Beer festivals, foodie days out a bit of black pudding lobbing in Manchester and beyond
It’s coming up to that time of the year again. A time to stroll, indoors and out, nibbling on samples, speaking to producers and consuming a festival’s worth of food and drink. We live for a good food and drink festival and the schedule for the year ahead is already shaping up to be a cracker.
There are large scale indoor ones, small-scale outdoor ones, specialist booze ones and even one which involves throwing some black puddings at a stack of Yorkshire puddings. All will be a great day out, all provide the opportunity to celebrate foodstuffs from near and far and all will be a great chance to learn. Get yourself a pen and start filling out your calendar.
SPRING FOOD & DRINK FAIR | PLATT FIELDS MARKET GARDEN | 1 MAY
Nowhere does a wholesome, outdoors all-dayer with food and drink like Platt Fields Market Garden and this one’s in aid of a great cause with all profits going to Eat Well MCR. Expect low intervention wines, local beers, wine and snacks from Suppher, food stalls from Isca, Blackbird Pantry (whose jerk chicken nuggets we tried recently and can't stop thinking about) and MUD kitchen. There are also workshops, DJs and free kids activities. There's no place quite like it.
STALYBRIDGE GIN & RUM FESTIVAL | BOWER FOLD EVENTS | 14 MAY
Not often we get a first on our list but we’re very proud to see this one taking place. You read it correct, the first annual Stalybridge Gin & Rum festival kicks off this year hosted by local spirits, craft beer and wine store Ol’s Beer & More. A real coup for the town, the one day festival will see distilleries including Salford Rum, Tameside Distillery, 4 Sister, Lucky Bee Gin, Curious Cat and Faith & Sons on hand throughout the day talking through their products. Of course there will be sampling too and a welcome drink upon arrival.
MANCHESTER VEGAN FESTIVAL | BOWLERS EXHIBITION CENTRE | 15 MAY
There are over 80 stalls at Manchester Vegan Festival, which is actually quite a lot if you think about it. Suitable for vegetarians, vegans and those who’re looking to dabble, the festival is a one-stop-shop for everything from food to shoes, jewellery to makeup. Plenty of vegan street food will be available on the day with proceeds from the event going to charity.
MANCHESTER RUM FESTIVAL | MERCURE HOTEL | 18 JUNE
The first and OG. Manchester Rum Festival is back again this year and if it’s anything like last year there’ll be a minimum of 30 rums from around the world, hundreds of litres poured, entertainment and a molasses-fuelled knees up. Promising rare bottles, local distillers and global titans, it’s one to pencil in.
FOODIES FESTIVAL | TATTON PARK | 8-10 JULY
Foodies is always a good two birds one stone festival. Lots of chef demos in the day and then a bit of cheesy pop music on the night. Chef headliners at this year’s event include Manc locals Caroline Martins and Adam Reid as well as Masterchef winners Daniel Lee and Tom Rhodes. Plenty of other stuff to get stuck into too, be it cookery masterclasses, foodie tutorials for the kids or an assortment of food and drinks exhibitors.
BEERS IN THE GARDEN | PLATT FIELDS MARKET GARDEN | 8 - 10 JULY
Tickets are selling quickly for this one so you’re going to want to be quick. It’s not hard to see why. Some of the nation’s coolest craft breweries are descending on Platt Fields Market Garden for a weekend of tastings and beer chat curated by Track and DEYA, with Isca and Where The Light Gets In providing the food. Limited tickets are still available for four-hour sittings across the weekend.
MANCHESTER CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL | MAYFIELD DEPOT | 22 - 23 JULY
It’s back for round two. This time you can sup on all your favourite craft brewery thirds in your special glass to the sweet, blissed-out sounds of, wait a minute, Goldie? Yes. Goldie. The line-up will inevitably be impressive, mixing local and international with a revolving band of street food indies. Always an evening well spent. Read our interview with MCR Craft Beer Festival's founders.
CLITHEROE FOOD FESTIVAL | VARIOUS | 30 JULY
We get it, it’s a bit further afield but treat yourself to a day out. It’s in a very good part of the world for gastropubs so stop off on the way there or back. Cancelled last year due to you know what, it’s back this year with live entertainment and a host of foodie stalls offering the finest local produce.
HEATON PARK FOOD FESTIVAL | HEATON PARK | 20 - 21 AUGUST
You can get the lot in Heaton Park come August. International street food, indie drinks brands, live chef demos, artisan markets and plenty of live music and entertainment for both kids and grown-ups. Add the enriching green surrounds of Heaton Park and you’ve got yourself a lovely day out.
WORLD BLACK PUDDING LOBBING CHAMPIONSHIP | RAMSBOTTOM | 13 SEPTEMBER
The annual tradition returns this year to one of the world’s most legendary sports arenas. Yes, that’s right, outside the Royal Oak pub on Bridge Street in Ramsbottom. As much of a festival of food as anything else claiming to be, the traditions in their loose form date back to 1455. Anyone can compete and all you have to do is knock off as many Yorkshire puddings off a plinth as you can with three black puddings. There’s always a bit of food about too if you’re peckish.
KANTINA WEEKENDER | ESCAPE TO FREIGHT ISLAND | TBC
One of the city’s biggest food and drink festivals. Although details are muted, there’s no chance you’re not going to get a Kantina Weekender this year so buckle up and make some room. Last year saw the likes of Simon Martin, Gary Usher, Mary-Ellen McTague, Brad Carter and Sam Buckley on the pans and with changes ahoy at Freight Island, don’t be surprised to see a host of new local and national chefs serving up food to order.
GOBEFEST| CATHEDRAL GARDENS | 24-26 JUNE
An interesting one if you’re after something a bit different. Gobefest is the only free weekend-long festival to celebrate the region of Transylvania and the Carpathian Basin, bringing the region’s finest culture, food and drink to Manchester. Feast on traditional BBQ, as well as other local delicacies and the impressive-sounding Pompas Mezes' Hungarian honey bread, said to be among the most intricately embellished in the world.
GIN AND RUM FESTIVAL | MANCHESTER CATHEDRAL | 9 - 10 SEPTEMBER
Not one but two spirits to get stuck into in all of their respective glories at Manchester Cathedral. How does 120 of the world’s best gins and rums sound? Not to mention an added themed tequila bar. Entry includes a special glass, reusable straw, samples, makers talks, demonstrations and of course, a DJ, so you can have a little boogie once you’ve had a few.
MANCHESTER FOOD & DRINK FESTIVAL | CATHEDRAL GARDENS | 15 - 26 SEPTEMBER
The annual big’un. MFDF, pronounced muff duff if you’re into that sort of thing. Expect Cathedral Square markets and foodstuffs vendors, charity dinners, an indoor beer tent, live music, an app to tell you what to do each day of the week and to top it all off a glamorous awards ceremony where you get to vote on your favourite food and drink indies.
INDY MAN BEER CON | VICTORIA BATHS | 29 SEPTEMBER - 2 OCTOBER
It’s so great to have Indy Man back. After a two year hiatus due to COVID-19, we’re pleased to have it on this year’s list. One of the biggest and best homegrown beer festivals in the land, not only do you get to drink the best local craft beer and go to tastings and workshops, but you get to do it all in the glorious confines of Victoria Baths. Keep an eye out for sister event That Summer Beer Thing too.
MANCHESTER WHISKY FESTIVAL| MANCHESTER CATHEDRAL | 21 - 22 OCTOBER
Get yourself down to Manchester Cathedral for some drams. Fine whiskies from around the world will be available for sampling with a chance to speak to the distillers themselves. Masterclasses, a festival shop and exhibitors will also be there making for a whisky fan’s dream day out.
MANCHESTER COFFEE FESTIVAL | BOWLERS EXHIBITION CENTRE | 12 & 13 NOVEMBER
The interesting thing about Manchester Coffee Festival is it’s very much an independent look behind the scenes of specialty coffee. A sneak peek that you don’t get when you order your morning flat white but the sort of innovation that inspires the coffeeshop culture most of us experience every day. The programme includes tastings, workshops, competitions and the chance to brew with the professionals. Sample until you’re shaking to your core.
SALFORD BEER FESTIVAL | HEMSLEY HOUSE | 17 - 19 NOVEMBER
This year’s Salford Beer Festival follows a heartfelt blogpost announcement that we encourage everyone to read. “Existing in the undergrowth of beer events”, as the organisers would put it, the festival’s aim has always been to shed light on the craft breweries that others don’t. Just when you expect them to announce they’re stopping, they pencil you in for mid-November. Details are pending but pop it in your diary anyway.
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