Bishop Auckland Food Festival returns to the town this weekend, bringing celebrity chefs, street food traders, live entertainment and fun family activities.

The festival, organised by Durham County Council, will take over the town’s marketplace from 10am to 5pm this Saturday and 10am to 4pm this Sunday.

Last year’s event pulled in a record 30,000 visitors, and people attending this year are being encouraged to travel by public transport or use the park and ride service.

Around 140 traders from County Durham and beyond are expected at the hugely popular festival, including 20 new faces.

They’ll be selling everything from banging burgers and katsu curries to local cheeses and chutneys, with plenty of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy free options too.

Five celebrity chefs will treat the audience to cookery demonstrations throughout the weekend.

Saturday’s fun kicks off with 2022 Great British Bake Off star, Janusz Domagala, who will be cooking at 10.30am and 1.30pm.

He’s followed by bestselling cookery writer and TV chef, Rachel Allen, at 11.30am and 2.30pm, with ITV This Morning’s Phil Vickery appearing at 12.30pm and 3.30pm.

Getting Sunday’s demonstrations off to a flyer is last year’s Bake Off runner-up, Sandro Farmhouse, who takes to the cookery stage at 10.30am and 1.10pm.

MasterChef 2018 winner, Kenny Tutt, will follow at 11.20am and 2pm, with Janusz returning for a second day of cooking at 12.20pm and 3pm.

There’ll also be live music, family-friendly craft and spray painting workshops and street theatre featuring dancing ‘grannies’, human hedges, singing waiters, and chefs on stilts.

The Auckland Project is getting in on the act too, hosting a children’s dinner party at No.43 in the Market Place, plus Spanish Gallery-inspired art activities in Auckland Tower.

An accessible park and ride service shuttling visitors between Bishop Auckland College (DL14 6JZ) and the town centre will be in operation throughout.

Buses will run from 9.30am on Saturday and Sunday, with the last return bus running at 5.30pm on Saturday and 4.30pm on Sunday.

Return tickets cost £2 for those aged 16 and over and 50p for children aged five to 15, while under fives travel free.

Town centre car parks will be open but may be busy and some town centre roads will be closed for the event.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “Festival weekend is upon us and we’re fully expecting a great turn out.

“The festival has established itself as a firm favourite in our annual events calendar, and rightly so. It brings the town to life, bringing people together to have fun, try some sensational food and drink, and enjoy a great family day out.

“We’ve got a fantastic offer this year, with around 140 traders selling a huge variety of the finest food and drink out there, including cakes, curries, coffees, cheeses, gins and jams and pretty much everything in between.

“We’ve got celebrity chefs showing off their skills and cooking up all kinds of mouth-watering dishes. And we’ve got a packed programme of family activities and entertainment that’ll bring a smile to people’s faces.

“A huge amount of hard work goes into organising events like this and the many others we host. We’re really looking forward to welcoming everybody to Bishop Auckland this weekend.”

Bishop Auckland Food Festival is just one of the many cultural events taking place in County Durham this year, cementing Durham’s position as the ‘culture county’ and demonstrating the council’s ongoing commitment to culture-led regeneration.

This includes delivering key projects within County Durham’s shortlisted UK City of Culture bid; progressing major capital projects and raising the county’s profile as a fantastic place to live, work, visit and invest.

Bishop Auckland Food Festival is supported by Bishop Auckland Town Council and Durham County Council’s Towns & Villages programme.

To keep updated on all the latest Bishop Auckland Food Festival news visit the event’s website and follow its social media channels.