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Keighley lights switch-on has the X Factor - courtesy of finalist Kye Sones
Buy this photo » X Factor finalist Kye Sones wows the gathered crowd, who were all straining to grab a picture of their pop idol
Crowds packed into Keighley’s Church Green on Sunday for the switching on of the town’s Christmas lights.
Hundreds of people turned out for the ceremony, with many there to see the star of the show – X Factor finalist Kye Sones.
Girls screamed as the singer took to the stage about half-an-hour before the switch-on ceremony to perform several songs.
His repertoire included the last song he performed on the hit ITV show before he was eliminated.
“I love it here,” Kye told the audience, which was greeted with cheers.
He rejoined Pulse roadshow guest comperes Paul Foster and Debbie Lindley on stage at 4pm, with several others, including Santa and the town mayor and mayoress, Councillor George Metcalf and his wife Nanette, to press the plunger that illuminated the lights.
Coun Metcalf told the crowd: “In such a multi-cultural town, it’s very important we all enjoy this festive season together. Let’s everybody have a fantastic time.”
The switch-on was the highlight of a day of free activities and entertainment across the town centre to mark the start of Keighley’s countdown to Christmas.
At the Church Green stage area, performers during the day included the Tom Gee Band, Sister Act Showgirls, Almost Adele and Just Jessie J.
The Airedale Shopping Centre was home to stilt walkers, balloon modelling and a walking Christmas pudding, while the Worth Valley Young Farmers launched their new animated DVD – entitled ‘Why local food matters’ – and manned produce stalls. Shops were open as usual.
Tribute duo Ab Fab, formation shopping trolley dancers Granny Turismos and Santa’s Flagship could be seen in the centre and at other locations, including Cavendish Street and the Royal Arcade in Low Street.
Many of Cavendish Street’s independent stores opened their doors and Inc. used its shop window as a performance area.
The Royal Arcade hosted its Christmas launch event, with bands and entertainers, close-up magic, face painting, balloon toys and traditional fare, such as roast chestnuts, old fashioned sweets and candyfloss.
Central Hall in Alice Street was the venue for a craft fair by Lavender Fields. There were also visiting musicians throughout the day and a magic show. Café Central provided festive food.
Local musicians appeared across the town and magician Toby Davies performed on the streets and on stage at various venues.
Ab Fab launched Keighley’s Celebrity Christmas Gift Hunt at noon, setting off from Church Green and making their unsteady way around the route of the trail, calling in at shops and other venues to see what was on offer and solving clues.
The gift hunt will run until Christmas Eve, with entry forms available from shops, cafes, the library, town hall and bus station. The winner will receive a prize – worth more than £300 – including a food hamper, toys, family cinema and museum passes and discount vouchers.
Also on the streets was Keighley Town Council’s 1892 horse-drawn Black Maria, visiting venues and promoting the police museum.
Keighley town centre manager, Philip Smith, said the day had been a huge success, and he thanked everyone who had contributed.
He added: “The switch-on was a great event and it was a pleasure to see so many smiling faces. It was just the thing to start people’s festive season.”
The event also marked the beginning of late-night shopping. The Airedale Shopping Centre will be open until 8pm Thursdays and from 10.30am to 4.30pm Sundays in the run-up to Christmas, with the market and other businesses also opening late.