A Family Day Out at Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2017

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Living in Bolton, it's clear that one of the jewels in the town's year is the annual Food and Drink Festival but we've often managed to miss it. This year I was determined that would be different and, having booked tickets for an event today at Bolton Library, we planned a day at the festival in the calendar a few weeks ago.
Hot dogs at Bolton Food Festival 2017

The Food and Drink Festival takes over the streets of Bolton completely, with all kinds of street food and artisan food and drink vendors available. We arrived just before lunch and decided to take a pit stop to try out some of the wares on offer. Bud chose a hot dog which he thought was hilarious as the sausage and ketchup were placed in a hollowed out bun and it was presented to him with just the end of the hot dog poking out! A real pig in a blanket. Ian and I shared some Spanish potatoes with chicken and peppers, which were very tasty, while LM and Little E were enthralled by a Tornado Potato. All of these were available within a few metres of each other on Deansgate and Market Street, with a very handy seating area too.
Tornado Potatoes at Bolton Food Festival 2017

From here we headed to Victoria Square and Le Mans Crescent which are the heart of the Festival. Aldi, the main Festival sponsors this year, had a wine pavillion showing many of their award winning bottles and there are two stages featuring live music, with the opportunity to grab a glass of wine or pint of organic cider too.

We had tickets for the Peter Rabbit Experience at Bolton Library so we headed over there next. The library foyer had a smoothie bike available and Bud decided he was going to blend his own smoothie. The staff were lovely, helping him to choose his fruit and explaining that the smoothie needed banana to make it thick. He enjoyed pedalling the bike to make the blender work although neither he nor LM were overly keen on the smoothie result, Bud isn't a fan of banana so I wasn't surprised by this.
Smoothie bike at Bolton Library Food Festival 2017

The Peter Rabbit Experience took place in the lecture hall in the basement of the building and we were treated to the story of Peter Rabbit in Mr McGregor's garden, a singalong and the chance to try some of the fruit and vegetables that he might have found there. Our singing brought about the arrival of a very special visitor and the children were delighted to have the chance to meet up with the bunny himself. This event was the basis for us planning a day at the Festival and we thoroughly enjoyed it. A free event, although pre-booking was required, it was well attended and a great way for children to experience the Peter Rabbit story.
Peter Rabbit Experience Bolton Food Festival 2017

Our next stop was the Octagon Theatre across the road. This is one of my favourite places in Bolton and I'm a regular visitor to watch plays there, although the Food and Drink Festival offers the opportunity to experience the main auditorium and studio theatre in a completely new way.
Octagon Theatre Platform 50 Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2017

The main theatre is The Railway Children themed, with a visit to Platform 50 on offer. Instead of a stage a big wooden train snakes across the floor of the auditorium on a trip to the beach. All of the seats had stripy deckchair covers and there were traditional games like 'pin the tail on the donkey' and Hoopla available. LM was delighted to see glitter tattoos on offer and took the opportunity to have a butterfly on her hand (for an optional donation) and Bud loved the photo booth with actual costumes from the Octagon stores to try on.
Octagon Theatre Platform 50 Photo Booth with Costumes Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2017

Next door, in the Octagon Studio, Little E found his happy place. Bolton Library and Museum Services staged an Egypt themed room which was a huge sand pit and water play channel. Children were invited to make sandcastles, take part in an archaeology dig or just splash in the water. Let's just say that I was very pleased I'd bought Little E a new t-shirt earlier in the day as his was drenched by the time we left. He loved it so much he cried when we had to come away!
Octagon Theatre Studio Egypt Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2017

We had a really excellent day at the Bolton Food and Drink Festival today. It's lovely to see the town centre taken over by something so vibrant and fun. There is so much going on including exhibitions by some of the country's top chefs (we didn't even begin to explore these with three children in tow) and there's definitely something for everyone.

To find out more about the festival visit www.boltonfoodanddrinkfestival.com or check out  #BoltonFoodFest on social media.