Thousands turn out for Leeds Christmas Lights switch on

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It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas as thousands turned out to see the annual festive lights switch-on in Leeds city centre.

The crowd packing the Headrow gave a massive round of applause as hometown hero Josh Warrington, the current IBF world champion, pressed the button to get the festive season underway with a huge burst of colourful fireworks.

Students from John Smeaton Academy – the boxer’s former school – made sure they were in the front row to cheer on their hero as he joined a host of sports personalities and performers for the event.

Singer songwriter Kevin Davy White, a finalist in last year’s X Factor, went down a storm, with people clapping and singing along.

And Leeds-based indie pop four-piece Victors entertained fans news and old, with some of the audience queuing up afterwards to get a selfie.

Hosts Radio Aire breakfast show presenters Ant and Caroline entertained the crowd along with Cbeebies favourites Alex Winters and Katy Ashworth, who led a festive singalong with panto favourite Jez Edwards, who will be appearing as Phillipe Philoppe in Beauty and the Beast at the Carriageworks Theatre.

PICS: Steve Riding

PICS: Steve Riding

People out and about with their families said how safe and child-friendly the event felt.

Joanne Marshall, from Leeds, said: “I think they do (the council) try really hard. The lights are always really nice. They always try to put things on for children and make it child friendly whatever events they’re running. It’s a child friendly city.”

Amina Zaf, from Leeds, comes every year. She said: “It’s our home town. Everyone coming together, it’s nice.”

Other performers included Britain’s Got Talent star Micky P Kerr, Breeze Has Talent winner Frankie Bounds and Otley schoolgirl Emeli Mumford, 16, who has recorded original song Dear Santa in aid of Save the Children.

The switch-on marks the official start of the city’s ‘Make it Leeds’ this Christmas campaign which will feature a number of special events.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “The Christmas Lights Switch-on is always one of the highlights of the year and this evening has been no exception.

“It’s wonderful to see so many people and families coming together to have some fun and officially get the festive season in Leeds under way.

“We’re also particularly thrilled to have welcomed Josh Warrington to the switch-on this year, a true champion who has flown the flag for Leeds both in and out of the ring, establishing himself as a wonderful example of what can be accomplished through hard work and determination.”