CHRISTMAS is coming and the T&A is illuminating your lockdown life with a behind-the-scenes look at the festive installations in Bradford city centre.

The city’s Christmas lights were quietly switched on last week with little fanfare, due to the current national lockdown the public is enduring.

It's a far cry from 2019 when crowds of people turned up for a big event in The Broadway Bradford shopping centre.

But this year's offering of festive lights - "Sparkling Bradford" - is even more spectacular and the T&A refuses to let Christmas be cancelled.

We are helping bring the illuminations to you, so you can enjoy them safely in your home and get excited for when you can hopefully see them in person.

Ian Ward, general manager at The Broadway Bradford, said: “The pandemic has impacted all areas of life, it’s had devastating effects on communities and unfortunately, shortened The Broadway’s, and the city of Bradford’s, annual build up to the festive period.

"We know how popular the big switch-on event is and to walk round and admire the lights each year, but it would clearly be impossible to stage such an event under the current restrictions.

“We hope they will be lifted in December and people can visit them in person in a safe, socially-distanced way.

“But, until then, if people can’t come and see the Christmas lights, we wanted to take the lights to them so they can experience some festive cheer from the comfort of their own homes.”

T&A reporter, Brad Deas, took a quick-fire tour of this year's Christmas lights trail - which has been organised by The Broadway Shopping Centre, Bradford Business Improvement District (BID) and Bradford Council - and it's fair to say he was blown away.

The two new focal points of the trail of Christmas lights in Bradford are spectacular in their uniqueness and style.

In The Broadway Bradford, a special “wall” has been installed, which bares the NHS logo, to thank these key staff for all the work they have done throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Just a short walk away, in New Market Place, is a brand new LED Christmas tree.

What is most striking about this installation is, the canopy of lights that flow out from a glowing star at the peak of the tree, to the start of the surrounding streets, such as Bank Street, Tyrrel Street, Husterlergate and Queensgate.

Both the tree and canopy, and the NHS "wall" in The Broadway Bradford, cycle through different colours.

The LED tree and canopy can also be changed by organisers to suit different themes.

BID Manager, Jonny Noble, who admits it's a "great shame" people have not been able to view the "fabulous" new lights yet this year, has already used this to his advantage.

He said: "The tree is particularly fun because we can adjust the colours – so last week, for instance, during testing of the feature, we made it claret and amber to mark Bradford City’s 7-0 FA Cup win over Tonbridge Angels."

The new Christmas light features all build upon fresh installations that were first introduced last year – such as the two Christmas trees outside the two main entrances to The Broadway Bradford and the ceiling of lights above Ivegate.

The overall aim is to expand on this year-by-year until the city is a sea of festive light and joy.

Some of the non-festive lights will remain in place way into the Spring and Mr Noble feels these will be crucial for supporting businesses on the dark Winter nights as people are allowed out again.

He said: “Many of the lights now stay up throughout the winter months to help lift the atmosphere through the gloomy evenings and encourage people to spend their leisure time here.

“It will be particularly important once we’re out of the Covid restrictions again to give local businesses a boost. They will need all help from all of us to get back on their feet and recover from the pandemic.”

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, the Council’s healthy people and places portfolio holder, said: “Due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic Christmas is going to have to be very different this year, but Sparkling Bradford once again has loads of fantastic ideas and inspiration.

"Regardless of what restrictions are in place, there will still be things that we can do to brighten up our lives, so whatever your winter wishes there’s a warm welcome at Sparkling Bradford.”