Gareth Gates is coming home!

Bradford's Pop Idol is returning to the city next weekend for a special free concert in the city centre.

More than 15,000 people are expected to take to the streets to welcome Gareth home on Sunday, August 4

The star will be given a civic reception at City Hall - a formal homecoming thanking him for raising Bradford's profile - and afterwards he will be led into Centenary Square by Lord Mayor Councillor Richard Wightman to sing for his home crowd.

Bradford is bracing itself for Gareth mania, with the homecoming celebrations for Bradford's favourite 18-year-old expected to bring the streets to a standstill and noise levels soaring.

Gareth will perform several numbers, including his number one singles, Unchained Melody and Any One Of Us (Stupid Mistake), and a duet dedicated to Bradford with his sister Nicola Gates.

"Coming home to Bradford is always special as this is where my friends and family are," said Gareth.

"When travelling I'm proud to say I'm from Bradford and it means a lot to me that I can help raise the profile of my home town.

"The Capital of Culture campaign is such a positive way of putting Bradford on the map and encouraging younger people to get involved and feel proud of where they're from. The support I've had locally means the world to me."

Gareth's performance will be broadcast on giant screens in the square. Roads into the city centre will be closed and at least 150 security staff are being drafted in to cope with the crowds.

The event has been organised by Bradford Council and the Capital of Culture team to acknowledge Gareth's success and promote the 2008 bid to young people. The concert is free of charge and will start at 4pm.

Deputy Council leader Simon Cooke said: "This is about celebrating our best and saying thank you for what he has done for Bradford at such an important time. It's also chance for Bradford people to see their hero, free of charge, back in his home town.

"Gareth has given the Capital of Culture bid tremendous support and this is a fantastic way of getting younger people involved. It shows that culture isn't boring - it includes pop culture, too."

Special limited edition Gareth Gates Homecoming T-shirts, bearing the Bradford 2008 logo, will be sold this week for fans to wear.

There will also be entertainment from other acts. The line-up, yet to be finalised, is expected to include stars of this year's Alhambra pantomime.

Gareth's civic reception will be attended by city leaders, including the Lord Mayor and Council leader Margaret Eaton, members of the Capital of Culture team and representatives of organisations sponsoring the event. Members of Gareth's family are also expected to attend.

A Council spokesman said: "Civic Receptions are given by the Lord Mayor on behalf of the people of the city to recognise outstanding achievement by individuals or groups in various fields.

"The visit starts in the Lord Mayor's rooms in City Hall, with the signing of the Lord Mayor's visitor's book. The Mayor then greets the visitor and gives a speech of welcome and thanks, followed by a response.

"The Mayor may give a tour of City Hall.

"Past receptions have been given to a very wide range of Bradfordians, including Olympic cyclist Yvonne McGregor and the Bradford Bulls for winning the Tetley Super League."

Sunday's event marks the start of a summer of fun in Centenary Square.

It will be transformed into a "Bradford by the Sea" when it is filled with sand and beach accessories during the week leading to August Bank Holiday weekend.