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Bolton Food and Drink Festival set to break visitor records

Official figures are still being calculated at Bolton Food and Drink Festival but organisers believe the number of attendees is expected to rise beyond the current all-time-high of 263,000.

The four-day event finished on the bank holiday Monday (28 August), with festival favourite James Martin making his ninth appearance.

Sunday Brunch star Simon Rimmer entertained audiences on Saturday; a highlight for visitors was his pasty and beer demonstration, with Matt Carr and beer sommelier Annabel Smith.

On the Sunday, chef and TV presenter Ainsley Harriott hosted a Slattery afternoon tea with The Apprentice winner Alana Spencer and Bake Off winner John Whaite. Ainsley was also the guest of honour at a wine tasting with expert Simon Woods.

Ainsley said: “It’s my first visit to Bolton and I was amazed by the scale and diversity of the festival. The audiences were fantastic and it was lovely to see people discovering and enjoying such a variety of food.”

Other events included The Octagon Theatre being transformed into a train station. Where hundreds of children enjoyed a special Mad Hatter’s Tea Party marquee, and free activities in Bolton Central Library and Museum and Crompton Place.

The festival is organised by Bolton Council, in association with Aldi. The leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Cliff Morris, said it had been a huge success. “It is hard to imagine, but somehow this festival gets bigger and better, which is amazing. It is a testament to all those who work so hard to organise it that it is such a massive hit with the public. The festival music stage on Le Mans Crescent has been another excellent addition this year, and it has been wonderful to see crowds enjoying the many live performances that we have put on beneath one of our most magnificent landmark.”

Aldi regional managing director Ruth Doyle, commented:“It was fantastic to see suppliers coming together and we were pleased to be able to showcase our award-winning selection of wines and spirits to visitors, who seemed to really enjoy our top tipples.”

As well as celebrity chefs, the weekend saw a host of free demonstrations in Bolton Market and in a marquee from the likes of Andrew Nutter, Manchester House’s Aiden Byrne, and Masterchef winner Simon Wood.

Michael Caines, who launched the festival on Friday, said: “Festivals such as this are very important for the community. It celebrates what’s great about the diversity of the culture that exists within Bolton and the surrounding area. The festival just gets bigger and better.”