I chose an unlikely spot for a night out in Greater Manchester and will definitely be heading back

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There’s more obvious places to go - but this party had a lot of things going for it.

The first signs of the summer season were spotted in Tameside this weekend as Stalybridge hosted its first Street Fest of the season. 

Launched in 2021, the event brings together local food traders for a big, monthly community party in the town centre, complete with music and entertainers. The festival will take place from April to November 2024, 5-9pm. 

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We might not be seeing long, warm summer nights just yet, but that did not stop the crowds. The weather was mild and sunny, albeit intermittently, and by the time we arrived at around 6pm, the party was in full swing. If you’re thinking about coming along next month, here is what you need to know.

The first Stalybridge Street Fest of the year. The first Stalybridge Street Fest of the year.
The first Stalybridge Street Fest of the year.

There were about a dozen different food stalls in Stalybridge’s Armentieres Square serving up cuisine from all over the world – from Portugal to Jamaica, Thailand to Greek gyros. No street food festival is complete without a decent burger offering either – and there were two at the street fest. All the food stalls seemed to be equally popular, attracting queues of people, with some of the longest queues spotted at the crepe stall and the halloumi fries. There were also a couple of drinks stalls, including a gin cocktail bar, and at least one local bar was selling takeaway pints.

Rows of tables had been set up to supplement the existing benches on either side of the canal lock that runs right through the centre of the square. Some people had even brought their own camp chairs – which is a tip I shall remember for next time. The Street Fest is definitely a family event, and there were  people of all ages at the event, including children and four-legged friends. 

The piri-piri stall at the first Stalybridge Street Fest of the year on 12 April. The piri-piri stall at the first Stalybridge Street Fest of the year on 12 April.
The piri-piri stall at the first Stalybridge Street Fest of the year on 12 April.

A DJ provided the soundtrack for most of the evening, with interludes from the local Stalybridge Old Band. The area is known for its brass bands, which are all gearing up for the upcoming Whit Friday contests on May 24 – another important community event that was also being promoted at one of the stalls. Elsewhere, there were some street performers dressed as octopuses (I think) to keep the little ones entertained. 

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When the tough decision of what to eat arose, we were won over by the smells from one of the burger stalls. The queue moved quickly enough and we were given a buzzer that let us know when our food was ready to collect. We definitely were not disappointed. When you’ve got a pint in hand and the sun is (kind of) shining on one of the first long evenings of the year, there’s nothing better than a well-made burger, with sticky onions and homemade sauces. 

As the sun started to set, we were tempted by the ‘two for £13’ offer advertised at Nonna’s deli and bar on the square. And we ended the night watching the festivities with a limoncello mojito before calling it a night. 

Stalybridge Street Fest, 12 April, 2024.Stalybridge Street Fest, 12 April, 2024.
Stalybridge Street Fest, 12 April, 2024.

Stalybridge may not be an obvious Friday night destination, especially if you’re used to the more established foodie areas in South Manchester, such as Chorlton or Altrincham, however it’s well worth a visit – although as a life-long Tameside resident, I may be a little bit biased. When you consider the declining state of other town centres in the borough, events like this are a hopeful sign of better things to come and the power of community spirit. 

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