THE prestigious York Festival of Food and Drink is to return to the city for an eighth year.

The gastronomic feast of fun will take place from September 10 to 19, and organisers promise a number of firsts.

The Festival Food Theatre will now offer refreshments using only the finest regional produce and there will be a number of debates on nutritional and farming topics, such as obesity, pesticides, and careers in food.

Chefs already confirmed to take part in the festival include Raymond Blanc, Martin Blunos, Peter Gordon, Anton Edelmann and Alex MacKay.

Sponsors of the event include the Evening Press.

Festival manager, Debbie Lovatt, of First Stop York, said: "The York Festival of Food and Drink has grown into an event known for first-class food and entertainment. This year the festival will move to a new level of excellence."

More information about the festival can be found on the official website:

The Romans are also returning to York.

Following the success of last year's inaugural Roman festival, organiser Keith Mulhearn has announced details of a bigger celebration in July.

Events will take place from Friday, July 23, to Sunday, July 25, and will include a demonstration of soldier skills, dancers and musicians, Roman cooking, crafts and a living history camp. A week-long festival is planned for 2006 to celebrate the 1,700th anniversary of the emperor Constantine being crowned in the city.

Gillian Cruddas, chief executive of York Tourism Bureau, said: "The Roman festival is a fantastic edition to York's growing calendar of events. Traditionally we have benefited greatly from our Viking connections and perhaps have not promoted our Roman heritage as much as we could."

Updated: 10:21 Monday, May 24, 2004