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Lighting up Christmas year round
Leeds Lights
Proudly displaying the logo, all the lights are made in Leeds

Something very special goes on inside a non-descript factory unit in Seacroft.

It is the base for the design and manufacture of 13 miles of glittering Christmas lights.

Leeds City Council is unusual in making all of the lights that decorate the city centre and surrounding suburbs during the festive period.

A staff of 15 work all year round to light up the city during November and December.

The physical installation starts in September every year. There are around 3000 motifs, or large-scale decorations, to put up high above the city streets as well as 90 trees to be decorated. The city's lights stretch for twice the distance of Blackpool's celebrated illuminations.

The units also supplies internal decorations for council buildings like the Civic and Town Hall.

Harry Rhodes is the manager of the operation and he admits that "Christmas still retains its magic... but it is Christmas 12 months a year here."

Leeds Lights
Festive colours, one of the designs close up

Despite what you might think the work is definitely not seasonal, once the lights have gone dark in January the motifs have to be taken down into storage. The designs are then washed, tested and repaired and every year new creations are designed to make future installations different.

The Leeds Lights display is currently halfway through a five-year plan to change the 'old fashioned' light-bulbs for non-neon light emitting diodes (LEDs). This work will see the city's electricity bill cut drastically and also help to meet the council's carbon footprint target.

Harry does admit the answer to a domestic puzzle, he can't get away from lights. Yes, he does have to put up Christmas decorations in his own house.

Lights switch-on across Leeds

Leeds city centre: Thursday 12 November with Pixie Lott

Pudsey: Friday 20 November outside Pudsey Leisure Centre with Emmerdale star Chris Chittell (Eric Pollard) and Ronnie the Rhino

Yeadon: Wednesday 25 November Coronation Street lass Poppy Jhakra (Mini) from 6pm

Morley: Thursday 26 November with the switch-on taking place outside the Town Hall on Queen Street from 6:00pm. Hollyoaks star Helen Pearson (Frankie Dean)

Rothwell: Friday 27 November Commercial Street in Rothwell will be lit up by Helen Pearson

Farsley: Wednesday 2 December at Andrew Square with special Emmerdale guest Andy Devine (Shadrack Dingle)

Kippax: Thursday 3 December, the final switch-on with Chris Chittell outside the Co-op

In pictures: Lighting Christmas
11 Nov 09 |  People & Places



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