Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2023: James Martin and Gok Wan among celebrity chef line-up

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Everything you need to know about Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2023, including all the special events and which celebrity chefs will be there.

Bolton Food and Drink Festival, one of Greater Manchester’s biggest foodie events, returns to the town centre this August bank holiday with four days of entertainment, celebrity chef demos, family-friendly activities, music and, of course, food.

The festival, which is now in its eighteenth year, takes place annually, welcoming food traders of cuisines from around the world, as well as craft stalls. Last year, around 460,000 people attended the festival over the course of the weekend

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It takes place throughout the town centre and is a mostly free event. Tickets are only required for chef demos and other special events.

Celebrity chef demos – How to get tickets

Three celebrity chefs will be making appearances at this year’s festival: headliner James Martin as well as stylist-turned-TV-chef Gok Wan and Nisha Katona, Mowgli Street Food CEO and Great British Menu judge.

The demos will take place in the Festival Hall at Albert Halls and last approximately one hour. Standard tickets cost £15 and £10 for concessions. There are also VIP ticket options for £20 and £15 for concessions. More information can be found via the Bolton Food and Drink Festival website

Celebrity chef James Martin calls for margarine to be banned, saying the ingredient is “two elements away from plastic.”(Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)Celebrity chef James Martin calls for margarine to be banned, saying the ingredient is “two elements away from plastic.”(Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
Celebrity chef James Martin calls for margarine to be banned, saying the ingredient is “two elements away from plastic.”(Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Gok Wan will be kicking off the celebrity demos with his favourite Chinese dishes on Saturday 26 August, with two slots at 11am and 1pm. Nisha Katona will be showcasing Indian cuisine in her demos at 11am, 1pm and 3pm on Sunday 27 August. James Martin is headlining the festival with demos at 11am, 1pm and 3pm on Monday 28 August.

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The other celebrity chef making an appearance is Michael Caines, who has won and held two Michelin stars and is chef ambassador for the event. He will be launching the festival on Friday 25 August.

Music

There will be plenty of free entertainment over the weekend, including 60 performers and bands across two stages – a main stage  at Le Mans Crescent and an acoustic bar at Victoria Square. To keep the little ones entertained, there will also be a family zone on Le Mans Crescent with lots of activities and games.

Bolton Food Festival last ran ‘in person’ in 2019   Credit: ShutterstockBolton Food Festival last ran ‘in person’ in 2019   Credit: Shutterstock
Bolton Food Festival last ran ‘in person’ in 2019 Credit: Shutterstock

The stages will be entertaining crowds from 11am to 10pm each day, except Monday when the music stops at 6pm. After 9pm these areas will be 18+ only. There will be a wide variety of performances, including Irish dancers, choirs, soul, funk, jazz, folk, Latin American, indie, rock, dance and pop.

There will also be an massive afterparty on the Saturday night, with Gok Wan himself on the decks for a seven-hour set of classic dance and house music, accompanied by other great acts including Phats & Small, Sweet Female Attitude and Rio Fredrika. This will take place at the Albert Halls Theatre from 6pm until late. Standard tickets cost £27.50 and VIP tickets cost £40.

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Special events - how to get tickets

On the food side of things, there are a few other special ticketed events for visitors to try out, starting with dining experiences, where you get to interact with characters from film and TV. The first is the Fawlty Towers experience, taking place at The Albert Bar (Albert Halls) on Saturday 26 August, 6:30-9:30pm. Tickets cost £55. The Live and Let Dine James Bond experience will be taking place at the same place on Sunday 27 August, 7-10pm. Tickets are £55 and £45 for concessions.

Finally, there will be Bottomless Brunch sessions on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The first will be 11:30am-1pm and the second at 1:30pm-3pm, both at The Albert. Tickets are £30 standard, £25 concessions and £15 for non-alcoholic bottomless brunch. The menu includes eggs Benedict with nudja or smoked salmon, smashed avocado and poached egg, double bacon and cheese or roasted field mushrooms with spinach and scrambled crackd (vegan), plus a wide range of drinks and cocktails. More information can be found on the Bolton Food and Drink Festival website

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