YORK'S popular Food Festival is set to return to the city next month - aiming to "embrace community spirit and culinary excellence".

The Food Festival, returning from September 22 until October 1, has announced its forthcoming 26th anniversary, promising a celebration of "gastronomy and community vitality", organisers said.

The program is now live on the festival website - and features a range of events from cookie tours and food trails to the city's best pork pie.

Festival director, Michael Hjort, said: "We want to run an event that celebrates local talent and is run by and for the York community. The world is full of food festivals these days - what's different about York is that it's not a couple of guys off TV and a market brought in from anywhere."

York Press: The festival will feature a range of stallsThe festival will feature a range of stalls (Image: York Food and Drink Festival)

At the festival's core lies the 'Food Factory' where visitors of all ages can indulge in cookery workshops, free of charge. These workshops aim to not only educate but also inspire. The Schools Program is set to welcome 1,200 students at no cost to schools, hoping to ignite a passion for homemade, wholesome and locally sourced cuisine.

On August 27, the festival will host a special Refugee Day, run by Yahala Mataam. This event aims to foster cultural exchange through food, music and storytelling, as visitors unite in the celebration of diversity and inclusivity.

The Food Trails will feature a full day of nibbles and a gentle walk around the city, uncovering hidden gems. New for 2023, the team are introducing the Cookie Tour, an addition for the young visitors.

York Press: There will be two music stages at this year's festivalThere will be two music stages at this year's festival (Image: York Food and Drink Festival)

This year, St Crux Hall hosts additional stands, overall there are more than 80 stands throughout the festival.

For the first time, the Live for St. Leonards Music Event has two stages – the main stage in the Entertainment Marquee in Parliament Street and a new acoustic stage in the York Gin enclosure on St Sampson's Square.

On August 28, the festival will mark the 70th anniversary of the twinning between York and Dijon. The Dijon stand, a centrepiece of the festival, will feature demonstrations, sales and sampling of culinary delights from Burgundy. 

The Grand Hotel is working with the festival to promote its cuisine and the wines of Burgundy at a celebratory dinner to which the team and the festival have invited the visiting Mayor of Dijon and the Lord Mayor of York on August 29.

York Press: This will be the Food Festival's 26th anniversaryThis will be the Food Festival's 26th anniversary (Image: York Food and Drink Festival)

Local businesses’ involvement spans from hosting festival events within their premises to active participation in demonstrations, tutoring, tastings and occupying stands at the festival.

Visitors can anticipate a programme of informal food and drink tastings in the demonstration area and at St Crux - featuring demonstrations and tastings by Brew York, Ippuku Tea, Love Cheese, York Gin and more.