One of the region’s top food festivals is going ahead this weekend, with organisers putting the final touches to a programme guaranteed to get stomachs rumbling.
The popular County Durham event made a comeback in October last year with an impressive line-up of star guests, food producers workshops and entertainment. The weekend will see hundreds of traders set up shop across Bishop Auckland town centre ready to share everything from street food to artisan produce and locally-brewed beverages with visitors.
The 2019 food festival attracted more than 29,000 guests to the region and it’s also seen as being a key part of Durham County Council’s bid to become the UK City of Culture 2025 – for which it has now made the final four shortlist. Here’s a guide to what’s in store.
Read more: Sam Fender, George Ezra and the Bishop Auckland Food Festival: Things to look forward to in the North East
What is Bishop Auckland Food Festival?
The event, run by Durham County Council, is a celebration of the best of local food and drink. It showcases a huge range of regional produce, alongside worldwide food, to festival-goers over its weekend run.
It also has a programme of activities, workshops and talks for visitors to get involved with. Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships said: “There is so much on offer from delicious dishes and demonstrations to family entertainment, so we’re encouraging everyone to come down and see what they can discover.
“Bishop Auckland Food Festival is one of the most popular food events in the North East, and a highlight in the county’s events calendar. We know that people look forward to returning year after year, which showcases that the county has a cultural programme that fully supports its bid to become UK City of Culture 2025.”
Where and when is Bishop Auckland Food Festival?
The festival will run over the weekend of April 23 – 24 across Bishop Auckland Market Place and Bondgate. The new car park space will be a temporary home for more traders and will also host the outdoor cookery theatre.
Cookery workshops, for which there’s more information below, will take place in the Town Hall. You can download a map of the festival through the website.
What are you looking forward to most about the Bishop Auckland Food Festival? Let us know in the comments below!
Who is on the line-up at Bishop Auckland Food Festival?
Chris Bavin, presenter of Eat Well for Less, will host both days at the Cookery theatre, where celebrity chefs will be doing cooking demonstrations.
Saturday April 23
Crystelle Pereira (10.30 and 13.30)
Born in London to Kenyan born, Portuguese-Goan parents, Crystelle Pereira has amassed a loyal following on social media of audiences both in the UK and US since getting to the final of the Great British Bake Off last year.
Matt Pritchard (11.30 and 14.30)
Former Dirty Sanchez frontman turned vegan chef Matt Pritchard is hoping to use his passion for food to show people how they can eat healthily and sustainably. He released his debut cookbook Dirty Vegan in December 2018 along with a TV series of the same name of BBC 1 Wales, which was followed up with a second series and another cookbook.
John Whaite (12.30 and 15.30)
John Whaite won the third series of the Great British Bake off and more recently finished runner up in the 19th series of Strictly Come Dancing. He runs his own cookery school in the heart of rural Lancashire, and his fifth book A Flash in The Pan was published in 2019.
Sunday April 24
Karen Wright (10.30 and 13.30)
Great British Bake Off star Karen Wright will be doing cookery workshops for adults and children in Bishop Auckland Town Hall. From Stromboli to focaccia, fruit crumble and naan bread, she’ll be sharing her skills and knowledge on both days of the festival – with tickets costing £7 for adults and £5 for youngsters.
Mike Bartley (11.15 and 15.40)
Local favourite Mike Bartley appeared on MasterChef in 2021. Since appearing on the BBC cooking show, he has been involved in several cooking enterprises including hosting private dining evenings and working on a proposal for a recipe book based on foraged ingredients.
Chigs Parmar (12.00 and 14.15)
Chigs is a self-taught baker and huge foodie who incredibly only learned to bake during the first Covid lockdown. He was a finalist alongside Crystelle in the 2021 series of Great British Bake Off but both lost out to eventual winner Giuseppe Dell’Anno.
Philli Armitage-Mattin (12.45 and 15.00)
Masterchef finalist Philli Armitage-Mattin has worked in Michelin Star kitchens in Tokyo, Hong Kong and the UK. She won over the BBC show’s viewers with her take on Asian-inspired recipes tailored to the Western palette.
What sort of food will be on offer at Bishop Auckland Food Festival?
There will be food and drink on sale at around 140 stalls including local favourites such as Weardale Cheese, the Mad Jam Woman and the Northumbrian Sausage Company. There’s also a range of street food and bars with everything from Cuban, Armenian and Lebanese delicacies, to burgers, loaded fries and Yorkshire pudding wraps too.
For a full list of traders taking part, see here.
Anything else I need to know?
It’s free to get onto the festival site. Dogs are allowed but it’s recommended that they’re kept on a lead.
Visitors are encouraged to plan their journey ahead of the weekend. There will be an accessible park and ride service which runs between Bishop Auckland College and the town centre, with buses departing from 9:30am on both days and the last return buys going from Newgate Street at 17.30 on Saturday and 16.30 on Sunday.
Return tickets cost £2 for adults, 50 pence for children aged 4 – 15 and are free to those under 5. Town centre car parks will be open but are expected to be busy, and there are road closures due to the event (diversions are in place).
For more information, visit the festival website here.