TRADERS have welcomed the return of the Bolton Food and Drink Festival as they set up their stalls.

About 130 stands with food from around the world will line the streets of Bolton town centre for the next three days.

Laura Splaine of Edgworth-based company Holden’s Ice Cream has attended the festival for the past four years and said she was excited for the next few days.

She added: “It’s going well for a Friday, usually Friday is the slowest day but it’s the busiest it’s been for years.

“Of all of the shows we go to this is the best, the people are so friendly and there’s a great camaraderie between the other traders.

“We always do well out of the festival — we do more expensive festivals, like Chatsworth, but people in Bolton spend more.”

Sellers from Dalesbread Finest Meat travelled from Littledale near Lancaster.

Owner Carole Brown told The Bolton News: “It’s a really good festival, and there is a lot of regulars who come back every year.”

Mari Bari was manning the stall at Lakeland Picnic, a hot food vendor from Cumbria selling ethically-sourced burgers.

She said: “We had a stall here last year. It’s great.

“The staffing here has been very good — there are lots of staff coming around checking on us, asking if we’re okay and if they can get us more water.

“It’s very good for us.”

Thousands of people have already visited the festival.

Horwich resident Wendy Hennessey said the atmosphere at this year’s event was the best yet.

She added: “There’s more live music this year, which adds to the festival feel and it’s something the young people will like.

“We went to one of the free demonstrations in the new refurbished Bolton Market, which was really great, and we’re going to look into the Market Place.”

Andrew Davison travelled from Bury to attend the Food Festival on Friday.

The 55-year-old said: “We’ve been for the last two years because we think it’s great — we look for it now every year to see when it’s coming.

“I like to look at all the different stalls.

“I don’t know what the other towns food festival are like but this is brilliant for Bolton.”