AN ESTIMATED crowd of 30,000 got into the early Christmas spirit for activities in the city centre crowned by the switch-on ceremony for the festive lights.
Former Spice Girl turned solo chart-topper Melanie C did the honours with a little help from nine-year-old Marlcliffe Primary pupil Oliver Caley, of Middlewood Road, Hillsborough, who won a competition to help press the plunger after his family told how he had given up his Sundays to sell British Legion poppies.
The ceremony on Sunday was a dual event.
Mel C performed on the Real Radio stage in Barkers Pool following an afternoon of entertainment that included appearances by ex-Neighbours star Sam Clark, Shiloh Gospel Choir, Sheffield University Gospel Choir, Liam Blake, Hype Dance Group, Girls Next Door, Juice, Paul Thomas and Eli Prime.
On the Town Hall balcony, Santa, stars from the Lyceum’s pantomime Sleeping Beauty and Lord Mayor Sylvia Dunkley pressed another button.
Roads in the city centre were closed to traffic to make way for fairground rides and food stalls.
Members of St Mary’s in Bramall Lane staged a nativity scene on The Moor.
Late-night shopping began last night (Wednesday) and there will be a craft and Christmas market, Santa’s Grotto and German-themed bar in Fargate from December 3.
There will be no ice rink in the Peace Gardens this year.
The Botanical Gardens will be illuminated for A Magical Christmas from December 9 to 11.