More than 200,000 people visited Bolton Food and Drink Festival – making it the biggest festival on record.
Figures collected by Transport for Greater Manchester of behalf of Bolton Council show that there were 201,911 visitors over the four days (Aug 28 to 31), a 32 per cent increase compared to 153,277 the previous year.
Footfall has increased year on year for the annual festival, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.
And visitors came from a far afield as Australia, Cyprus and France as well as from all corners of the UK.
Diane and Alan Briggs travelled from Cyprus to visit Alan’s father but deliberately timed their visit to coincide with the festival.
“We were in Bolton last year, stumbled across it and absolutely loved it,” said Diane. “We love cooking and made sure we came back when it’s on.”
Kirsty Carr and Justine Smith, from Newcastle, came to see all of the celebrity chef demos. “We come over every year for the festival, all the way from Newcastle. We come back because it’s great and we love seeing all the different chefs. It’s the best festival we’ve ever been to,” said Kirsty.
Festival-goers sampled culinary delights from a record 180 stalls; watched celebrities including Lisa Faulkner, John Torode and James Martin in a series of cookery demonstrations in Victoria Square; enjoyed live shows from CBeebies star Katy Ashworth and pop-up theatre from the Octagon Theate; listened to free live music, and were entertained by various street artists.
One of the star attractions was Kimmy - a 5ft 7in, 250kg elephant cake - made especially for the festival’s 10th birthday by expert baker Rose Dummer. The cake was distributed to festival goers with a section going to Urban Outreach.
Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Cliff Morris, said: “It’s been another fantastic weekend and from such small beginnings the event has grown massively to become the premier food festival in the north.
“The weather held out which does help with visitors but even yesterday with the rain in the morning the crowds were still out. To hear that people living abroad are timing their holiday to come to the festival just shows what a fabulous event it is.
“We’ve had fantastic feedback from festival visitors, traders, chefs and our sponsors and partners. The support of a sponsor like Aldi has definitely contributed to increased visitors. I’d like to thank everyone for making this the biggest and best festival yet.”
Bolton Food and Drink Festival is organised by the council in association with Aldi, which is opening a state of the art distribution centre in the town later this year. Aldi were recruiting for their regional head office and distribution centre at the event.
Virgil Simpson, Aldi Logistics Director added: “We were all amazed by the turnout at the festival throughout the Bank Holiday, and the traders we spoke to had a very successful weekend.
“Aldi has been recruiting for its new distribution centre during the event, and we received a huge amount of interest from job seekers so we’re confident that we’re going be able to fill in excess of 150 positions with people from in and around Bolton.”
Visitors to the festival are being asked to fill in a survey, with the chance to win a hamper of goodies. The survey is online at http://www.boltonfoodanddrinkfestival.com/feedback.
Sponsors are Aldi, Greenhalgh’s, Ikea, Market Place Shopping Centre and Stateside Foods. Partners are Agilisys, Bolton Market, Impression Ltd, Kro Bar, Marriott, Octagon Theatre, and Slattery.