Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2021 dates, programme and everything you need to know

By Daisy Jackson

The Manchester Food and Drink Festival will be back in full force later this month, bringing together the city's finest hospitality businesses for a 12-day-long celebration.

Last year's event had to go virtual despite efforts for it to run in a socially-distanced format.

But the 2021 festival, its 24th edition, is gearing up to launch back at Cathedral Gardens, and in venues across Manchester.

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It's always one of the biggest dates in the city's food calendar, attracting some of the region's best chefs, producers and operators as well as thousands of visitors.

The whole thing will culminate in the MFDF Awards, recognising our outstanding local operators.

The Festival Hub will be open from September 16-19, and again from September 22-26.

It’s free to enter and no booking is required, although some tables within The Hub will be available to book over the two long weekends.

The full programme has now been released. Here's what you can expect from MFDF 2021.

When is the Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2021?

(Jody Hartley)

This year's MFDF will kick off on September 16, at both the Festival Hub and in venues right across Manchester.

Food and drink events will then fill the diary for almost two weeks, wrapping up in the MFDF Awards gala.

The celebrations will wind down on September 27.

You can vote for your favourite restaurants, bars, pubs and more in the MFDF Awards via the MFDF website or the MFDF app.

What street food is there?

MFDF's headline sponsors Just Eat will create their own Festival HQ at the Cathedral Gardens festival hub, with a rotation of street food operators.

The area will have swing seats, giveaways, and goodies including discount vouchers.

Beyond that will be masses of other street food offerings in the Festival Hub street food market.

Thursday September 16 - Sunday September 19

Vertigo Plant Based Eatery - Just Eat Festival HQ - bao buns with plant-based fillings, buffalo cauliflower wings, cinnamon 'baonuts', and churros.

Peck & Yard - Just Eat Festival HQ - chicken burgers, wings, and signature dishes - including the Pow Pow Stack topped with 'kimslaw' and vegan chicken options.

What’s Your Beef - locally and ethically sourced grass fed beef burgers.

Aunti Ji’s - bespoke dishes that capture the flavours of the East.

Grandad’s Sausages - bangers made in Bury.

Maison Breizh - Authentic Breton crêpes and galettes.

Oh My Glaze - wraps, wings and halloumi.

Mezze - Cypriot kitchen serving Mediterranean dishes.

Thursday September 23 - Sunday September 26

La Bandera- Just Eat Festival HQ -Spanish dishes including squid ink croquettes, sea and land paella, and mini Spanish burgers.

JJ's Vish and Chips - Just Eat Festival HQ - vegan chippy, with battered 'sosage', 'tofish' and chips, and 'scam-pi' and chips.

Halloumination - halloumi fries and halloumi burgers.

The Spinn - burgers.

I Knead Pizza - woodfired pizza and ‘pizza bites’.

Northern Soul - Grilled cheese sandwiches.

Mi & Pho - Award-winning Vietnamese bahn mi and pho.

Spoons Dessert - crepes with classic toppings.

What about to drink?

(Jody Hartley)

The Manchester Beer Bar at the Festival Hub will be erving the best beers from around the region, including Northern Monkey and Pomona Island Brewery, Burton Road Brewing, Bollington Brewery, Brightside, Blackedge, Thirst Class, Stubborn Mule, Bank Top and Silver Street.

Franklin and Sons will host a gin and tonic bar, while hard seltzer brand Truly will run a can bar of alcoholic sparkling water.

The programme of events

Kampus (Kampus)

A series of fringe events, as well as huge banquets and celebrations at the Festival Hub, have been put together for this year.

You can see details and book tickets for them all at foodanddrinkfestival.com/events/main-programme.

Tine at The Bungalow - September 16-19 and 23-26 - Kampus

Serving up an exclusive five course set menu, expect unique umami tweaks on traditional British cuisine, inspired by the best produce the British Isles and Ireland has to offer.

MFDF Wine and Fizz Festival - September 17-18 - Halle St Peters

(© Daniel Hopkinson 2020)

Some of the region’s finest and most exciting independent wine retailers and brands will take part in this year's Wine and Fizz Festival.

Attendees can taste their way through dozens of incredible wines from around the globe, with retailers including South Manchester wine delivery service Decent Drop, Prestwich’s Grape to Grain, and UKiYO Republic showcasing Japanese Sake.

Le Social Last Summer Wine Tasting - September 19 - Kampus

With summer coming to an end, local natural and organic wine experts Le Social are switching to warmer styles of wine and will be presenting creamy whites, savoury orange wines and comforting reds.

£30 tickets include the tasting of 6 wines and snacks.

Bull and Bear takeover - September 20 - Festival Hub

Tom Kerridge's renowned Manchester restaurant The Bull and Bear will be taking over the Festival Hub for one night only, with a pop-up pub grub concept.

There'll be a three course supper designed especially for the occasion, including a braised beef and blue cheese pie, and live music to soundtrack the evening.

Tickets will cost £55, which includes all your food.

MFDF x Eat Well Dinner - September 21 - Mana

(Manchester Evening News)

Taking place at Mana, Manchester's only Michelin star restaurant, this special dinner will bring together some of the most innovative chefs in town, each preparing a course.

That means Mana's Simon Martin, District's Ben Humphries, The Creameries' Mary-Ellen McTague, The Walled Garden's Eddie Shepherd, and Erst's Anna Søgaard.

There are only 26 tickets available, priced at £200 per person, and it's all to raise money for Greater Manchester’s amazing social enterprise, and Festival partner, Eat Well.

Elnecot Supper Club - September 21 - Elnecot

This local Ancoats restaurant will collaborate with It's Alive, natural wine supplies, for a special feast.

Manchester's biggest chippy tea - September 22 - Festival Hub

(Supplied)

A mammoth chippy tea feast from some of the region's best fish and chip shops and restaurants - and it's free.

Featuring Anchors of Didsbury, Hip Hop Chip Shop, plant-based JJ's Vish and Chips, Street Urchin, and Lord of the Pies. with A Few Scoops' pink tuk tuk serving alcohol-infused ice creams for dessert.

Schlosstoberfest - September 23 - Festival Hub

Albert's Schloss will be bringing a huge Oktoberfest celebration at MFDF, serving Bavarian street food throughout the evening.

Expect bratwursts, pretzels and wild Schloss-style live entertainment. It's free, and there's no need to book.

Tast Tasting Menu - September 23 - Tast

A five-course dinner at Tast, in association with Macallan Whisky, designed to take you all the way to Barcelona with a touch of Scotland.

The evening will feature a five course tasting menu created especially for MFDF by executive chef Paco Pérez and head chef Julià Castelló.⁠

Sustainable Wine Evening - September 23 - Open Kitchen at the People's History Museum

(Manchester Evening News)

Social enterprise Open Kitchen will host a wine tasting evening for the festival, matching a range of wines with cheeses and small dishes.

It's £24, including fizz on arrival, two samples of red and two samples of whites.

The Low-Down - September 23 - Kampus

A celebration of low- and no-alcoholic drinks, hosted in a secret location at Kampus by wine experts Le Social.

It's a collaboration with Stores Supply and Muri Drinks and tickets are £5.

Le Social Supernature Disco - September 26 - Kampus

Dedicated to the party and fantastic drinks, Le Social will host an all-day disco party with Supernature Disco, a DJ collective playing house and disco in Manchester and beyond.

Live music at the CityLife Stage

(Jody Hartley)

Mr Wilsons Second Liners - September 16

Mr. Wilson’s Second Liners are revolutionary genre-bashers who knock traditional Second Lining sideways, opting for upbeat dance tracks over traditional hymns.

Hot-stepping out in uniformed style, they channel the spirit of the 24-hour party people, guaranteed to get audiences dancing wherever they play.

CityLife presents The Lottery Winners - September 17

The CityLife Night is a special festival music night, hosted by the Manchester Evening News and CityLife, bringing the hottest local talent to the festival.

This year the stage will be headlined by homegrown sensations, The Lottery Winners.

From 8pm the band will be playing an exclusive acoustic preview ahead of their first Manchester live gig at the O2 Ritz on September 25.

The Covertones - September 18

Stars of the North West covers band circuit, the group have picked up rave reviews performing all across the UK.

All in one show you can expect indie and rock anthems, acoustic sets, reinvented 60s and 80s legends, and some surprises.

Flat Cap Brass, and Fine Lines - September 19

Flat Cap Brass are a friendly Northern seven-piece funk brass band from Yorkshire.

Later in the day, BBC 6 Music’s Mark Radcliffe heads to the festival stage with his band.

Clint Boon - September 22

Manchester legend Clint Boon brings his Boon Army spirit and sounds to the festival stage for a feel good mid week set - the perfect soundtrack to the Big Chippy Tea taking place on the same evening.

Dave Fidler - September 23

One of Manchester's favourite singer-songwriters and festival favourites, Dave Fidler takes to the stage.

Albert Schloss Stage Takeover - September 23

An evening of top-class Schloss entertainment including the Schloss house band and roaming performers.

Gypsies of Bohemia - September 25

Manchester’s first jazz manouche non-purists, Gypsies of Bohemia are an acoustic group who perform modern pop favourites like you’ve never heard them before.

Flat Cap Brass - September 26

Returning for the second weekend for more lively brass entertainment.

Hattie Pearson - September 26

Girls On Film founder and Hits Radio Presenter will be playing her usual charismatic set to keep the Sunday vibes going.

The MFDF Artisan Markets

Free to enter and open from midday until 7pm each day of the Festival Hub, the MFDF Artisan Markets will showcase some of the region's best independent food and drink producers, makers and businesses.

Thursday September 16 - Sunday September 19

Chorlton Bread Co - Serving handmade plant-based , sourdough bread and cookies all the way from Chorlton.

Cafe Cannoli - Bringing handmade, authentic Sicilian cannoli to the festival.

DevilDog Sauces - Small batch chilli sauces and seasonings made right here in Manchester.

Cocoa and Bloom - Beautiful, sustainable, handmade chocolates made with natural fresh fillings.

Chorlton Cheesemongers -Quality farmhouse and artisan handmade cheeses, chutney and pickles.

Manchester Cheesecake Co - Homemade, locally produced small batch cheesecakes in an array of amazing flavours.

Eat Well - Limited edition hampers containing the finest artisan produce from a hand selected bunch of the best indie food heroes.

(Marni V Photography)

Bread Flower - Handmade bagels and seasonal bouquets from MFDF Award-nominated new local producers Bread Flower.

Twisted Wheel Beer Co - Craft Beer brewed in the North West and celebrating the spirit of Northern Soul.

Prestwich Gin - Locally produced, award nominated, small batch gin.

O’Donnell Moonshine - Handcrafted spirits and liqueurs presented in glass jars.

Jack Berry - Gluten free and speciality flours and bread mixes; raw, natural honeys and seeds.

Thursday September 23 - Sunday September 26

Companio Bakery - Fresh sourdough loaves.

Paradiso Authentic Italian - Freshly made, authentic Italian desserts.

Chorlton Cheesemongers - Quality farmhouse and artisan handmade cheeses, chutney and pickles.

Eat Well - Limited edition hampers containing the finest artisan produce from a hand selected bunch of the best indie food heroes.

The Gourmet Brownie Co - Handmade gooey brownies.

Ribble Valley Gin - Small batch, multi award winning gins.

HM Pasties - Pies and pasties handmade in Bolton with the social mission of reducing re-offending by employing people with criminal convictions.

Crozier Drinks - Professional, premixed artisan cocktails.

O’Donnell Moonshine - Handcrafted spirits and liqueurs presented in glass jars.

Cheap eats around Manchester for MFDF

(JeanCazals2016)

Several of Manchester's best-loved restaurants will be throwing together special offers and discounts for the duration of MFDF.

Some will require you to show the MFDF App - you can see all the details and terms at foodanddrinkfestival.com/offers.

20 Stories - a three-course set festival lunch, served Monday-Thursday, for £23.50.

Vapiano - fresh pasta and pizza with 20 per cent off.

TNQ Restaurant - four-course special festival menu, including a glass of Taittinger champagne, for £50.00.

Impossible - 20% off food and drink.

Nibble NQ - £5 coffee and cake deal.

Peru Perdu - 10% discount on the total bill.

Fitzgerald - two vintage cocktails for £12 + live music all day on Fridays.

Hula - two Zombies for £10.

Quarter House and Man With The Fish - 25% off the full bill for festival-goers.

The Mouse Trap - special cheese and wine tasting experience for MFDF, £20 per person.

The app

The brand new MFDF app will act as a digital ‘on the go’ festival programme with app users able to browse the full festival programme, reserve a table at the Festival Hub and vote in the MFDF awards too.

It also unlocks discounts across Manchester.

The app can be downloaded in the apple and android app stores by searching ‘Mcr Food and Drink Festival’.

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