KEIGHLEY is gearing up for a cracker of a Christmas.

The festive countdown will begin in earnest when the town's Christmas lights are switched-on, on Sunday, November 26.

A day of activities will take place around the town centre, culminating with the plunger being pushed to illuminate the seasonal displays.

Both the Airedale Shopping Centre and Keighley Business Improvement District (BID) are spearheading events.

"There will be plenty of activities and entertainment throughout the day for all ages," said shopping centre manager, Steve Seymour.

"It is a free event and will be even bigger than last year – everyone is welcome to come along and join in the fun."

Attractions from 10am will include Bing and Flop from Cbeebies and other popular children's characters.

There will be entertainers, and from 3pm Pulse 1 will be in action in Bow Street, near the former central post office.

Performers will take to the stage, Keighley Cougars are appearing and there will be a choir.

The main guest – whose identity is still to be revealed – will entertain from about 4.10pm.

And the switch-on of the lights, which will also feature Santa and town mayor Councillor Mohammed Nazam, takes place at 4.30pm.

It will be followed by a fireworks display and snow cannon.

The event also launches upcoming late-night shopping in the centre, which will stay open until 7.30pm each Thursday from November 30 and between December 18 and 23.

Free parking will be on offer after 4pm on the late-night Thursdays and on Saturdays throughout next month.

Keighley Market, in Low Street, will also be getting festive in the coming weeks.

Among the attractions there will be a Santa's grotto and seasonal entertainment.

Last year, Christmas activities at the market raised £2,170 for the Oxenhope Sue Ryder hospice, Manorlands.

In Cavendish Street, there is a new seasonal display of lights – supplied and fitted by Keighley-based Christmas Plus.

And festive music will be broadcast.

Keighley BID, which is behind both schemes, has also helped fund new Christmas lighting in Low Street.

Bradford Council says Christmas activities are planned across the district and it is urging people to give their support.

The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Keighley councillor Abid Hussain, has launched the civic head's annual Christmas Stars Appeal – when people are invited to dedicate a star to a loved one for the Christmas tree in City Hall.

The council's countryside and rights of way team has organised two festive walks, on December 9 and 13.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, executive member for environment, sport and culture, said: "Christmas is such a special time of year and these events across the district give people plenty of opportunities to celebrate."