Food & Drink

Everything you need to know about Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2023 – chef demos, tickets and line-up

Star chefs appearing this year include James Martin, chef and DJ Gok Wan, Michael Caines and Great British Menu judge Nisha Katona MBE

Georgina Pellant Georgina Pellant - 3rd August 2023

The Bolton Food and Drink Festival returns this August bank holiday as the internationally acclaimed event celebrates 18 years in the town.

The award-winning festival is the biggest of its kind in the North West, bringing together celebrity and regional chefs, cooking demos, live music, street entertainment, special events and over 200 market traders.

Running across the long weekend, festivities will kick off on Friday 25 August and run through until Monday 28 August with special events including Bottomless Brunch, comedy dining experiences and a one-time DJ set from TV personality Gok Wan.

Hosted across the town centre, foodies can roam freely as they explore two dedicated music stages, bars, food stalls and plenty more at the free-to-attend festival – from unique gifts to local artwork.

Here’s everything you can expect if you’re heading down over the August bank holiday.


Food and drink

Image: The Manc Eats
Image: What’s Your Beef

Be the first to try out some scrumptious cuisine from around the world, with over 200 food traders across the town centre on the bank holiday serving everything from burgers and homemade Scotch eggs to Turkish shawarma, donuts, and smokey barbecued meats.

Discover markets, brilliant local food and drink, plus special ticketed events such as Bottomless Brunch, and theatrical dinners like the Fawlty Towers and Live and Let Live Dining Experiences.


This year’s festival will also host lavish bottomless brunches across the weekend in celebration of its eighteenth year in the wonderful Albert Halls complex, featuring a delicious brunch and a wide range of drinks and boozy cocktails.

As for further street food traders to check out, keep your eyes peeled for dedicated roly poly traders Roly Poly Ltd, mezze from Greek Street Food, and Bolton favourite Istanbul’s Kitchen.

Chef demos

Image: Supplied
Image: Supplied

Kicking the weekend off with a bang is festival ambassador Michael Caines, who held two Michelin stars for 18 consecutive years. Fresh from Lympstone Manor, the much-loved celebrity chef ambassador launches the flagship festival on Friday morning. You’ll be able to catch him in a free cookery demo too.


Starting the show on Saturday is a festival newbie and much-loved chef, stylist, DJ, author and presenter Gok Wan, taking a spin in the kitchen and showcasing some of his delicious Chinese cooking.

Sunday will welcome another new face to the festival when business owner, charity founder, author, food presenter and TV cook, Nisha Katona MBE joins Team Bolton for the first time, leading the way for a spectacular Sunday spread.

Mowgli Street Food’s Nisha will be showcasing her love of Indian cooking in a range of cookery demos bringing new simple recipes to Bolton and sharing her infectious passion for all things food.

As usual, Monday is headlined by festival icon James Martin, whose ever-popular cookery demos bring with them a love of cuisines from around the world and a lesson on how to recreate some tasty dishes.

MasterChef 2023 winner Chariya Khattiyot will also join as part of the festival’s regional chef demos, as will Gok Wan’s brother, Kwoklyn Wan, who is a chef on Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch and Amazon Prime series Man With A Wok.



Image: Supplied
Image: Supplied

More than 70 performers will descend on the two live stages, with a variety of music and entertainment from around the world, all completely free for festival visitors. 

From Irish dancers, choirs, soul, funk, jazz, folk, Latin American, indie, rock, dance and pop, there is something for everybody to enjoy while you soak up the festival atmosphere.

Music lovers can revel in the delights of national artists as well as local performers including Tommy Govan, Mike Roberts, Danny Quin, Conor Peploe, Will Edgar, Holly Jenkinson and John Doyle.

With performers from nine to 80 years old, the festival welcomes all ages at the Festival Main Stage on Le Mans Crescent and the Acoustic Stage on Victoria Square.

Headlining on Friday and making their full band debut at the festival, will be Bolton’s own, The Shed Project plus special guests.


The band, influenced by the Madchester sound of The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, are joined by Marseille, The Jace Campbell Band and The Marbellas.

The fun continues on Saturday as highlights include loop-based, live music dance trio, Scratch Trio, performing popular classic dance anthems.

In addition, alongside the UK’s premier 1980s Electronica/New Wave tribute band, Electromantics are 5-piece band, Baiana Band, playing Brazilian jazz, pop, funk and soul.

Sunday is equally as entertaining with Stax of Soul, a nine-piece soul band born and bred in Greater Manchester, headlining as part of their 40th-anniversary tour.

If you missed the recent tour, then this one’s for you – joining them is Bolton-born Lou Nichols delivering a rocking set of Pink’s greatest hits.


Entertaining Latin music lovers is Guacamaya Latin Band, with the best South American rhythms and most popular songs in Europe.

Last but not least and joining the lineup on Bank Holiday Monday is Bhangra Smash Up, a 3-piece, high-energy drumming band playing popular chart and dance music.

Closing the festivities are five-piece party band, The Shivers, covering your favourite party songs and guilty pleasures. The perfect way to celebrate the festival turning 18!

The live music stages are free to enter and no tickets are required.  But you can quench your thirst at one of the bars while you sing along to your favourite tunes.

As if this wasn’t enough, there’s The Afterparty with Gok Wan & Co to tuck into in the Albert Halls Theatre on Saturday evening.


A full seven hours of house and dance classics from not only Gok Wan himself but a feast of well-known guest DJs including Phats & Small, Sweet Female Attitude and Rio Fredrika.

Family entertainment

The second day of the annual Bolton Food and Drink Festival attracted hundreds of visitors to the town under beautiful blue skies. Picture by Paul Heyes, Saturday August 28, 2021. / Image: Supplied
Day one of the annual Bolton Food and Drink Festival. Picture by Paul Heyes, Friday August 26, 2022. / Image: Supplied

The family-friend festival encourages parents to bring the kids to try their hand at arts and crafts and join in with fun games, activities and magic tricks, or get their faces painted.

This year, organisers are bringing back the fantastic family zone on Le Mans Crescent, right at the heart of the Festival.

Elsewhere, you’ll find strolling, world-class street performers to keep the party going wherever you are around the town centre, not to mention lots of delicious food and live music.


The main festival is free to attend, however, some special events such as the bottomless brunch, Gok Wan afterparty, Faulty Towers and Live and Let Live Dining Experiences do require tickets.


The majority of the festival’s celebrity chef demos are also ticketed, with standard tickets priced from £15 and concessions available for senior citizens and children under 15.

About Bolton Food and Drink Festival

The North West’s biggest and best food festival, every year Bolton Food and Drink Festival draws thousands of foodies to the Greater Manchester town for a long weekend full of flavours. Last year’s festival welcomed over 450,000 visitors over the four day weekend.

Now in its eighteenth year, it runs every year on August bank holiday weekend across four days. In previous years, the festival has welcomed the likes of Hairy Biker Si King, Ainsley Harriot and festival favourite James Martin.

Featured image – Supplied