main guests at 2001’s event.

After being interviewed by the YEP on the steps of Leeds Town Hall while wearing a pair of carpet slippers – we never found out why – he showed his softer side by picking a disabled girl out of the crowd and dancing with her on stage.

*Singer Beverley Knight was chosen to turn on the lights in 2007 but pulled out after realising she had double booked Leeds with another gig.

Fortunately, X Factor star Shayne Ward was available to step in at the 11th hour and keep the fans happy.