IT'S a couple of years or more since music guru Pete Waterman called in for a pint at the Bent and Bongs Beer Bash.

But you never know who you might bump into at one of the region's premier beer festival.

Now in its 24th year the annual event has so far raised a staggering £370,477 for local charities and next week's event at the Formby Hall, Atherton could take it to the £400,000 mark.

"We strive to give the money to organisations which are locally based thereby supporting the community that supports the Festival," said Beer Bash spokesman Paul Coggan.

This year's three day festival open on Thursday, January 31 with further sessions on Friday, February 1 and on the afternoon and evening on Saturday, February 2 at the Rose Leisure Formby Hall, Atherton.

To accommodate the expected Friday rush the opening hours have been altered. The beer festival starts with a sponsors session at 5pm on Thursday with the public admitted from 6 pm till 11pm.

On Friday the event is open from 4pm until 11pm and Saturday's sessions are noon until 4pm and 7pm until 11pm.

Last years main beneficiary was the Marfan Association UK, this year it will be Childflight.

As usual there will be music and food available at all sessions along with the vast selection of Real ales, Cider and Lager both draught and bottled.

As this is the 24th year of festival fun the favourite brews served up over the past 24 years have been chosen to head the liquid line-up.