THE Bolton Food and Drink Festival has attracted major sponsors who are enabling the event to get bigger — and better — every year, civic chiefs have said.

Bolton baker Warburtons and developers Bluemantle will be joined this year by Bolton College as the main sponsors of the festival.

Now in its sixth year, Bolton Council said the investment was key to ensuring the festival could continue to expand and improve.

Council leader Cllr Cliff Morris said: “It's our sixth year and we’re really pleased that we have another sponsor on board in Bolton College.

“Last year we had an estimated 75,000 visitors and we’re hoping that there will be even more this year.

“The backing of these key sponsors is also down to the relationship we have developed with businesses and other major organisations in Bolton and the surrounding area.”

Bolton College principal Marie Gilluley added: “With 50 catering and hospitality courses, and excellent new facilities at our Deane Road site, we’re rapidly becoming a first choice for learners looking to pursue a passion in this ever popular field. It was a natural decision for us to support the festival.”

North West-based property investment and development business, Bluemantle, sponsored the festival last year and is one of the joint venture partners behind the £148 million Church Wharf development in the town centre.

The festival will be opened by Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines this Friday.

There will also be live demonstrations by celebrity chefs the Hairy Bikers, Gino D’Acampo and James Martin.

A speciality market featuring local, regional and specialist traders will be open from 10am until 5pm throughout the four-day festival.

Topp Way multi-storey car park, in Bath Street, will be £1.50 all day and Deane Road multi-storey will charge £2 for four hours. Pay and display car parks managed by NCP and on-street parking are free on Sunday.