August Bank Holiday weekend saw the Bolton Food and Drink Festival continue its annual growth both in terms of the number of stall-holders and number of visitors. Three hundred thousand people attended over the long weekend to enjoy the food, drinks and a greater variety of entertainment and exhibits than ever before. Exhibitors and traders came from as far afield as Edinburgh and London to take part. For youngsters this year there was the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party as well as a variety of fun activities in the Octagon Theatre, the library and museum and in Crompton Place. A huge stage was built in Le Mans Crescent to showcase some of Bolton’s finest musicians.
As well as nationally-known chefs, a number of regional favourites, including Aidan Byrne, Simon Wood, Andrew Nutter and John Whaite gave demonstrations.
This year’s celebrity chefs included favourites James Martin and Michael Caines MBE, as well as Simon Rimmer, who has attended once previously in 2008, and Bolton Festival newcomer Ainsley Harriott.
Speaking to the press before the first of his cookery demonstrations Ainsley Harriott said “Festivals like this are key to bringing communities together, allowing people in those communities to express themselves. Bolton is now one of the biggest food festivals in the UK.“
Simon Rimmer, who is from Manchester, said “What Bolton has done particularly well is to keep its Food & Drink Festival relevant to Bolton. Others don’t do that.“
Michael Caines has been coming to the Bolton Festival for seven years and this year he hosted a sumptuous gala dinner on the first evening of the festival.
James Martin, now back on our television screens at weekends with ITV’s Saturday Morning with James Martin, was here for his 9th year and said that he believes the Bolton Food and Drink Festval is now the biggest festival of its kind in the country.