Back in 2008, Paul Morris, owner of The Chocolate Cafe in Ramsbottom, had an idea of creating a chocolate market in the picturesque market town. Collaborating with Bury Council, the quirky festival launched in 2009 with just twelve stalls on Market Place around the town’s iconic urn sculpture.
Nine years on and the festival has grown year on year. It’s now a two day event over the weekend running up to Easter with countless market traders and shops from across the region setting up stalls selling the very best in artisan chocolate and sweet treats. The event has become so popular it was named Best Small Event at the Manchester Tourism Awards 2012.
An unusually hot weekend last year saw an unprecedented number of visitors attending and the event was deemed a Health & Safety risk as tens of thousands of people flooded Bridge Street, with fears this year’s event would be cancelled.
But thanks to the intervention of council leader Rishi Shori, the festival has been given the go ahead with a wider footprint and more stewards appointed for crowd control, giving visitors access to the whole town centre.
This year’s organiser Terri Fletcher is thrilled the weekend is going ahead.
“If it hadn’t been for the support from Rishi Shori things may well have been different. He really got the festival back on track, and as a result of his amazing input it will actually be much better for visitors. With us widening the footprint it will be a much more accessible, comfortable and spread out affair, with everyone being able to take in all the town has to offer as well as the chocolate stalls themselves.”
As well as stalls selling high end chocolates on the market, more unusual retailers will be taking part in the weekend including the Great British Cheese Company with some rather unexpected cheesy chocolate offerings. and the Ramsbottom Soap Co who have created chocolate bath bombs especially for the festival.
The family-friendly two day event will also feature live music, street food stalls, prosecco bar and a fun-truck indoor play area. Highlights will include a visit from Willy Wonka and the Oompa Loompas with some song and dance routines thrown in and family photo opportunities. And do visit The English Chocolate Fountain Company as remember ‘no other factory in the world mixes its chocolate by waterfall!’
Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival Saturday 8th April 10am – 4pm Sunday 9th April 10am – 4pm. Free entry.