FOOD lovers in their thousands have been out in force enjoying a taste bud-tickling bank holiday weekend.

Dubbed the ‘gastro glasto’ the Foodies Festival has returned to Oxford for another year.

Food stalls have set up camp for the three-day fiesta which falls against the backdrop of the picturesque views in South Park.

The event has become a culinary staple in Oxford’s foodie diary over the last 10 years, with the festival usually attracting around 25,000 people.

The Oxford Times:

This year is no exception, and festival organiser Sue Hitchen said the first day has already ‘exceeded the expectations’.

She said: “There were people queueing before 11 o’clock this morning in the glorious sunshine – it’s a tenth anniversary scorcher!

“It’s exceeded our expectations. Local beer and ciders have been a bigger contingent this year and it’s going down really well. Generally speaking, it’s been a success.”

Other local businesses Shellfish Cow and Cranston Pickles were also at the festival for the first time this year.

Read again: What to expect from Oxford's foodie festival this weekend

Fiona Cranston, the head pickler at the Oxford-based pickle company said: “It’s been really good, it’s lots of fun.

“I started this business a year ago, so this is my first time here and it’s going really well; people are really liking the pickles.”

Neil Wornham from Shellfish Cow based in Wallingford was also representing Oxfordshire.

He said: “It’s the biggest festival and food event that we have done and it has been received really really well.

“Lots of people are here and it’s a nice atmosphere.”

This year the festival boasts live music from chart-topping band and Scouting for Girls and a hearty helping of celeb-star chefs.

The Oxford Times:

On the back of Oxford’s success, the organiser explained that the festival will be expanding its programme next year to cover other areas in the UK.

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It’s already based in eight other cities in the UK, but in 2020 fesitval organisers hope to make it ‘bigger than ever before’.

Ms Hitchen added: “It’s the gastro Glastonbury. The blend of music and food seems to make it so popular!”

After looking at ticket sales she revealed that the festival had drawn in quite the crowd to the Headington area.

She explained: “The tickets have been bought by people from Scotland, Wales and even America.

“It’s putting Oxford on the food map.”

Visitors will also be treated to a feast of entertainment, with Oxford University student and MasterChef runner up Nawamin Pinpathomrat among the famous names cooking live.

An unexpected treat for visitors will be Crème de la Crème bake off winner Mark Tilling – who has joined the line-up at the last minute.

Other Oxfordshire chefs will also share their signature dishes and the famous chilli eating challenge will draw up the usual crowds – brave-food lovers are urged to come forward and put themselves hot under the collar by trying some of the hottest peppers.

The festival will be cooking up a storm until the 6pm on Monday.

Tickets can still be purchased online at foodiesfestival.com/oxford-food-festival