Andrew Cooper: City is gearing up for the festive season

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Remember, remember the fifth of November… for me this old rhyme reminds me that Bonfire Night kicks of the start of the season of dark nights and winter events.

I enjoyed the Springhead Park Bonfire Night in Rothwell when I first arrived in Leeds; a great sense of community and with other organised bonfire events planned across the city, this is always an enjoyable time of the year.

Attention then quickly turns to Christmas and the reminder of how many sleeps we have left, and more importantly how long we have to get into gear and do our Christmas shopping.

Shopping at this time of year is always made more enjoyable with the sense of magic and atmosphere created by the Christmas lighting and animation we see in the city centre.

With a national focus to support our high streets, shopping locally in Leeds has everything we need, and the city can boast one of the most comprehensive retail and hospitality offers in the UK.

This year LeedsBID, the business improvement district in the city, has worked with businesses and the local authority to enhance the Christmas experience in the centre of Leeds.

The traditional Leeds lights switch-on takes place on Thursday November 8 from 6.45pm. With lights adorning The Queens Hotel, Holy Trinity Church on Boar Lane, Park Square and Platform above Leeds Station sending out a festive glow throughout the city, these enhancements really do go a long way to brighten the mood and lift spirits during the winter months. These have all been funded by the businesses themselves through LeedsBID.

In addition, 2018 will see a trail of Christmas trees across the city, highlighting that Christmas is not just confined to our retail areas. This trail provides a fun and family way to enjoy the city at Christmas time with new trees to see at St Peter’s Square, Granary Wharf, Dortmund Square and first direct arena.

Briggate is always a seasonal focal point and this year we see a 10m high tree standing proud in the centre of the street; a real spectacle in the heart of the city.

You can follow all that is going on in Leeds this Christmas on social media via #LeedsChristmas.

Finally, Christmas is also a time when we consider those less fortunate or who are in need.

As we are a compassionate city of companies, organisations and individuals, we do not want to see people in need on our streets but instead collectively we want to work together to solve the complex challenges of these vulnerable people.

As a city, businesses, charities, the local authority and community groups have got together to back bigchangeleeds.co.uk

This campaign is a real and practical way we can all help the charitable organisations which are directly supporting those on the streets of Leeds at this time of year.

Backed by the Yorkshire Evening Post and its readers, the website enables people to give time, money and items which go quickly and directly to those in genuine need.

So, while we are all enjoying the events that lead up to Christmas, together let’s make a ‘Big Change’, demonstrating how in Leeds we come together for collective good to make a lasting change and a real difference.

Andrew Cooper is Chief Executive of LeedsBID (Business Improvement District).