Niall Horan

The One Direction heartthrob Niall Horan and the 'Explosions' hitmaker have sparked rumours they've struck up a budding romance after they were spotted canoodling during Kings of Leon's performance at Virgin Media's V Festival in Chelmsford, Essex, on Sunday night.

The blonde beauty - who called time on her relationship with Jeremy Irvine last month - appeared to be giggling away as Niall threw his arms around her, while bodyguards protected the pair from fans attempting to take photos.

The duo reportedly snuck off early during the band's final track - 'Sex is on Fire' - to avoid the masses of fans, before ending the night in the exclusive Mahiki area at the festival for some cocktails, according to the Daily Mirror newspaper.

The 19-year-old heartthrob previously admitted to having a crush on the 26-year-old singer after claiming that he and his bandmates - Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik - struggle to make time for a relationship because of their busy schedule.

He said: "I'll say one thing: Ellie Goulding - wow. She's absolutely amazing looking."

The pair shared a mutual love-in on Twitter two months ago when Niall complimented the 'Lights' hitmaker on her "beautiful voice".

He wrote previously: "Just listening to some @elliegoulding ! What a talent she is! Beautiful voice ! (sic)".

Eventually, Ellie spotted the comment and later replied: "I knew you loved me hahaha. (sic)".

Niall spent much of Saturday at the festival relaxing in the Virgin Media Louder Lounge VIP area where he was spotted scoffing pancakes - although the pop superstar didn't have any cash to pay for his sweet treat and had to borrow some money from a pal.