EUROPE’S longest bar opens for business in York next week as the York Beer and Cider Festival gets into full swing.

Hundreds of volunteers will be manning the event, Yorkshire’s largest such festival, with 550 beers and ciders on offer along the 250-feet bar.

The festival takes place on Knavesmire from Wednesday, September 18 to Saturday, September 21, with organisers expecting up to 12,000 people as weather forecasters predict sunshine. Ticket sales so far have come from as far afield as Canada and New Zealand.

Festival communications manager Nick Love said preparations were going well.

Highlights include a nine per cent beer aged in a whisky cask for two years by Half Moon Brewery at Ellerton to crowd favourites.

“We will have 300 Yorkshire beers at the festival, the most assembled in any one place,” said Nick. “It is a major celebration of Yorkshire brewing and everything that is great about Yorkshire and enterprise. The vast majority of these breweries are micro breweries. They are small enterprises.”

“The beer festival by size and the choice is the largest of its kind in Yorkshire, and the largest outside festival in the north of England.

“Over four days it houses Europe’s longest bar by a country mile. It is around 250 feet in length.”

The event will be run by 200 volunteers, all members of CAMRA, he said, with some travelling from around the UK to help. York alone has 1300 members.

“No one gets paid,” said Nick. “It is a labour of love. Commercial operations as big as this would take an awful lot of organisation let alone one staffed by volunteers. This is our eleventh on Knavesmire.”

He said they had won a reputation for being incredibly competent at organising events, and had given talks within CAMRA on how to organise beer festivals.

“Over 11 years we have gone from learning on the job to being super efficient. Everyone has a role and a job description. They are standing on the shoulders of giants; people who have done it before are passing on their expertise.”

He added: “It is a six-figure sum to put this beer festival on. We don’t aim to make a massive profit.

“The profit we do make goes back into CAMRA.”

The event is family and dog friendly with children admitted free and welcome until 8pm. There will be live music, wandering magicians, face painting and traditional bar billiards tables.

There will also be beers from all over the British Isles, from Orkney Brewery down to Harbour Brewery in Cornwall, along with more than 30 KeyKeg beers, foreign beers, world wines, meads, Prosecco and, for the first time, York Gin, alongside 110 ciders from 20 counties.

Street food vendors will be offering cuisine to suit all tastes.

A special return Pullman Bus Service 198 will operate throughout the day from opposite York Station directly to the festival site every hour from 11.30am.