Leeds Christmas lights switch on: Why the city centre event is cancelled and alternative events

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The Christmas lights switch in the city centre was once a staple of the festive calendar in Leeds but will once again not be going ahead.

Famous guests have previously been part of the event but it fell victim to Leeds City Council budget cuts in 2021. The authority said budget changes are part of an attempt to plug an £87m black hole in its finances.

When the cancellation was confirmed in 2021, a spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: “As part of ongoing efforts to meet unprecedented budget pressures, Leeds City Council has been identifying – and consulting on – a number of changes to the way we deliver our Christmas lights service in the coming years.

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“These changes will mean that as of this year, we will no longer be holding our city centre Christmas lights switch-on event in the same format, saving the authority approximately £53,000 each year.”

Crowds gathered for the switch on in 2019. Image: Jonathan GawthorpeCrowds gathered for the switch on in 2019. Image: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Crowds gathered for the switch on in 2019. Image: Jonathan Gawthorpe

However, the people of Leeds can rest assured that events will be held elsewhere in the city. Pudsey’s lights will be switched on by gymnast Nile Wilson and the event will take place on December 4. It will also feature a Christmas market and live performances.

On December 3, a one-off Christmas market will be hosted on Town Street in Horsforth and will coincide with their lights switch on. Attendees will be able to enjoy live music, refreshments and stalls as the lights are turned on in preparation for Christmas celebrations. In Armley, the lights on Town Street will be turned on at 6pm on December 4 and will follow a festive window display contest, candy cane hunt and Christmas market.