Wow! To paraphrase Alan Carr, “What a weekend it’s been…”

Bolton was certainly buzzing this Bank Holiday weekend and around 250,000 people are thought to have flocked to the town centre over the last four days, to drink in the atmosphere and feed on the fantastic flavours filing the streets.

The Bolton Live team were out and about throughout the weekend, bringing you a taste of the festival, from the stallholders to celebrities, all playing their part in putting Bolton firmly on the foodie map.

Just a reminder that our team are all volunteers, learning as we go along, and often using our own equipment and sharing skills to bring you an honest experience, as though you were actually there. This year we experimented with snapchat and live Facebook – it has been a massive challenge but we hope you understand that although it wasn’t all totally edited and polished, it allowed us to bring it to you as it happened. Bolton Council kindly allowed us access to interviews and events, and they have once again delivered a momentous weekend of high-quality entertainment that brings a lot of tourists to the town and raises Bolton’s profile.

I won’t go into much detail as we did a roundup of each day, so this is just a bit of an overview, together with some highlights.

Children were well catered for throughout the festival, with crafts, golf, soft play, science experiments, robots, a Learning Kitchen, free food tasters and even a beach!

Street food, to graze on as you browse, was plentiful and attracted big queues. There truly was a choice of food from all around the world and it was hard to choose from the amazing choice available.

Celebrity chef demonstrations also attracted big crowds and the tents were packed with people. The regional chefs demos at Bolton Market on Friday and Saturday, then at The Vaults (Marketplace)  on Sunday and Monday, were completely free and an opportunity to see local chefs (including some fairly well-known names) in action, taste their food, get some really great tips and ask questions. We were treated to scallops, duck pithivier, truffles, layer cake, stunning cupcakes, sweet omelettes and much more.

Today, in a nutshell, started with an interview with James Martin, followed by cake, coffee, lemonade, Andrew Nutter, whisky, chocolate and cider. I know, I know, it’s a really tough life but reader,we did it all for you!

Some of our team shared their favourite memories: the chocolate demonstration by Jessica O’Keeffe was a highlight for Wendy, as she created delicious and mouth-watering chocolate mint truffles. The local live music was Kieran’s priority, and Dharma was one of the artists who performed and was broadcast live by us. Charlotte really enjoyed Luis Troyano’s savoury muffins. I was torn between Luis’s choc/orange star bake and the whisky tasting. I am not a whisky lover but, for me, it was a smooth and flavourful way to end the festival, and epitomised the fact that the festival is all about exploring new tastes.

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Having just mentioned some of them, I really have to thank all our FoodFest team:

Naomi was our photographer for the weekend, and beavered away at every photo opp. Jillian filled in on Friday, interviewing Michael Caines and doing some enthusiastic pieces to camera to set the scene. Charlotte, our resident chef, helped with our Snapchat feed and brought her experience to bear when watching the live demos. Kieran and Dharma streamed (and performed) some great live music on Facebook and shared on Snapchat. Wendy was our stalwart and support, helping to report on Bolton Market and Vaults demos. I am sure you are sick of the sight and sound of me (Carole) as I did many of the interviews, while our Editor, Pete, quite frankly drove us all to distraction and generally got sent back to the editing desk! (Joking!!!) The festival took a huge team effort and, despite it being a massive learning curve in many ways, we all worked together pretty successfully, I think, and hopefully we did the festival (and ourselves) proud.

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