It will be pans at the ready as record crowds are expected to attend one of the UK’s most popular free food and drink festivals this weekend.
Returning for its ninth year, the annual Leamington Food and Drink Festival will take place tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday at the Royal Pump Room Gardens in the heart of the town centre.
Thousands of food lovers flocked to last year’s event, which is organised by BID Leamington, and this year’s two-day event is anticipated to attract 25,000 visitors from across the UK.
The popularity of the free family-friendly festival has soared, with vendor space selling out in just ten days to eager exhibitors.
More than 150 businesses will be displaying their culinary skills and serving up delightful dishes to visitors as well as selling everything from traditional fayre and exotic cuisines to alcoholic liqueurs and healthy smoothies.
For the first time ever, a number of town centre retailers and restaurateurs will also be serving up a treat in Regent Court as Turtle Bay, Gusto, Rosie’s Tea Room, LK Bennett, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Prezzo, Lille Perle and Jaeger have collaborated to organise and provide a fringe event.
Across the weekend, Regent Court will play host to jazz band, the Sheila Fawkes quintet, who will provide the musical backdrop as businesses offer various samples, freebies and discounts. Local food blogger and journalist Ellen Manning, of Eat With Ellen, will also join the line up to host a live Q and A session with local chefs.
Various competitions will encourage amateur foodies to get involved in the culinary extravaganza, including the Great Leamington Bake Off, which returns for its second year on Saturday, inviting keen bakers to enter cakes and have them judged by local chefs.
The Home Cook of the Year, organised by Leamington butchers and delicatessen Aubrey Allen, is set to return on Sunday to crown Leamington’s finest amateur chef who will be judged on a three course cooking challenge.
The kids cookery school will also see children cooking up a storm, with sessions hosted by Gusto Restaurant, Nandos, Pizza Express and Yo! Sushi.
Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, said: “The food and drink festival is always a landmark occasion in Leamington’s calendar which attracts thousands of visitors from across the country.
“Now in its ninth year, it is excellent to see many of our favourite traders return as well as a number of new exhibitors.
“People can look forward to an exciting programme of demonstrations, cooking and baking competitions as well as sampling a wide range of delicious dishes.
“We look forward to welcoming visitors to the event this weekend and showcasing the diverse and distinctive restaurants, bars and retailers Leamington has to offer.”
It will not be just food and drink on the menu, as live music returns to the Royal Pump Room Gardens’ bandstand to entertain visitors. New this year will be four piece acoustic band Behind the Settee and country music from Honky Tonk Rose, along with The Wap Waps, Tom Kirkpatrick and The Rock Bottoms who have been booked for repeat performances.
For more information, visit www.leamingtonfoodfestival.co.uk