Bradford’s big festive launch weekend has been hailed a “stunning success” after record crowds turned out to enjoy the fun.
An estimated 15,000 people watched the amazing free fireworks extravaganza which was paid for entirely by city centre businesses hoping to attract more people to come and see what Bradford has to offer over the festive season.
Footfall cameras showed the number of visitors was more than 63.5 per cent up on the previous Saturday and The Broadway shopping centre – which hosted the official Christmas Lights Switch-On – counted more than 50,000 shoppers on Saturday alone.
Jonny Noble, manager of Bradford Business Improvement District (BID), which organised the fireworks display, said: “The whole weekend was a stunning success.
“The crowds were amazing and people really seemed to enjoy themselves. We’ve had fantastic feedback – and the numbers speak for themselves!”
The huge uplift in footfall across the city centre was a much-needed boost for retailers as well as hospitality and leisure providers.
“Businesses reported very strong trading from noon on Saturday onwards,” said Mr Noble. “Bradford people have really embraced the whole festive season launch.
“We had more than 10,000 people watching the fireworks last year – the first time we organised them, to help the city centre get back on its feet post-Covid – and word has certainly got around that it’s a great display.
“To attract an increased crowd of around 50 per cent more people is just brilliant!”
The 12-minute display saw rockets firing up to 850ft in the air and was visible across the city skyline.
The display followed a day of fun and entertainment in The Broadway shopping centre in the build-up to the big lights switch-on – including the BID’s special LED Christmas Tree on New Market Place – culminating in a performance by ‘noughties pop stars Liberty X, who had 10 consecutive Top 10 singles.
Ian Ward, general manager at The Broadway, said: “We had an absolutely fantastic day with more than 50,000 people coming through our doors.
“It’s the fifth year we’ve staged the big lights switch-on and every year it gets bigger and better!
“The performers – from Frozen’s Anna and Elsa to Ellie Sax to Liberty X – were all great and helped us build a brilliant atmosphere.
“And our shops and stores were really happy with the improved trading.”
The weekend’s events were brought to a climax by the 2022 Retail, Leisure & Hospitality Awards, which was staged with a glitzy ceremony in The Broadway.
The event is sponsored by The Broadway and Bradford BID, which is a limited company funded by more than 600 levy-paying businesses and organisations to help promote and develop the city centre.
Mr Ward said: “It was a really fitting way to round off the weekend, by celebrating our local heroes in shops, venues and leisure destinations who are working hard to provide the best possible service and experience following the pandemic, at the same time as they are dealing with soaring inflation and the cost of living crisis.
“There were some amazing winners and a real sense of Bradford businesses working together to do the best for their customers and overcome the latest set of challenges.
“Overall, the weekend really kicked off the festive shopping and leisure season with a bang and we’re looking forward to seeing that translate into a bumper Christmas for shops and shoppers alike!”