This year’s Bishop Auckland Food Festival (BAFF) is to begin with a blessing from the Right Reverend Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham.

The Bishop – together with Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration and culture, Neil Foster – will welcome visitors and traders to the festival, which takes place on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd April.

Amongst the many stalls, workshops and masterclasses laid on for the thousands of foodies attending the festival, there will be a new event. In Saint Anne’s Church, in Bishop Auckland’s Market Place, there will be a Celebration of Holy Feasts.

This event will highlight the special significance of food and feasts in the Christian tradition, a significance that goes all the way back to the times of the Bible.

The event will explore the religious connotations of breads, wines and oils, and there will be displays focusing on Passover meals, the Last Supper, Holy Communion, and Good Friday and Easter foods.

There will also be a Feasts for the Hungry Stall, which will be selling Fairtrade produce, taking donations for a food bank and giving advice on avoiding food waste.

The Bishop of Durham said, “Food is something which unites us in many ways, and the sharing of food and hospitality is a tradition that as Christians we honour to this day.”

“I am therefore delighted to be opening the Bishop Auckland Food Festival, which draws thousands of people each year to celebrate food in all its glory.”

“Christian heritage is synonymous with the history of Bishop Auckland, so it is lovely to see elements of those traditions brought together with this contemporary celebration of food through the market and masterclasses that BAFF is so renowned for.”

Cllr Foster said, “This is a fantastic addition to the festival, which attracts thousands every year and is always popular with food lovers and families.”

“There is always a buzz in Bishop Auckland during BAFF.”

“In particular, this new event brings a keen sense of social conscience: providing information on reducing food waste, donating to food banks and celebrating the communities of County Durham.”

The Bishop Auckland Food Festival this year will feature an expanded food and artisan drinks quarter, stalls selling local County Durham produce, numerous children’s activities and a bus tour of foodie hotspots in the county.

There will be fine foods to sample from around the world, and many masterclasses and workshops, including some given by royal chef Rob Kennedy.

Entertainment will include bands from Durham’s BRASS festival performing in the Bish and Hop, a Bavarian-style beerhall. On Saturday night, the Big Comedy Feast event will be headlined by the I, Daniel Blake star Dave Johns.

To purchase tickets or find out more about the Bishop Auckland Food Festival, please visit www.bishopaucklandfoodfestival.co.uk.

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