Foodies soak up the sunshine in Millennium Square as Leeds Food & Drink Festival opens

Blazing sunshine has hit Leeds this weekend as the Leeds Food & Drink Festival opens on Millennium Square.

Friday, 28th June 2019, 3:57 pm
Claire Macklam and Dan Gore, of the Beetle Juice cocktail van, serving up drinks at the Leeds Food & Drink Festival
Claire Macklam and Dan Gore, of the Beetle Juice cocktail van, serving up drinks at the Leeds Food & Drink Festival

The free, three-day event is run in partnership with Leeds City Council and the Yorkshire Evening Post and sponsored by supermarket Aldi.

Gates are open from 11am to 8pm on Friday, and will open again from 11am to 8pm on Saturday. On Sunday, the festival will open from 11am to 4pm.

Claire Macklam and Dan Gore, of the Beetle Juice cocktail van, serving up drinks at the Leeds Food & Drink Festival

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Crowds basked in the sunshine at the festival today, enjoying the food and drink on offer from dozens of stalls.

The food ranges from Thai, Indian and Lebanese street food, to sweet treats like brownies, ice-cream and waffles.

Live music will be playing throughout the weekend and the weather is set to get hotter, with temperatures rising to 30 degrees on Saturday.

Clark Davies, owner of Clark's Kitchen, selling halloumi fries and burgers at the festival.

Clark Davies, 28, launched Clarke's Kitchen two years ago and is selling halloumi fries and halloumi burgers from his van this weekend.

He said: "I used to work in recruitment and I hated it, so I needed a change. I ended up opening the van at a couple of festivals, then it took off.

"We have got a choice of sauces with our halloumi fries, like tzatziki, sweet chilli or onion chutney.

"Our burgers are made of a big chunk of halloumi in a brioche bun with different sauces inside, peri-peri, yoghurt or onion chutney.

Ryan Wadsworth, of Jones Pies, tucking into a pork pie.

"It's a really good event here. We have travelled up from Bournemouth, because we knew it would be worth the drive."

Jack Wadsworth, 25, and brother Ryan Wadsworth, 22, are manning the Jones Pies stall this weekend.

The Yorkshire-based company are selling a range of pork pies using local ingredients.

Jack said: "Everyone in Yorkshire loves pies, so hopefully we'll sell lots today.

Joe Wills (left), owner of The Ox Box burger van, with brother Alfie Wills (right).

"We have already started quite well, we've got nine different flavours so hopefully that intrigues people to come and try one.

"The Yorkshire chorizo pie will probably be our biggest seller. It's made of pork and chorizo grounded up together and then minced through.

"Everyone seems to love it so we've got extra of that to sell today."

Several stallholders are brand new to the business, including Joe Wills, 25, owner of The Ox Box.

Joe is based in Ripon, North Yorkshire, and launched his burger van less than a month ago.

He is being helped this weekend by his 16-year-old brother, Alfie Wills.

Mark Robinson (left) and Chris Murphy (right) enjoying the festival on their lunch break.

Joe said: "We started about a month ago, this is only my second event. I used to be a chef, but I fancied doing my own thing and making my own food.

"Hopefully it goes down well this weekend. The 'porky blinders' burger is always a favourite - it's a six ounce patty, topped with slow cooked pulled pork, barbecue sauce and then pickled onions and cheddar."

The festival was already proving popular with Leeds workers taking a lunch break.

Chris Murphy, from Rodley, and Mark Robinson, from Calverley, work at StepChange debt charity in the Merrion centre.

Chris said: "It's a great event. I've got a 'porky blinder' burger and some truffle fries.

"They're really good and it definitely beats the average burger. It's back to work after this!"

Sehrash Ali, 27, a medical secretary at Leeds General Infirmary, was enjoying the food with colleague Emma Stoyles, 28, a data manager at the hospital.

Sehrash said: "It's a really nice atmosphere, plus the weather is lovely. We thought we would visit on our break and I'm glad we came out rather than sitting at my desk.

"We've just tried the halloumi fries, then we're eyeing up the brownies to try after. We also tried some chocolate champagne, which was amazing."

Another visitor, Michelle Milner, had travelled over from Sheffield for the event.

She said: "It's my first time here, we saw the event on Facebook and thought we'd pop up.

"I think it's brilliant, I'd recommend it to anybody.

"We've had a bratwurst for our dinner and now a cocktail, then we'll be wandering around a bit longer this afternoon, having a few more drinks."

Where is the festival and how can I get there?

Millennium Square is a ten minute walk from Leeds train station, walk straight up Park Row and cross the Headrow. Continue straight across Great George Street and Millennium Square is ahead.

A number of bus routes run to the Headrow nearby.

The nearest parking is at The Light car park, accessible via Great George Street. ?Price: £7 between 6pm - 9am.

24 hour, 7 days a week parking is available at Woodhouse Lane car park. Price: £2 for 2 hours, ?£4 for 3 hours, £6 for 4 hours, £7 for 12 hours.