Leeds Rhinos get Christmas officially started during spectacular switch-on celebrations in city

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The Leeds Rhinos pushed the big red button to officially get Christmas under way in the city during a festive spectacular tonight.

Departing club legends Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow had the honour of switching on the lights in front of a crowd of thousands at Victoria Gardens.

Fresh from October’s Super League Grand Final win, players and coaching staff were joined on stage by club mascot Ronnie the Rhino and their Super League trophy.

WATCH: Head to the YEP Facebook page to see our Facebook Live broadcast from the switch-on
Rob, who enjoyed a glittering 16-year career with the team, said: “It was a huge honour to take to the stage alongside my teammates, switch on the lights and kick off Christmas in style.

“Throughout my career, the people of Leeds have always been incredible and the reception this evening was fantastic and something I’ll never forget.”

Danny, who has won eight Super League championships and two Challenge Cups with the club, added: “It’s been an incredible evening and an absolute pleasure to come out and see the fans and thank them for the phenomenal support they’ve given myself and the club both this season and through the years.”

Leeds Rhinos were the guests of honour at the Christmas lights switch-on. Pictures: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Leeds Rhinos were the guests of honour at the Christmas lights switch-on. Pictures: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Hosted by Heart Breakfast’s Dixie and Emma, the event featured a performance from Leeds Contemporary Singers, who won the BBC’s inaugural Pitch Battle contest.

They were joined by Britain’s Got Talent sensations Boogie Storm and soul singer Tommy Blaize, who leads Strictly Come Dancing’s band.

Cbeebies presenters Alex Winters and Ben Cadjee hosted a singalong with panto favourite Jez Edwards, who is appearing in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Carriageworks Theatre.

Fellow panto cast member Danny Colligan, a finalist in Gary Barlow’s musical TV show Let it Shine, and Leeds Rock Choir also performed.

Pitch Battle winners Leeds Contemporary Singers perform for the crowds.

Pitch Battle winners Leeds Contemporary Singers perform for the crowds.

The show was closed by an impressive display of fireworks, which illuminated the sky over Leeds Town hall after the switch on.

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake, who was on hand alongside Children’s Mayor Isla Bentley, said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to welcome the Leeds Rhinos to the stage this year and a fitting recognition of their truly remarkable achievements.

“The Rhinos are fabulous ambassador for the city and for sport and the reception they had from the crowd tonight was testament to the special place they have in the hearts of the people of Leeds.

“The crowd tonight was exceptional, as it is each and every year, and it’s always wonderful to get the festive season in Leeds under way in such spectacular style.”

Leeds Rock Choir were among the acts who took to the stage at Victoria Gardens.

Leeds Rock Choir were among the acts who took to the stage at Victoria Gardens.

The celebrations ended with a fantastic fireworks display.

The celebrations ended with a fantastic fireworks display.