18 Delicious Reasons to head to this year's Manchester Food & Drink Festival

The original Manchester food party and still the best, the Manchester Food and Drink Festival have unveiled the full programme of events for their celebratory 20th anniversary.

By Ben Brown | 7 September 2017

Share this story

No food celebration in the North brings together so many talented collaborators from so many corners of the food scene or offers such an unparalleled range and breadth of events, with something to please all palates.

This year’s Festival sees involvement from 252 partners including chefs, brewers, authors, street food traders, wine merchants, restaurants, cafes, art galleries, forgotten railways, community groups, pubs, bars and food foragers.

The centre piece is the Festival Hub on Albert Square, where the biggest and best-ever pop up food village is to be built.  This will become the city’s very own heavenly food and drink neighbourhood for 11 jam-packed days. The Hub will be open from 12noon – 11pm daily and will feature street food, an indie beer festival, gin, wine, chefs, masterclasses, pop up restaurants, live music and more.

Here’s a selection of our Top Picks:

The Festival Hub @ Albert Square
Thursday 28th September to Sunday 8th October
The Heart of the Action, the Festival Hub, will remain at its traditional home on Albert Square, and will be a ‘better than ever’ bespoke, pop-up food village, open from 12noon – 11pm daily! As ever the Hub is free and fantastic, with a whole new design, layout and some exciting additions too.

In situ throughout the Festival will be the city’s best mix of street food traders (from Manchester and beyond), Vin Van Voom Wine bar, the CITYLIFE live music stage, the MFDF Live Cookery Theatre, an indie beer festival, a gin garden, wine tastings, pop up restaurants, masterclasses, workshops and more. There’s even 2 Hub Cocktail Bars this year!


Fever Tree Gin Garden and The Dark Spirit Den @ Festival Hub
Thursday 28th September to Sunday 8th October
An array of extraordinary gin will be on the menu via the free to enter Fever Tree Gin Garden and Dark Spirits Den. Festival goers will be able to create their very own bespoke, ‘ultimate’ gin and tonic with a host of gins available, all chosen to perfectly pair with the Fever Tree range of mixers.

The Dark Spirits Den is a brand-new addition to the Festival. It will be the ultimate festival hangout with visitors able to sample their favourite dark spirits, as well as gin, with live entertainment from local musicians and songwriters from across Manchester and undercover seating all in a specially created space inspired by the contrasts of light and dark.


Indie Beer Fest @ Festival Hub
Thursday 28th September to Sunday 8th October
This year’s Festival Beer Bar represents a non-stop, indie extravaganza of beautiful brews making this the ultimate 20th birthday beer fest! All on tap, all the way through MFDF, and all making up the Festival centrepiece – the Festival’s huge beer bar at the Hub!

Leading the way will be Brightside, Wildside, Ticketybrew, Black Jack, Runaway, Seven Brothers and the Manchester Brewing Co. Alongside our local brews are the official beers of MFDF 2017, on tap throughout the festival. Shedhead, a 4.6% ABV American-style pale ale brewed in Sweden, and Brooklyn and Poretti lagers, from America and Italy respectively. All of this housed under one, gigantic, all weather pop up beer hall complete with long tables, sofas, live music stage and room for dancing!


Champagne & Oyster Tasting @ Randall and Aubin
Thursday 28th September, 7pm
Learn more about the decadent world of Champagne and Oysters with Manchester’s newest French brasserie, in conjunction with Hallgarten Druitt & Novum wines.
Book early to secure a place as spaces are limited.
Tickets from here


MFDF & Tampopo 20th Birthday Party @ Mayfield Depot
Friday 29th September
Authentic, independent Pan Asian restaurant, Tampopo, is 20 this year too. These two iconic Manchester food brands will be celebrating their joint birthday together the only way that both know how…with one great big gastro birthday party in a magnificent location. With DJ sets from Graeme Park, music from Happy Mondays’ Rowetta and lots of fabulous Tampopo food and drink – expect a hedonistic mix of full moon party fun and Manchester icons.
Tickets from here


Ed Baines: Cookery Demo and Q&A @ Festival Hub
Friday 29th September, 1pm
Chef/founder of Randall & Aubin, Ed Baines, is best known for his role as a judge on ITV’s hugely successful Britain’s Best Dish.  He is hosting his own masterclass and Q&A session at the Hub, sharing some of the secrets of his legendary Soho brasserie, an offshoot of which has transferred to Manchester this year.


Ella Mills: Q and A/Book Signing @ Festival Hub
Saturday 30th September, 4pm
Award-winning cookery author and entrepreneur Ella Mills will be at the Festival Hub for a Q&A, sharing some of the secrets of her phenomenal success story and signing copies of her book Deliciously Ella With Friends.


Cup North @ Festival Hub
Sunday 1st October, Noon – 6pm
Cup North, the people behind Manchester Coffee Festival will be popping up at the Hub to present a day of tasting, talking and learning. Inside the coffee tent there will be the opportunity to try and buy coffee from a range of local roasters including Heart & Graft, Ancoats Coffee Co. and Passionfruit. Visitors are invited to engage with a number of free talks and demos throughout the day, all aimed at bringing consumers closer to the world of professional coffee making.


Basque Banquet @ Baratxuri Y Comedor, Ramsbottom
Tuesday 3rd October
Expect traditional Baque cuisine including whole fish and big cuts of meat roasted and chargrilled in the pintxos masters’ new Pereruela wood-fired oven. All Asado dishes are cut and served at the table with sides and rescoldo veg cooked in the embers of a fire.
Tickets from the bar or email info@levanterfinefoods.co.uk


Take a Journey through Spain with Iberica
Wednesday 4th October, 6pm
In a revelatory hands-on Spanish experience, kick off with a chance to mix your own G&T, before learning from head master-carver Sergio Escudero all about Jamón Ibérico through a live carving demo while enjoying this delicacy with a glass of bone-dry Manzanilla. After these two welcoming treats enjoy head chef Nacho Llinares’ bespoke menu including tapas and a dessert to share, with Paella Valenciana as a main course. Valencian paella is dry, with crunchy, caramelised socarrat – the team will show you how to scrape it from the pan bottom to unleash incredible flavours. To match these dishes– two special glasses of boutique Spanish wines.
Tickets from here


Cheese & Ciderologist @ Festival Hub
Wednesday 4th October, 6:30pm
The city of Manchester has but one commercial cider maker and he cordially invites you to join him and his team for this MFDF special event. With an impressive back catalogue of previous Cheese & Cider nights, join founder of The Moss Cider Project and new found friend Gabe Cook AKA The Ciderologist (Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch go-to cider guy) for an evening of pairings from near and far.
Tickets from here


Hispi Meets The Unabombers @ Mayfield Depot
Thursday 5th October
A collaboration between food and drink innovator, Gary Usher, and club alchemists-turned-restauranteurs The Unabombers, this huge banquet-come-food party will bring together 2 of the hottest food brands in the north – The Refuge and Hispi – along with club pioneers The Unabombers as they DJ throughout.  A completely unique food experience awaits.
Tickets from here


Big Indie Wine Fest @ Manchester Hall
Friday 6th & Saturday 7th October
One of Manchester’s most well-known buildings, located at the gateway to Spinningfields, Manchester Hall is a Grade II listed building that has been transformed into a stunning and unique space.  It will be hosting this year’s ‘Big Indie Wine Fest’ which returns as one of the most popular events at MFDF.  With an extra special bonanza of independent wine merchants bringing the highest quality exclusive wine, this event is one not to be missed.  Serving new wines from Croatia to independent French wines the event will also host a session of masterclasses including a wine tasting masterclass by the BBC’s Kate Goodman.
Tickets from here


Thomasina Miers: Cookery Demo & Book Signing @ Festival Hub
Saturday 7th October, 2pm
Ex-Masterchef winner, and Mexican food expert, Thomasina, comes to the MFDF. Prolific author and Guardian columnist, she is demonstrating recipes from her latest book “Home Cook by Thomasina Miers” and signing copies afterwards.


Aiden Bryne : Cookery Demo @ Festival Hub
Saturday 7th October, 3:30pm
A prodigious talent, Aiden is renowned in the City for opening the fine dining Manchester House with Living Ventures which sent his profile soaring. It immediately scooped an unprecedented hat-trick of triumphs at the 2014 Manchester Food and Drink Awards – Best Restaurant, Best Bar and Best Newcomer – and now holds a coveted four AA Rosettes.


Thomasina Miers: Day of the Dead @ Mayfield Depot
Saturday 7th October
Forget the infamous “Spectre” opening scene, Thomasina Miers, the red hot Mexican food entrepreneur, brings a new gastro take on the infamous ‘Day of the Dead’ with a Mexican banquet every bit as fantastical as the venue in which it’s taking place.
Tickets from here


Manchester Tart off & Forever Manchester Bake Sale @ Festival Hub
Sunday 8th October, Noon – 6pm
In celebration of 20 years of MFDF, the Festival are resurrecting a competition that was staged in year 1… The search to find the best Manchester Tart in the city.  The people of Greater Manchester will be asked to put their heart into the tart and enter their homemade creations so that the ultimate Tart of Manchester can be crowned! There will also be a Forever Manchester Caketober Charity Bake Sale, with all proceeds supporting community activity across Greater Manchester.


Goatober @ The Koffee Pot
Sunday 8th October
Darren Goodwin (Grafene), Mary-Ellen McTague (Manchester Art Gallery Café), Richard Sharples (Hispi) and James Whetlor (Cabrito Goat Meat) are cooking a four-course menu using kid goat meat or dairy in every dish. It is part of an entire month nationwide devoted to celebrating dishes made from male billy goats, which are usually discarded at birth as a waste product of the dairy industry.
Tickets from here

For a more detailed look into all the events, check out the Festival brochure, which can be downloaded here