From the Manchester beer bar to Hispi vs Volta, MFDF's twentieth birthday extravaganza promises an extra special line up

Manchester’s most celebrated chefs, operators and producers are lining up for this year’s Manchester Food & Drink Festival (MFDF), which will take place between the 28th September and 9th October.

MFDF’s twentieth birthday edition welcomes a wide selection of local, national and international chefs, together with quality food and drink brands, who will take over some of the city's most exciting, historic and even forgotten locations.  

Several leading restaurants and bars, meanwhile, will host a parallel fringe programme: including the Bookatable Festival Feast - a series of bespoke dining menus, created especially for the festival by restaurants such as The French, Hawksmoor and Harvey Nichols.

MFDF will also be teaming up with MCR Beer week to create a calendar of beer-focused events in bars, pubs and breweries citywide, while Greater Manchester’s best bakers will be asked to put their heart into tart, entering their homemade creations to be crowned the Ultimate Manchester Tart.

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MFDF hub, Albert Square

Expect pop-up restaurants and independent street foodsters galore in the free-to-entre Festival Hub on Albert Square. From midday to 11pm, for the duration of the festival, there will be a ‘better than ever’ food village with a brand new design and some exciting additions.

Visitors can also take advantage of the Vin Van Voom wine bar, new Manchester beer bar or gin garden and enjoy the sounds of the MFDF live music stage. The MFDF Live Cookery Theatre, in a marquee within the hub, will see the biggest programme of master classes and workshops yet.    

A special programme of ticketed events and banquets will also be held at Manchester’s abandoned railway station, Mayfield Depot, which is to be transformed into an extraordinary dining room.

Tickets will be available via the MFDF website. Here are some of the highlights so far (more events will announced over the coming months):

Friday 29 September - Chef patron at El Gato Negro, Simon Shaw, will be hosting an authentic Spanish evening for 50 special guests in the Festival Hub on Albert Square. 

Simon Shaw El Gato Negro Manchester Chef Patron
El Gato Negro's Simon Shaw
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‘Deliciously’ Ella will be setting up her MaE Deli brand in Albert Square

Saturday 30 September - Independent Pan Asian restaurant Tampopo will also be celebrating its twentieth birthday, with a joint MFDF party. Expect a hedonistic mix of fabulous food, full moon fun and Manchester icons.

Back at the festival hub, award-winning cookery author and entrepreneur ‘Deliciously’ Ella Mills will be setting up her London-based MaE Deli brand in Albert Square - her first ever pop-up outside the capital. 

Monday 2 October - Just Eat will be teaming up with Manchester Universities and some of their best restaurant partners to serve up a takeaway tasting menu in the Festival Hub.

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Sugo Pasta Kitchen will host a night of pasta and wine

Tuesday 3 OctoberSugo Pasta Kitchen will be bringing their acclaimed Sicilian pasta kitchen all the way from Altrincham to the Festival Hub, for one night of pasta and wine pairings in the city centre.

Thursday 5 October - There will be a special ‘Hispi Meets The Unabombers’ banquet hosted by chef Gary Usher (Sticky Walnut, Burnt Truffle and Hispi) and DJs-turned-restaurateurs, The Unabombers, who are behind Didsbury’s award-winning Volta restaurant.

Back at the Festival Hub, Matthew Nutter, from Stockport’s Allotment restaurant, will be hosting a seven-course vegan tasting banquet - giving an insight into just how delicious and versatile locally sourced, high quality vegan and gluten free food can be. The banquet will include his take on a ‘vegetable grill’ and a playful shot at tea and biscuits for dessert. 

Sticky Walnut Staff
Chef Gary Usher (far right) will team up with The Unabombers

Friday 6 October - As part of the MFDF Big Indie Wine Fest, BBC star and founder of Reserve wines Kate Goodman will host a food pairing together with Cloudwater Beer extraordinaire Paul Jones, and food from Altrincham Market’s Wolf House Kitchen. One of the key figures behind Manchester’s micro beer boom, Paul will be teaming up with Kate for the first time to host a fascinating evening exploring the cultural and gastronomic differences between wine and beer, alongside the best food pairings for each. 

Saturday 7 October - A ‘Day of the Dead’ themed Mexican banquet by ex-Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers, co-owner of the Wahaca restaurant chain. 

Mowgli owner and food writer Nisha Katona will be back at the Festival Hub sharing her skills at her first MFDF cookery demo, as well as signing copies of her new book The Spice Tree. Later on, Kwoklyn Wan, brother of stylist and food lover Gok Wan, will be demonstrating recipes from his new cookery book Chinese Soul Food and signing copies afterwards.  

Meanwhile, festival veteran Aiden Byrne will be staging a six-course tasting menu and wine flight at Manchester House on 3rd October as well as launching his new book at the Festival Hub, ahead of a live cookery demo on the 7th. 

Aiden Byrne Chef Manchester House
Manchester House chef Aiden Byrne will stage a six-course tasting menu

This initial announcement marks the official countdown to the festival, but organisers will reveal further events in the run up to 28th September, as well as announcing the MFDF Awards shortlist on Thursday 8th June.

This year’s award winners will be announced at Manchester Food and Drink Festival’s Gala Dinner, on 9th October at The Principal Hotel. 

For more info and tickets visit