GET your tastebuds ready . . . today’s the day the biggest event of Bolton’s year gets under way.

The food stalls are open, the marquees are all set, and the Bolton Food and Drink Festival is open for business.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to descend on the town over the next four days.

This year there will be even more stalls selling food, drinks and crafts, live music, a gin festival, masterclasses, street performers and a fantastic family zone — and of course a line up of the country’s most famous chefs.

Today, Michael Caine will launch the festival, tomorrow The Hairy Bikers, Si King and Dave Myers ­will be riding into town, on Sunday the nation’s most famous greengrocer Gregg Wallace will be in the celebrity tent and on Monday, festival favourite James Martin will be the icing on the cake for festival goers.

There will also be daily free regional chef cookery demonstrations from 10am in Bolton Market. Last year, the festival attracted more than 274,000 people and the event won ‘Best Market Attraction’ at the British Market of the Year awards earlier this year.

The markets really are the centre piece of the festival, bringing the best food and drink from around the region and beyond.

Bolton Council’s Chief Executive, Tony Oakman, said: “What a line-up of amazing chefs for our brilliant event. The festival is one of the best in the country and the highlight of our events calendar. It has put Bolton on the culinary map and attracts hundreds of thousands to our wonderful town.”

Ruth Doyle, Regional Managing Director at Aldi, added: “This will be our fifth year supporting the Bolton Food and Drink Festival and we’re really proud to be a partner again this year."

See tomorrow's Bolton News for pictures and reports from the first day of the festival, and Monday's edition for another taste of more of the weekend's fun.