The countdown to the biggest event in Bolton’s culinary calendar has begun.

Set-up has finished for the north west’s largest food festival (August 25 to 28), which is organised by Bolton Council in association with Aldi. With just two days to the launch of Bolton’s 12th Food and Drink Festival, work is well under way to transform the town centre ready for an invasion of celebrity chefs, amazing cuisine, live music and fun for all the family.

Celebrity chefs

A huge marquee has taken shape in Victoria Square. Over the four days of food and fun, celebrity chefs James Martin, Ainsley Harriott and Simon Rimmer will entertain thousands of visitors.

Michael Caines will host a sumptuous gala dinner in the grand marquee on Friday night, the first day of the festival, and Aiden Byrne will be hosting Manchester House’s first dedicated pop-up restaurant – Made in Bolton – on Saturday night.

The public are also invited to free cookery shows in Bolton Market’s Lifestyle Hall on Ashburner Street and in the Regional Chefs’ Marquee on Corporation Street. Headliners include: Aiden Byrne of Manchester House, Masterchef winner Simon Wood, celebrity chef Andrew Nutter and John Whaite.

Food and bars

Set up of the speciality markets has now finished. More than 200 food, drink and craft traders will take over the town centre, with a feast of goodies on offer, to cater for every taste. The markets, opening from 10am to 7pm, will be located in and around Victoria Square.

In Le Mans Crescent, a huge stage is being built to showcase some of Bolton’s finest bands and musicians.  Music lovers can also enjoy a drink from the Festival Bar. The Real Ale and Cider Bar on Victoria Square will also host a music stage, and headline sponsor Aldi will also be taking centre stage on Victoria Square with a Top Tipples wine bar, which will offer a range of prosecco, wine and cocktails for festival goers.

Family fun

For the youngsters this year, a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party will be held daily in the Alice in Wonderland Marquee, Howell Croft North.

Festival partners the Octagon Theatre will also turn into Platform 50, a fun-filled railway station from the golden age of travel. Free to enter, there will be a train, lots of railway-themed stories, and activities for all the family including face-painting and interactive songs.

Bolton Library and Museum Services have also got a weekend of craft and arts fun for younger children too. From having the chance to delve into Bolton’s Egypt at the Octagon Theatre, to sharing lunch with Peter Rabbit, each activity will be family friendly and free of charge. Free activities will be held at Crompton Place too.

Special events

Special events on the menu include: on Saturday at 10.30am, Simon Rimmer will host a brunch and at 2.30pm, he will host a special pasty and beer tasting with pasties supplied by festival partner Carrs pasties, who have unveiled a number of new flavours for the festival, including vindaloo.

On Sunday, there will be a Slattery family Afternoon Tea with a live demo from Ainsley Harriott and later in the day, Ainsley will host a wine tasting session with wine critic Simon Woods.

Bolton Council Leader, Cllr Cliff Morris, said: “After all the planning and anticipation it is fantastic to see the festival taking shape as stalls, marquees and stages begin to appear  in the town centre.

“This will be the culmination of months of hard work and it is exciting to know that the festival is so close now.

“We hope that as many people as possible, of all ages, come and join us in the town centre to watch some amazing cookery demonstrations by talented chefs, listen to great music, try and buy different foods, try some of the children’s activities and just have fun. It will be a brilliant weekend.”

Parking and information

Free parking is available in Octagon, Deane Road, and Topp Way NCP multi-storeys on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Limited tickets are available for the celebrity chefs, special events and Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Tickets can be purchased online or on the day from The Octagon Theatre. For updates visit, follow Bolton Food and Drink Festival page on Facebook, @boltonfoodfest on Twitter or @boltonfoodfest on Instagram.