Stars of stage, sport and screen will join residents from all across Leeds for the city’s first ever virtual Christmas lights switch-on which will premiere on December 2.

The exciting line-up for the online seasonal showpiece has been revealed and features a vibrant mix of chart-topping musical artists, talented local acts, classical and theatrical performances and local sporting heroes who will all lead an innovative city-wide effort to light up Leeds and get the countdown to Christmas underway.

The festive extravaganza will feature a specially recorded version of John Newman’s recent uplifting collaboration with Sigma High on You. John’s credits include three UK No.1 singles and a trio of Brit Award nominations.

John said: “Leeds holds a special place in my heart and with everything that we’ve experienced this year I felt this was such a brilliant event to be a part of. It’s so nice to be invited and to be able to lift everyone’s spirits with music and for us all to be able to connect through virtual events“

Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists Class Dynamix, who were recently commissioned by Child Friendly Leeds, Shine and Crisp Thinking to write a new song appropriately named Light Up For Leeds, will premiere a new and exclusive video of the track featuring children from their gold-partnership school, Windmill Primary who came together within their school bubbles to record a special one-off performance.

Danny Gough, creator and songwriter for Class Dynamix said; “Light up for Leeds is a song with a message that is really needed right now. It’s a song of hope that seeks to empower the people of Leeds to rise up with resilience and create the life they want. We are so grateful for the opportunity to showcase this song and these fantastic kids for this event”

Local brother pop/rock band The Dunwells have also recorded a very special performance of their self-penned single Light up the Sky which will fittingly act as the back drop to a dazzling montage of festive lights and displays from around the city made up of pictures and videos sent in by local residents.

Joining them on the virtual billing will be Grammy-nominated Yorkshire-born musician and 80s legend John Parr who will be performing a unique version of his 1985 worldwide hit single St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) alongside a full symphony orchestra that was recorded at home during lockdown.

Hyde Park Brass will be bringing the much loved sounds of traditional ‘brass band’ in their own contemporary style with unique performances of much loved festive hits; Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love and Band Aid’s, Do They Know It’s Christmas. Born in 2015 at the University of Leeds, this summer saw the band bring live music back to the streets of the UK with their inimitable ‘To Your Street Your’ giving people a much needed lift amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

Keeping in the festive feel Chante Amour will be performing an original Christmas song Hope for Christmas, released on all online platforms on the same day. Chante is one of Leeds’s most exciting up and coming female solo artists, selected to perform at the event via a collaboration with Music:Leeds through their Launchpad program – an open call that provides local artists with mentoring, recording support and live opportunities.

The family friendly entertainment continues with the ‘12 days of Yorkshire Christmas’ sing-along with TV’s Alex Winters and Carriageworks Pantomime legend Jez Edwards – together with an appearance from Santa himself.

Local sporting heroes will also be on hand to spread some motivational goodwill cheer with contributions from the Leeds United first team and ladies squads, IBF featherweight World Champion boxer Josh Warrington and some key video highlights and player messages from the newly crowned Challenge Cup winners Leeds Rhinos.

There will also be a recorded message from The Lord Mayor of Leeds together with this year’s Leeds Children’s Mayor Samuel Hill from Carr Manor Community School whose winning manifesto is based around the theme ‘Be yourself, love yourself and respect all others.’

Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Eileen Taylor said: “It’s been an incredibly tough year for the people of Leeds and we all know celebrations during the festive season are going to be very different this year.

“But this event encapsulates the spirit and determination that Leeds has to both celebrate the Christmas season and keep our city and each other safe.

“It’s fantastic to see so many talented artists and performers contributing and to know that people across Leeds will be coming together online this weekend to help get the countdown to Christmas officially underway.”

Previous years have seen crowds gather on Victoria Gardens for the annual lights switch-on but current social distancing requirements and restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have meant that the council’s events team have had to come up with creative ways to ensure thousands of people can still come together and celebrate the season safely.

The Leeds Lights Virtual Switch-on event will be free to watch on the Millennium Square YouTube channel and Facebook page on Wednesday, December 2 from 6.30pm, with the actual city centre lighting displays, including brand new lighting spans designed and installed by Leeds BID on Briggate, switched on simultaneously with the online event. Local residents still have the opportunity to submit pictures and videos of their own lights and Christmas trees so they can feature in the special montage and pay tribute to the city’s Christmas spirit. To submit your pic or video message please send by email to: lightupleeds@sonderstudios.co.uk. The closing date is Sunday, November 29

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