CROWDS turned out in force for the switching on of Keighley's Christmas lights.

Adults and children packed into the car park area at Church Green for yesterday's extravaganza.

The switch-on ceremony was headed up by singer and actor Gareth Gates.

He was joined on stage by youngsters, Santa and Keighley's town mayor Councillor John Kirby.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Youngsters singing at the eventYoungsters singing at the event

Prior to the ceremony, Gareth performed a number of songs – including Wham! festive classic Last Christmas and Unchained Melody, which gave him his first hit when he competed in the inaugural series of TV talent show Pop Idol.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Switching the lights onSwitching the lights on

Although he lost out in the final of the programme to Will Young, which he jokingly made reference to on stage, Bradford-born Gareth shot to stardom and he has gone on to sell millions of records and enjoy an acting career.

Gareth, who was also joined by his sister Nicola for a joint performance, told the crowds it was great to be back in Yorkshire.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Young singers performYoung singers perform

Before his appearance, there were performances from Marigold Addams – with a medley of festive tunes – and entertainment from BOLT Academy choir and Magic Matt, plus the opportunity for members of the public to showcase their talents.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Crowds at the eventCrowds at the event

A host of other attractions and activities was staged as part of the celebration.

Low Street was transformed into a festive market, with a wide range of stalls selling items from handcrafted gifts to food, and there was a display featuring birds of prey.

And there were children's funfair rides.

Keighley Shared Church opened its doors to visitors, offering craft activities for youngsters and the chance for people to enjoy refreshments.

The day culminated with a fireworks display.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Town mayor Councillor John Kirby speaksTown mayor Councillor John Kirby speaks

Councillor Kirby says: "I want to thank everyone who came along and supported the Christmas lights switch-on event – it was brilliant to see so many people around town enjoying themselves.

"Our aim is to make the Christmas lights display and event bigger and better each year.

"I want to thank our partners at the Airedale Shopping Centre for their support in pulling together this year's event.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The event culminated with a fireworks displayThe event culminated with a fireworks display

"Planning has already started for 2024 and I know we will make it a fantastic day for all the family."

Yesterday also marked the launch of a free Santa's grotto in the Airedale Shopping Centre.

The grotto, next to the Trespass store, will be there until Christmas Eve.

For details of dates and opening times, go to

 (All photos by Bob Smith Photography)