The countdown is underway to the Royal Leamington Spa Food and Drink Festival which is expected to attract more than 25,000 people again this year.
BID Leamington, which organises the festival with the support of businesses in and around the town, is hoping for a record crowd after exhibitor pitches and stalls for this year’s event were snapped up in record time.
More than 150 producers and retailers will be showcasing the best in food at the free-to-attend festival returning to the Royal Pump Room Gardens on Saturday September 5 and Sunday, September 6.
They will stand alongside an impressive line-up of chefs demonstrating their culinary talents, with live music and entertainment from performers including town favourite Thom Kirkpatrick and Dan Sealey from Britpop band Ocean Colour Scene.
Amateur chefs will also be in the spotlight all weekend with the first ever Leamington Bake Off with Sweet As Cake Emporium on Saturday and the return of Aubrey Allen’s Home Cook of the Year on Sunday.
Entries are still open for the new contest to find the town’s best amateur bakers with age categories for five to 11, 12 to 16 band over 16s.
Jenny Hudson, chef director and founder of Sweet As Cake Emporium, Peter Knibb, head chef and proprietor of Restaurant 23, and Laura Hamilton, chef and proprietor of Queans Restaurant, will make up the judging panel, with top prizes to be awarded from all three.
Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, said: “We’ve had a flurry of entries especially with the Great British Bake Off returning to our TV screens and we’re urging other home bakers not to miss out on the chance of a starring role at the festival.
“We’re asking people to enter in advance online and then bring their baking to the Festival Information Tent by noon on the opening day of the festival with the three best bakers to be crowned at 3pm.”
This year’s action-packed programme also features regular favourites including the BBQ Masterclass, Make & Bake Kids Cookery School and the hugely popular Taste Trail of eateries in the town centres.
Fifteen restaurants, including seven that are new for this year, will be taking part in the Taste Trail with limited tickets priced at £1 per person available each day from 10am at the Festival Information Tent.
The festival atmosphere will be topped off with live music on the bandstand including Gebby Eaton, The Kale-y Collective, The WapWaps, Jazulu Jazz Trio, Matt Bates and The Rock Bottoms featuring Dan Sealey and Adam Barry from Merrymouth.
Full event details including the festival programme, which runs from 10am to 6pm on both days, can be found on the www.leamingtonfoodfestival.co.uk website.
Admission is free.
Entry forms for the Leamington Bake Off are available from www.leamingtonfoodfestival.co.uk or www.sweet-as.co.uk