Thousands flock to Leeds as Rio heroes help light up home city for Christmas

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By Tamara Schofield

A HOST of Leeds celebrities helped to bring a golden glow to the city’s annual Christmas lights switch on last night.

Local Olympic medal winning triathletes Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee were joined on stage by Paralympian athlete Kadeena Cox as guests of honour at the event at Victoria Gardens on the Headrow.

Leeds Light switch on is the biggest Christmas illuminations in the country, with the decorations covering over 13 lights-crowdmiles around Leeds.

Alistair Brownlee said: “We’re incredibly excited and proud to be switching on the Christmas lights in our home town, the people of Leeds have given us so much support and encouragement through the years and seeing tens of thousands of people lining the streets at the recent Rio Heroes parade was an unforgettable experience.”

Kadeena Cox said: “I have been really looking forward to the night as I remember coming to watch the lights being turned on when I was younger and now I’ll be on the other side. It’s always a good event and I’m honoured to have been asked to be a part of it.

“I’m already looking forward to the festive period, my Christmas socks came out yesterday and tonight will really kick off the festivities for me. ”

London girl band and Chrix-factorstmas enthusiasts, Stooshe, sang their top 10 hit Black Heart and others songs to a crowd full of fans mimicking the vocals.

Local X-Factor contestant James Wilson also performed one of his own songs on the night.

James said: “I’m feeling a little bit nervous about performing tonight in my home town and with lots of family and friends here there is added pressure, I’d rather perform to 20,000 people than to my family.

The last time I was at the lights being switched on I was nine years old, I remember going in on the top deck of the bus in my pyjamas.”stormtroopers

Heart Breakfast presenters Dixie and Emma provided a comical approach while hosting the evening’s entertainment alongside Breeze has Talent 2016 winner Cole Lawton-Challenger, CBeebies stars Andy Day and Alex Winters and panto favourite Jez Edwards who will be appearing as Buttons in Cinderella at the annual Christmas panto at the Carriageworks Theatre.

Other entertainment included a funfair on Cookridge Street, a fireworks display and performances from the cast of Strictly Ballroom and Boogie Storm from Britain’s Got Talent performing a festive Stormtrooper dance routine.

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