More than 150,000 people visited Bolton Food and Drink Festival – making it the biggest festival on record.
Figures collated by Bolton Council show that there were 153,227 visitors over the four days (Aug 22 to 25), an 18 per cent increase compared to 130,000 the previous year.
Footfall has increased year on year for the annual festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2015.
And visitors came from a far afield as Australia, Bahamas, British Columbia, New Zealand, the Bahrain as well as from all corners of the UK.
Jean McMillan, age 82 from British Columbia, had only arrived in the country on Saturday (August 24). When her daughter Sandra Hopkins, from Leigh, suggested going to the festival on Sunday (Aug 25) she was more than happy to pay a visit and thought the food was “amazing”.
Susan Singleton, age 37, woke up at 4am and travelled from Glasgow to watch Gino D’Acampo. She said: “I’ve watched Gino before and he’s always funny. Me and my friends come every year, the first time was about four years ago. The festival’s great, it’s definitely getting bigger. There’s a lot more things to do and it’s massive now. The music tents are excellent.”
Festival-goers sampled culinary delights from a record 130 stalls and watched celebrity chefs including John Torode and James Martin in a series of cookery demonstrations in Victoria Square; listened to free live music, and enjoyed entertainment from various street artists.
Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Cliff Morris, said: “The festival has once again been a massive success. We’ve had some fantastic feedback from festival goers and we’ve pulled international visitors in as well as from all over the UK. When you get celebrity chefs like James Martin saying he doesn’t really know another festival like this, which has grown in this way, then you know you’re doing something right.
“One thing we know for sure that has worked really well this year which has helped increased visitors is the new family element to the festival. Katy Ashworth from CBeebies has gone down a real treat with young food fans.”
Visitors also enjoyed free cookery demonstrations from the likes of former Corrie star Sean Wilson at Bolton Market on Ashburner St, and Manchester House’s Aiden Byrne and Channel 4 The Taste Winner Debbie Halls-Evans at the Market Place Shopping Centre marquee, which also boosted trade.
Market Place Shopping Centre enjoyed a 10.6 per cent rise in footfall compared to 2013. The centre had 66,671 customers over the four days compared to 60,275 in 2013.
Nikki Wilson-Cook, Centre Manager, said: “To achieve a double digit increase in footfall against last year is an excellent result and we can certainly testify that this was the biggest and best festival yet for our retailers. With the redevelopment of Market Place Shopping Centre already underway to create restaurants and bars in our Vaults, plus the addition of the nine-screen cinema, we are looking forward to attracting even more people during the festival next year.”
Bolton Food and Drink Festival is organised by Bolton Council and sponsored by Bluemantle, Market Place Shopping Centre, Stateside Foods and University of Bolton.
Partners include Agilysis, Bolton Market, Crompton Place Shopping Centre, Greenhalgh’s, ISG, Kro Bar, Marriott, and The Octagon Theatre.
For more information visit www.boltonfoodanddrinkfestival.com, www.facebook.com/BoltonFoodandDrinkFestival, and search #boltonfoodfest on Twitter or follow @boltonfoodfest.