The full programme for the first ever virtual Bolton Food and Drink Festival has been served up.

Online highlights include a cook-along with acclaimed chef Simon Wood, a special performance from folk band Lancashire Hotpots, wild food foraging with popular chef Andrew Nutter, daily storytelling with Bolton Libraries, and a market place with special offers.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, council chiefs took the decision to change the popular, award-winning festival (August 28 to 31) to a virtual format this year.

The event is organised by Bolton Council, and sponsored by Warburtons; Bolton at Home; Bolton School; Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and Stateside Foods.

The four-day extravaganza welcomed 400,000 people last year and was hailed by celebrity chef James Martin as the “biggest and best festival in the country”.

Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: “Our beloved Food and Drink festival can’t happen in the usual manner due to the ongoing pandemic but I am really delighted that the team have come up with a some innovative solutions to create a virtual version for us all to enjoy.

“Please take the time to enjoy all that is on offer – and join in over the weekend by sharing your stories on the festival’s social media channels.

“A big focus this year is supporting our local businesses and creative industries. There are so many brilliant businesses backing the festival, and once again I must say a massive thank you to our sponsors and partners for ensuring we can put on this event.”

Catch all the action on www.boltonfoodanddrinkfestival.com, follow @BoltonFoodandDrinkFestival on Facebook or @boltonfoodfest on Twitter or Instagram for the latest updates, post using #boltonfoodfest #boltonvirtually.

Programme highlights

Chefs and special events
Twelve chef demonstrations from some of the region’s finest chefs are on the menu. Highlights includes the Big Saturday Night In at 7pm – a two-course cook-a-long with TV favourite Masterchef winner Simon Wood, with step by step guidance on how to recreate the dishes. Get expert tips from Jackie Heaton aka The Baking Nanna (@thebakingnanna1), and local chefs Kishnan Kant, Mike Harrison, and Scott Bannon. Join in a cocktail masterclass with Jonny Cocktail on Saturday at 7pm.

Music
Comedy folk band Lancashire Hotpots took to the main stage at the 2019 festival and wowed the crowds. They have put together a special production for everyone to enjoy on Sunday at 6pm. Music lovers can enjoy some of Bolton’s finest bands and musicians – 17 bands and solo artists will be performing over the four days, including a showcase from RockIt (10am on Saturday); Jade Assembly (6pm on Saturday); Luke McColl (Noon on Sunday), and Tommy Govan (3pm on Monday).

Online market place
Showcasing some of the festival’s regular traders, have a browse and take advantage of special discounts. Watch out for offers from Bolton Beer; Riverfood Organic; Springmount Gin; Olde Elephant Fudge; Jo’s Beaded Designs, and Chef to Go. The market place will stay live until the end of the year. Instanbul’s Kitchen in Bolton Market will also be making special dishes for the festival.

Family fun
Tune in at 10.30am every day of the festival for storytelling with Bolton Libraries. The stories, read by Shasha, will be sure to appeal to young children. Shasha will be reading Annie the Apple Pie Fairy (Friday); Fussy Freda (Saturday); Chimpanzees for Tea (Sunday), and Steve Terror of the Seas (Monday).

Foraging and gin
On Saturday at 5pm take a trip to the Bolton countryside with Wild Food Forager, Colin Unsworth as he is joined by brilliant chef Andrew Nutter, and watch the creation of the first ever festival gin in collaboration with award winning distillery, Defiance Distillery.

Grow documentary and meeting Bolton’s bakers
The world premiere of Bolton at Home’s ‘Grow’ documentary, on Sunday at 4pm, stars people in the borough who grow their own plants, flowers and vegetables at community projects and allotments. Also, on Sunday at 1.30pm, Michelin starred chef, Jean Christophe Novelli goes on a behind the scenes tour of much-loved local bakers Greenhalgh’s and meets Carrs Pasties.

Visit www.boltonfoodanddrinkfestival.com for the full programme.

Festival sponsors: Warburtons; Bolton at Home; Bolton School; Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and Stateside Foods.

Festival partners: Bolton Market; Bolton Library and Museum Services; Carrs Pasties, Costco; Greenhalgh’s; Kaykes; Second City Coffee, and Wagamama.

Ends