DRINKERS were spoilt for choice more than ever before, as York's largest beer and cider festival opened on Knavesmire.

The annual event, organised by the York branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, began yesterday afternoon and continues until Saturday.

This is the fifth time the festival has been held on Knavesmire and this year's range is the biggest yet, with 404 beers including around 280 from Yorkshire, 104 ciders, many from elsewhere in the UK and an increased selection of bottled and foreign beers.

Several Yorkshire breweries took entire bars at the event, including Tockwith-based Rudgate, who also brought an army of Vikings in a longboat, in line with some of their Viking-themed beers.

BBC Look North newsman Harry Gration was the official guest of honour last night and many of the brewers represented were also there, to showcase their beers.

Matt Grant, York Camra chairman, said he was delighted with the beer range and was looking forward to a successful few days, hopefully attracting more people a last year.

The marquee is on a slightly higher part of Knavesmire than last year, to minimise the chance of disruption if it rains.

Mr Grant said: "It's a better spot and is visible from Tadcaster Road and hopefully that will get more passing trade coming in."

LocAle category winners

Beers under 4% - York Blonde
Beers 4-4.4% - Five Towns Ashes
Beers 4.5-4.9% - Kirkstall Three Swords
Beers over 5% - Brass Castle Sunshine
Dark beers over 4% - Wharfebank Treacle Toffee Stout
Speciality beers - Great Heck Amish Mash