Video: 2013 Leeds Christmas lights switch on

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Christmas festivities were kicked off with a bang in Leeds as Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams switched on the city centre’s stunning light display.

The boxing star was among a host of celebrities at the big switch-on in Victoria Gardens where thousands of people enjoyed the entertainment.

PIC: Mark Bickerdike

PIC: Mark Bickerdike

The athlete was given the honour of switching on the Christmas lights, one of the largest displays in the country, before spectacular fireworks illuminated the city’s skyline.

Musicians from up-and-coming boy band The Vamps, who dressed as a variety of animals, were greeted with screams from waiting fans as they played their big hit Can We Dance.

Another star to light up the stage was singer-songwriter Gabriella Cilmi, while ex-Coronation Street favourite Bruce Jones, who played Les Battersby, appeared with Santa.

Former X Factor finalists Same Difference also entertained the crowds. The brother and sister singing duo Sean and Sarah Smith are preparing to star in the Leeds Carriageworks Christmas pantomime of Sleeping Beauty from December.

Also featured was guitarist and vocalist Kirsty White, who was the winner of Leeds Council’s annual Breeze Has Talent competition.

Retailers in the city are hoping the switch-on will kick-start a bumper Christmas season amid expectations it will prove a huge draw for shoppers. The free event was organised by council and Real Radio with support from the Yorkshire Evening Post.

It is part of a wider programme of events in Leeds to celebrate Christmas organised by the council including the 12th annual Christkindelmarkt in Millennium Square which opens on Friday.

There will be further celebrations on November 8 when the Christmas lights are switched on for the first time at the Trinity shopping centre since it was opened eight months ago.