The city centre was thronged as people gathered in Barkers Pool to watch Jamie Campbell, whose real-life story was turned into the critically acclaimed movie Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, perform the honours on Sunday evening.
Fireworks exploded from the roof of Sheffield City Hall as Jamie pressed the plunger at 5.30pm, alongside Sheffield’s Lord Mayor, Gail Smith, and Santa.
Jamie took to the stage in a stunning green number adorned with baubles, made by a student from Rotherham College, which was jokingly described as a cross between a sexy Grinch and a Christmas tree.
Asked if he ever imagined how successful the musical, based on the BBC documentary Drag Queen at 16, would be, he said: “When I saw it for the first time at the Crucible Theatre just down there I knew it was something special. The West End transfer happened and now we’ve been to Japan and South Korea... so it’s going worldwide, but it all started in this city just around that corner there….
“Throughout everything I just have to take each moment as it comes, and right now I’m stood here with you gorgeous people in this gorgeous city turning on some Christmas lights. What an honour.”
Spectators joined in a countdown before Jamie pressed the plunger and this year’s illuminations were revealed in all their glory.
The switch-on, which was also beamed to a big screen outside Sheffield Town Hall, was the culmination of a day of entertainment in the city centre.
Families enjoyed fairground rides throughout the day and were treated to performances on the main stage from the likes of Britain’s Got Talent singer Kyle Tomlinson.
Heart’s Dixie and Emma hosted the lights switch-on, which also featured Sheffield panto legend Damian Williams, Hype Dance Academy and the Stagecoach Choir.
Sheffield’s Christmas market was heaving, in stark contrast to last year, when the latest Covid lockdown put a halt to public festivities, and youngsters got to meet stars of Sheffield’s panto Sleeping Beauty and popular children’s characters outside Sheffield Town Hall.