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Foodie fans flock to biggest festival yet

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James Martin outside Bolton town hall

Bolton welcomed around 270,000 people for the town’s biggest ever Food and Drink Festival.

Figures collected by Transport for Greater Manchester at key locations around the town centre show that there were 270,278 visitors over the four days.

The festival celebrated its 13th anniversary this year, and is organised by Bolton Council in association with Aldi UK.

Last year the event welcomed 267,000 and while the rain did deter some from visiting the outdoor stalls, more people watched the free celebrity chef demos and enjoyed the interactive kitchen in Crompton Place and the free Egyptian activities in the Market Place Shopping Centre.

Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Linda Thomas, thanked everyone involved in the festival for contributing to its success. She said: “I know every year we wonder how we can make the event better and more special but we did – and even with the rain the figures just show how much the public love it.

“We had visitors from all over the country and further afield such as Germany and France, some who come every year for the festival. It is great news that we have topped last year’s visitor numbers – it shows what a brilliant attraction we now have annually.

“We’ve had some fantastic feedback from visitors, traders, chefs and our sponsors and partners. It is without doubt – as James Martin himself said – the biggest and best food festival in the country and I would like to thank everyone for making this the best one to date.”

James Martin made his 10th appearance at the festival for three live demos at the event in the heart of the town centre, and also walked around the festival site. He said: “It is the best food festival in the UK, and it is a privilege to have seen it grow into the event it is now.”

Nikki Wilson-Cook, Market Place Centre Manager, added: “This is a really important event for the town and the centre and we are very proud to have been a part of it. Every year we aim to push the boundaries and put on activity that complements what is happening in the town, and this year we believe we achieved exactly that.

“The Egyptian theme was totally unique and really wowed our customers. A special thanks to everyone involved, particularly Bolton Museum and Bolton Council, who really helped us to bring a lot of our Egyptian ideas to life.”

Visitors came from across the UK and Europe to sample food and drink from more than 200 traders and watch celebrity chefs including James Martin, Nadiya Hussain, Ainsley Harriott, Michael Caines, Andrew Nutter and Simon Wood in action.

Angie Reeh, the Chair of the Anglo-German Club in Paderborn, said: “I love it. It was a really great festival with very good food. People are really friendly and I’ve never seen such a happy atmosphere in a town. We’re so glad we made it and we will definitely return.”

Jackie Heaton, aka The Baking Nanna, from Higher Irlam in Manchester, said: “It is the first time we have been to the festival and it won’t be the last. What a fabulous festival, Bolton should be proud – so much fun for all the family.”

David Howells from the Cumbrian Pie Company said along with the Manchester Christmas Markets, the festival is the “best and most profitable event we do all year”.

Virgil Simpson, Logistics Director at Aldi UK, added: “It was fantastic to see the Bolton community again for drinks and nibbles at our fourth year of sponsoring the event. Our gins and real ale tastings, along with our Exquisite range of wines went down a treat with festival-goers.”