MORE than 1,000 people cheered as Huddersfield town centre was illuminated with colour to start the countdown to Christmas.
Pop Idol winner Michelle McManus, TV news presenter Harry Gration and little Ryan Baker from Slaithwaite flicked the switch to light the town.
Michelle sang three songs, including new single Just For You, to the excited crowd.
She said: “It is so lovely to come to places like Huddersfield and see everyone getting into the Christmas spirit.
“Its such a lovely time of the year and events like this really bring everyone together.
“Everyone has been so friendly and were singing along to my songs, which was great.”
Five-year-old Ryan won a competition to help Harry Gration switch the lights on after his mum entered a Pulse Radio competition.
Ryan, a pupil at Nields Primary School in Slaithwaite, said: “It was exciting and fun too when I turned on the Christmas lights.”
And proud mum Carol-Anne said: “I just entered him in the competition, but never thought he’d win.
“He has been really excited about doing it.”
Slaithwaite Brass Band started the show by playing Christmas classics.
Soloist Joe Dunwell played an acoustic set after winning a competition on Pulse Radio while Huddersfield Giants players Rod Jenson, Kevin Brown and Darrell Griffin talked to the packed Piazza crowd about their training and season.
Newsreader Harry started the countdown from 100 to one and pushed the button as thousands of people cheered when the town was illuminated.
Harry said: “It’s fantastic to come out to places like this and see so many people come together.
“I enjoy events like this because it is such a good thing for the community and everyone really has fun.
“Huddersfield has a strong community and I am glad to be here to start Christmas for them.”
Father Christmas made a special visit, thanks to Huddersfield Pendragon Round Table, with children lining up to give him their Christmas lists.
Kirklees Mayor Clr Jean Calvert wished everyone a Happy Christmas and said: “The town is looking brilliant. I hope everyone has a wonderful time.”
Highburton mum Sandra Turner enjoyed the entertainment with children Joe, seven, and Rosie, three.
She said: “It’s not often big events happen in Huddersfield but we have really enjoyed today.
“It’s just a shame it was so cold.”