An estimated 75,000 people flocked to Bolton to enjoy the fifth annual Food and Drink Festival.
This year's footfall meant 25,000 more visitors joined in the festival than in 2009.
The four-day August Bank Holiday foodie spectacular saw a series of live cooking demos from top celebrity chefs Gino D’Acampo, James Martin and The Hairy Bikers.
The festival, organised by Bolton Council and sponsored by Warburtons, Bluemantle and Love Food Hate Waste, saw people from across the country flocking to Bolton.
Annmarie Streener travelled all the way from Northumberland for the festival. She said: “I had a great time at the Bolton Food Festival. I was able to buy local produce from many of the local suppliers and the cheese and jams were particularly delicious. We had a 'fantastico' time watching Gino at the demonstration and it was definitely worth the 400 mile round trip that we had to make from Northumberland.”
Council chiefs are now looking to make next year’s event even bigger and better.
Councillor Cliff Morris, Leader of Bolton Council, said: "It’s the biggest festival we've ever had in Bolton and the number of visitors shows it has been a major success. The feedback we've had from all the traders, the public and town centre retailers has been fantastic.
“All the celebrity chefs have gone down a storm and they've all said how much they've loved coming to Bolton. We are determined to make the festival one of the key foodie events in the country and continue to build on its success for years to come.”
As well as the celebrity chefs, a speciality market featuring the North West’s finest produce and food from around the world took over Victoria Square, and events for foodies were held in venues around the town.
Melanie Good, from the company Cheese, Cheese, Cheese said: “It’s my first festival here and it’s gone really well. The people have been really interested and there’s been a great atmosphere and I’ve sold lots of produce.”
Thomasina Miers launched the festival on the Friday and the Hairy Bikers were the main attraction on the second day. The TV culinary duo - Simon King and Dave Myers – showed a packed audience how to cook scallops and black pudding in a champagne sauce; smashed up chicken pasta; and fillet steak with salmon fish cakes and duck breast with roasted plums, potato pancakes and caramelised apples.
They said: “We had a wonderful time at the festival and were delighted to be invited back this year. There's loads going on and the festival provides a great opportunity to showcase a wide range of local produce.”
Italian chef Gino D’Acampo entertained the crowds with his demos on the third day of the event, where he cooked up number of dishes including pork in marsala wine, tagliatelle with capers and tiramisu.
He said: “Festivals like this are probably the only chance I get to meet the public. The people in Bolton are brilliant and very friendly.”
The final day of the food festival saw James Martin demonstrating his culinary skills. Yorkshire man James cooked up a menu of dishes throughout the day including basil and summer fruit pudding, fillet pork with pumpkin pickle, deep fried cod in crispy batter, sorrel salmon, Thai green curry, cheat’s gateau and vanilla and custard soufflé.
James said: “I love this place, and coming to Bolton almost feels like coming home. The festival has got bigger and better with the council’s backing. I love the interaction with people at festivals and it’s vital that people support events like this. They teach people about ingredients that they may never have seen before and hopefully the demos inspire them to cook.”
Crowds also picked up tips from top local chefs including BBC Fusion chef Aazam Ahmad, Bolton’s very own spice girl Anjali Pathak and Eddie Shephard, head chef at acclaimed vegetarian restaurant Greens in Didsbury.
Even though the festival is over, there are still great special offers at more than 40 venues across Bolton featured on the festival website.
The offers include two for one deals, special dishes based on the celebrity chefs who performed at the festival and lots of discounts at a variety of well known restaurants. Most of the offers are available throughout September.