THE party went with the biggest of bangs as a whopping 20,000 people turned out to witness the skies exploding above Don Valley Bowl at Sheffield’s After Dark, writes Nik Brear.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our video exclusive report.
South Yorkshire’s biggest and best fireworks party kicked off with an explosion of live music from X Factor finalist Jade Ellis, set against the roar of an enormous bonfire.
“Sheffield, it’s such a pleasure to be here,” said the 25-year-old East London singer, who was booted out of the ITV show over a week ago.
“I’ve heard great things about you from my good pal Lucy Spraggan,” she told the enormous crowd, who roared appreciatively at the mention of the Sheffield favourite.
“She was right, you guys are awesome!”
Jade performed some of her most popular tracks from her time on the show, before taking the opportunity to put a few X Factor rumours to rest.
“So does Tulisa really have fag-ash breath?” cheeky Real Radio Breakfast presenter Gayle wanted to know.
“Definitely not,” Jade insisted.
“Does Gary Barlow really have red wine breath?” chimed in co-presenter Dixie.
“No comment!” she laughed.
At 9pm, lucky Star winner Peter Suter joined the trio on the Real Radio stage to help them push the plunger and light up the sky for a stunning 20-minute fireworks display.
“What a night it’s been for me,” said Peter, aged 54, from Rossington, Doncaster.
“I was just reading The Star a few days ago and decided to enter a competition to push the plunger at After Dark. I couldn’t believe it when they told me I’d won and now I’m really here.”
Peter proved he was no shrinking violet by taking to the stage wearing a multicoloured mohawk and insisted on getting the crowd cheering along with him.
“I brought my family along tonight to see me up there and the roar of the crowd when I was on that stage was incredible. Sheffield really did me proud. It’s been an experience I’ll never forget.”
And Peter wasn’t the only one dressing up for the occasion. In addition to gloves and scarves - the usual winter gear - hundreds donned bright wigs, crazy hats and even full fancy dress for the celebrations.
Jack Carroll and girlfriend Kelly Stringer, both of Barnsley, were among the thousands from across South Yorkshire and beyond who braved the cold to soak up the wintery atmosphere of Sheffield’s 16th annual After Dark event.
“We’ve had such a great night,” Jack told The Star.
“We’ve spent a fortune trying to win a giant bear at the funfair and have been filling up at the food stands.
“The best part of the night without a doubt though was the fireworks. They were absolutely awesome.”
Kelly agreed: “We couldn’t tear our eyes away the whole time. We’ll definitely be coming back next year.”
Event organiser Scott Barton said: “Every year, this event just grows in popularity.
“This is the region’s biggest and best firework display and it never fails to attract visitors from all across Yorkshire. It’s such a great evening out for the whole family.”
After Dark, backed by The Star, Real Radio, Sheffield Council, Supertram and Sheffield International Venues, is organised by Yellow Bus Events.