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Manchester's longest running food festival

Last week (16th September) was the start of the Manchester Food and Drink Festival, running until the 27th September.

It's the city's longest running food festival taking place at Cathedral Gardens and around the city bringing a huge programme of gastro entertainment to Manchester.

This year’s event is headline sponsored by food delivery service Just Eat and, as ever, will celebrate Manchester’s incredible food and drink scene, creating one big, much-anticipated foodie feast in the city.

Photo taken by The Food Obsessions at launch night

The centre of the action is at The Festival Hub - the free to enter, pop up food and drink village that will take over Cathedral Gardens and become “Foodie HQ '' for the duration of the Festival. There is a gigantic beer bar, wine, gin bar, streetfood, artisan food market, banquets and live music it’s one big celebration of everything we love (and have missed) about the city’s excellent dining and drinking scene.

Photo taken by The Food Obsessions at launch night

The Festival Hub is open from Thursday 16th – Sunday 19th September and then again from Wednesday 22nd to Sunday 26th September . It’s free to enter and no booking is required, although some tables within The Hub will be available to book over these two long weekends.

You can download the brand new Festival app to bring the Festival to your fingertips. The app is a new digital ‘on the go’ festival programme with app users able to browse the full festival programme, reserve a table at the Festival Hub and vote in the MFDF awards too. The app can be downloaded in the apple and android app stores by searching ‘Mcr Food and Drink Festival’.

The full festival programme can be found on the MFDF website.

Photo taken by The Food Obsessions at launch night

We've got the full programme highlights for the MFDF 2021 curtesy of the team, you can read it below:

MFDF x Eat Well Dinner… 21st September, Mana Bag yourself a ticket to the most exciting culinary event of the year as the most innovative chefs in town team up to raise money for Greater Manchester’s amazing social enterprise, and Festival partner, Eat Well.

The dinner will be held at Manchester's only Michelin Star restaurant Mana with an incredible line up of chefs each preparing a course:

● Simon Martin from Mana

● Ben Humphries from District

● Mary-Ellen McTague from The Creameries

● Eddie Shepherd from the Walled Garden

● Anna Søgaard from Ernst There are only 26 tickets available for this very special occasion and they are expected to sell out in minutes so food fans are advised to move fast if they want to be at this event. All profits from the sale of the tickets will go towards funding chef-made meals for people sidelined by poverty in Greater Manchester. Eat Well MCR will also be running a raffle throughout the festival featuring loads of incredible prizes like VIP Homobloc Tickets, £150 to spend at Freight Island, Dinner for two at District, £100 to spend at Tampopo and more to be announced! Raffle cards will be on the tables at the Hub with all proceeds supporting Eat Well. Meanwhile the Eat Well Kitchen at the Hub will see an amazing streetfood offering come to the festival courtesy of some fantastic chefs and collaborators Throughout the second weekend 24th - 26th Sept, chefs including Rice Over Everything, Mama Z and Blackbird Pantry will each take turns to host the kitchen serving up their own take on Festival fodde with all profits funding chef-made meals for people sidelined by poverty in Greater Manchester.

Just Eat Street Kitchen at The Festival Hub Headline sponsors of the Festival, Just Eat, will be creating their very own “Festival HQ” at the Hub on Cathedral Gardens. With a host of their restaurant partners joining in the fun the Just Eat Street Kitchen will be a heavenly food enclave with everything from vegan bao buns to churros and chocolate. Thursday 16th - Sun 19th:

Vertigo Plant Based Eatery will be serving up a special festival collection of Bao Buns with stunning plant-based fillings as well as a buffalo cauliflower wings and their amazing cinnamon “baonuts” plus Churros too!

Peck & Yard Pan Asian chicken shop Peck & Yard are presenting an incredible collection of dishes including their famous hot signature burger topped with Japanese Mayo, the Pow Pow Stack as well as chicken wings and awesome vegan chicken options. Thursday 23rd - Sun 26th:

Award winning, independent Spanish Restaurant La Bandera are bringing a beautiful collection of their favourite dishes to the Festival including Squid Ink Croquettes, Sea and Land Paella, mini Spanish Burgers and Padron Peppers.

JJ Vish and Chips – Vegan chip shop legends JJ Vish and Chips have curated the ultimate plant-based and veggie Chippy experience for the final weekend of the Festival including

Battered ‘Sosage” “Tofish and Chips” and “Scam-Pi and Chips”. Plus there’s all the classic sides given a vegan twist - mushy peas, minty peas, vegan gravy, homemade tartar sauce and more. Expect swing seats to lounge on, giveaways and general good vibes as the Just Eat team will be on site with goodies including discount vouchers to spend on your next order. All the fantastic restaurants above are also available to order via Just Eat and so the favourite dishes discovered at MFDF can be enjoyed again at home post-Fest!

MFDF Artisan Markets Thursday 16TH - Sunday 19th Sept & Thursday 23rd – Sunday 26th Sept Festival Hub, Cathedral Gardens Open Midday – 7pm. A free to enter, independent food shopping experience brought to the Hub for the very first time. This new bountiful market will feature some of the region's best independent food and drink producers, makers and businesses. Thursday 16TH - Sunday 19th The first weekend at the Artisan Food Markets… Chorlton Bread Co - Serving handmade plant-based , sourdough bread and cookies all the way from Chorlton.

Cafe Cannoli - Bringing handmade, authentic Sicilian cannoli to the Festival.

DevilDog Sauces - Small batch chilli sauces and seasonings made right here in Manchester.

Cocoa and Bloom - Beautiful, sustainable, handmade chocolates made with natural fresh fillings inventive,

Chorlton Cheesemongers -The cheesie big guns are out! Chorlton Cheesemongers will be on site serving up their best quality farmhouse and artisan handmade cheeses, chutney and pickles.

Manchester Cheesecake Co- Homemade, locally produced small batch cheesecakes in an array of amazing flavours.

Eat Well - Manchester’s social enterprise, Eat Well, will present their limited edition hampers containing the finest artisan produce from a hand selected bunch of the best indie food heroes. BreadFlower - Handmade bagels and seasonal bouquets from MFDF Award-nominated new local producers BreadFlower.

Twisted Wheel Beer Co - Craft Beer brewed in the Northwest and celebrating the spirit of Northern Soul!

Prestwich Gin - Locally produced, award nominated, small batch gin!

O’Donnell Moonshine - Handcrafted spirits and liqueurs presented in their now iconic glass jars. A throwback to American prohibition usually found at Hatch and coming to the Festival for the first time.

Jack Berry Gluten free and speciality flours and bread mixes. Raw, natural honeys, seeds and No BEE Vegan HONEE® (the recently launched, unique vegan honey alternative)

Thursday 23rd – Sunday 26th Sept

Companio Bakery - Ancoats’ neighbourhood, sourdough bakery will be serving up their fresh loaves to the festival customers.

Paradiso Authentic Italian - Freshly made, authentic Italian desserts including their famous flavoured Tiramisu… Bellissimo! Chorlton Cheesemongers - Chorlton Cheesemongers will also join us for the second weekend of our Festival Market with their best quality farmhouse and artisan handmade cheeses, chutney and pickles.

Eat Well -Manchester’s social enterprise, Eat Well, will present their limited edition hampers containing the finest artisan produce from a hand selected bunch of the best indie food heroes.

The Gourmet Brownie Co - Gorgeous gooey brownies handmade and brought to the Festival to fulfil the needs of even the sweetest of tooths.

Ribble Valley Gin - Small batch, multi award winning gins brough to the Hub direct from the Ribble Valley.

HM Pasties - Pies and Pasties handmade in Bolton with the social mission of reducing re-offending by employing people with criminal convictions.

Crozier Drinks - Professional, premixed Artisan cocktails specialising in inventive combinations of fruits spirits and spices.

O’Donnell Moonshine - Handcrafted spirits and liqueurs presented in their now iconic glass jars. A throwback to American prohibition usually found at Hatch and coming to the Festival for the first time.

Say Cheers to Manchester’s Best Beers! The Manchester Beer Bar at the Festival Hub Open 12noon - 11pm. Thursday 16th - Sunday 19th & Thursday 23rd - Sunday 26th September at Cathedral Gardens The biggest beer bar in town is back! The MFDF Manchester Beer Bar will serve up a beautiful bounty of the best beers from around the region, celebrating our incredible and inventive craft beer scene. There’ll be tonnes of beers on site, locally brewed by the likes of Northern Monkey and Pomona Island Brewery (MFDF Award Nominees- Best Independent Drinks Producer), Burton Road Brewing, Bollington Brewery, Brightside, Blackedge, Thirst Class, Stubborn Mule, Bank Top and Silver Street.

Dig into everything from Halloumi Fries to Chocolate Galettes at the Hub The Festival Hub is home to an epic street food market featuring a whole village of the best independent food traders around. From the juiciest burgers to woodfired pizza, stunning pies to halloumi fries, via artisan ice cream and chocolate galettes… it’s a street food feast to be reckoned with. Here’s the full line up and what they will be serving.. Thursday 16TH - Sunday 19th Sept

What’s Your Beef serving their locally and ethically sourced grass fed beef burgers.

Aunti Ji’s serving serving Bespoke dishes that capture the flavours of the East. Grandad’s Sausages; brilliant bangers made in Bury by the ultimate sausage aficionados - expect the best and most decadent dogs around.

Maison Breizh; Authentic Breton crêpes and galettes via Manchester. Oh My Glaze: Bringing wraps, wings & halloumi to the celebrations

Mezze: The family-run, Cypriot kitchen will be joining us at The Hub with their superb take on all things Mediterranean.

23rd – 26th Sept

Halloumination; Professing to make you go ‘Weak at the knees for squeaky cheese’ since Jan 2018 the Halloumination team serve THE most delicious halloumi fries + halloumi burgers around. The Spinn: Gatley-based indie restaurant & bar will be bringing their amazing trademark burgers to the festival. I Knead Pizza; Stockport-based local food heroes serve up their woodfired pizza and amazing ‘pizza bites’

Northern Soul Grilled Cheese like no other from the UK’s first grilled cheese restaurant based in Manchester.

Mi & Pho: Northenden’s Award-winning Vietnamese restaurant brings Bahn Mi and Pho to the Festival.

Spoons Desserts: Cracking crepes made locally and featuring all the classic crepe toppings. As well as this array of local street food traders, Meatless Farm will be at the Hub over both serving up samples of their excellent vegan cooking products as well as a full, eat on-site street food menu of Meatless Farm Burgers.

Eat Your Way Around the City on a Budget - Festival offers There’s a whole host of special offers from Manchester’s brilliant restaurant community listed on the MFDF app/website which include… 20 Stories - A very special 3 course set Festival lunch served Monday – Thursday for the duration of the Festival for £23.50 Vapiano Manchester Fresh pasta and pizza favourites Vapiano are serving up a Festival offer of 20% off between 16th - 27th September to anyone who shows the MFDF App. TNQ Restaurant The Northern Quarter Restaurant is offering a 4-course special festival media including a glass of Taittinger Champagne to festival-goers for £50.00. Available Monday-Saturday 12-10 pm. Reservation Required. Impossible Offering a special Festival discount of 20% off food and drink Tuesday - Thursday and Friday before 8pm when guests show the app or mention the festival on pre booking.

Nibble NQ £5 Coffee and Cake Deal. Available anytime throughout the festival when guests show the MFDF App.

Peru Perdu Independent Ceviche & South American restaurant Peru Perdu are offering 10% discount on the total bill between 3pm – 7pm across the festival. Fitzgerald Speakeasy drinking den, The Fitzgerald are serving up treats for the weekend with two vintage cocktails for £12 + live music all day on Fridays.

Hula Tiki dive bar Hula are offering two Zombies for £10 during the Festival. Quarter House and Man With The FIsh Beer and BBQ joints Quarter House & Man With The Fish are both offering 25% off the full bill for festival-goers from Sunday - Thursday. The Mouse Trap Ramsbottom’s cheese, wine and good times venue, The MouseTrap, has created a special cheese and wine tasting experience for MFDF. Four award-winning artisan cheeses will be paired perfectly with a selection of wines and served in their signature style with flavoured breads, Fine Cheese Company Crackers & Toasts for Cheese, Mrs Bridges Chutney & Farmhouse Butter. £20 per person. For full festival offers listings and Ts and Cs please see

The Festival Fringe After a tough year, the city’s hospitality industry has come together to celebrate the Festival and created a fantastic programme of events to showcase their amazing venues. MFDF is a great time to discover and support some of the city’s most exciting restaurants, bars, cafes and chefs. Highlights from the Festival Fringe are below… for the full programme, details and Ts and Cs please visit An incredible five course dinner at Tast will take place on Thursday 23rd September in association with Macallan Whisky designed to take you all the way to Barcelona with a touch of Scotland! The evening will feature a five course gastronomic tasting menu created especially for MFDF by Executive Chef Paco Pérez and Head Chef Julià Castelló.⁠ It’s all carefully paired with Cocktails, Wine, and one Limited Edition The Macallan Whisky. ⁠

The Corn Exchange have created their own Festival trail with Banyan, Roomz, Deli Haus and Vapiano all getting in on the action and allowing foodies to eat their way around the city’s “World of flavour’ under one roof. Open Kitchen is the People History Museum’s new cafe featuring sustainably sourced ingredients, ethical produce, delicious, seasonal menus and supporting communities with food insecurity. For the Festival they are hosting a wine tasting evening will match a beautiful range of wines with cheeses and small dishes. (£24 includes fizz on arrival, 2 samples of red and 2 samples of whites). Elnecot’s supper club will see the Ancoats restaurant collaborate with Its Alive, natural wine suppliers for a special feast with matched wines on Tuesday 21st September As a champion of local independent operators, Kampus have created a whole mini food festival, giving over their ‘bungalow’ space to some exciting events -see the MFDF website and app for full details…

Tine at The Bungalow, Kampus 16- 19th and 23rd- 26th September Tine will be bringing their elevated casual dining experience to The Bungalow at Kampus with a special five course menu created especially for MFDF . Serving up an exclusive five course set menu, expect unique umami tweaks on traditional British cuisine, inspired by the best produce the British Isles and Ireland has to offer To book Le Social Last Summer Wine Tasting Kampus canal-side bar Sunday 19th September 2021, 5pm: With summer coming to an end, local natural & organic wine experts Le Social are switching to warmer styles of wine and will be presenting creamy whites, savoury orange wines and comforting reds. Tickets include the tasting of 6 wines and snacks. £30.00 book here: Le Social Supernature Disco Kampus canal-side bar Sunday 26th September 2-9pm Dedicated to the party and fantastic drinks, Le Social host an all-day disco party with Supernature. Supernature Disco is a DJ Collective playing house and disco in Manchester and beyond. Free entry Le Social present The Low-Down 23rd September, 7pm – 9pm A celebration of low and no alcoholic drinks, hosted in a secret location at Kampus In collaboration with Stores Supply and Muri Drinks. A bar without booze sounds like an oxymoron, but Le Social invite you to a secret location in Kampus to drink the bar dry. A tasting event of the very best in low and no alcohol drinks. Tickets are £5.

City Life Stage Full Line Up The CityLife stage will feature a curated line-up of Manchester’s best local bands and musicians to provide the perfect soundtrack to your Festival. The highlights of the fabulous line up include…

Thursday 16th September Mr Wilsons Second Liners - 6.30pm and 8.30pm

Mr. Wilson’s Second Liners are revolutionary genre-bashers who knock traditional Second Lining sideways, opting for upbeat dance tracks over traditional hymns. Hot-stepping out in uniformed style, they channel the spirit of the 24-hour party people, guaranteed to get audiences dancing wherever they play. Friday 17th September City Life Present The Lottery Winners - 8pm. The City Life Night is a special Festival music night bringing the hottest local talent to the Festival hosted by the Manchester Evening News’ entertainment guide, City Life. This year the stage will be headlined by homegrown sensations, The Lottery Winners. From 8pm the band will be playing an exclusive acoustic preview ahead of their first Manchester Live gig at the Ritz on 25th September.

Saturday 18th September

The Covertones -6.30pm Stars of the North West covers band circuit, the group have picked up rave reviews performing all across the UK. All in one show you can expect indie and rock anthems, acoustic sets, reinvented 60s and 80s legends, some surprises.

Sunday 19th September Flat Cap Brass - 1.30pm and 2.30pm Flat Cap Brass are a friendly Northern seven-piece Funk Brass Band from Yorkshire. Fine Lines - 3:30pm

BBC 6 Music’s Mark Radcliffe heads to the Festival stage via his band)

Wednesday 22nd

Manchester legend Clint Boon brings his Boon Army spirit and sounds to the Festival stage for a feel good mid week set - the perfect soundtrack to the Big Chippy Tea taking place on the same evening.

Thursday 23rd

Dave Fidler

One of Manchester's favorite singer-songwriters and Festival favourites, Dave Fidler takes to the stage

Albert Schloss Stage Takeover

An evening of top class Schloss entertainment including Schloss house band and roaming performers

Saturday 25th

Gypsies of Bohemia Manchester’s first jazz manouche non-purists, Gypsies of Bohemia are an acoustic group who perform modern pop favourites like you’ve never heard them before. Sunday 26th September

Flat Cap Brass

Returning for the second weekend for more lively brass entertainment

Hattie Pearson

Girls On Film founder and Hits Radio Presenter will be playing her usual charismatic set to keep the Sunday vibes going

Make sure you don’t miss… With events selling out fast, grabbing the last few tickets to those events where there’s tickets left to sell is advisable! There’s still a few tickets for the Bull and Bear takeover at the Hub - a very special take on street food with the ultimate pub grub feast and a live music soundtrack to provide the perfect ‘pub at the hub’ atmosphere. At the MFDF Wine and Fizz Festival there’s a few tickets left for selection sessions so grab them while you can to enjoy amazing wines by some of the region’s finest and most exciting independent wine retailers in the stunning surroundings of Halle St Peters on Blossom Street.

Tuck into the City’s Biggest Ever Chippy Tea at the Festival Hub! It’ s free to enter and will be one big celebration of the region’s favourite meal courtesy of some of the best chippies in town. There’s no need to book - just walk up.

MFDF Awards Don't forget to vote for your favourite food heroes in the MFDF Awards via the MFDF website or the MFDF app.

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