THOUSANDS of people enjoyed a drink or two at this year's York Beer and Cider Festival.

The annual event started on Knavesmire on Wednesday, with good numbers despite terrible weather, and ended under peaceful blue skies on Saturday.

This year marked the tenth anniversary of the festival, which included more than 500 beers, 100 ciders and perries, and Europe's longest bar - measuring up at more than 266 feet, and taking up the entire length of the massive marquee.

Nick Love, beer writer and communications manager for the festival, said this year's festival had seen a huge increase in advance ticket sales, and the number of visitors was expected to be similar or higher than last year's event.

He said: "We've noticed a lot of changes since we first started. We were a very small festival then, probably 200, 250 beers, now we're 500, 550 beers. Also, the marquee has got a lot bigger, and we're delighted to be in the enclosure which is part of York Racecourse.

"This year we've had a 50 per cent increase in ticket sales, and that's great because people now like the attraction of being able to go through a fast track queue into the festival, get their glass and get drinking and imbibing.

"Visitor numbers will probably be the same or slightly higher than last year, despite the weather. We've had a couple of days where it's absolutely rained incessantly but we still think we're going to be up and one of the advantages of having such a huge marquee and Europe's longest bar - which is 266 feet long - is you can accommodate most people very easily, so even in the worst weather, we found that people were perfectly happy sitting down supping their beer and really having a great chat."

Nick said he was also pleased with developments made with this year's festival, including international interest and online success.

He said: "The other thing we're pleased about is that we've done an exchange scheme with Maine, on the east coast of America where they've supplied us with six wooden barrels of beer which we will sell and then fill with great Yorkshire ale and return."

"It's a great festival to come to, we were delighted that TripAdvisor named us as one of their top ten attractions to go to in the UK in September and again we've been named as one of Yorkshire's best beer festivals as well so we're delighted to be here and we've got every intention of being here next year."