CHOCOLATE lovers are invited to descend on Ramsbottom for the town’s annual chocolate festival — which is billed as the biggest yet.

The Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival will take place on April 12 and 13 across the town centre, with all manner of chocolate-themed treats avail-able from more than 60 stalls.

The festival, which is led by Ramsbottom Business Group and is now in its fifth year, attracts thousands of visitors to the stalls across Bridge Street, Silver Street and in Market Place.

New for this year is a family fun area, which will be located in the gardens of St Paul’s Church, with family friendly stalls as well as entertainment including face painting and a bouncy castle.

There will also be an extended al fresco dining area in Silver Street, for people to take some time out from their cocoa-heaven and have a drink and a bite to eat.

This year’s festival will see a demonstration from Lancashire Hawks and Owls, and an appearance from food network Made in Lancashire, which will outline the benefits of supporting local food producers and of healthy eating.

Paul Morris, owner of the Chocolate Cafe and one of the organisers of the festival, said the future of the event was in doubt when Ruth Shedwick, one of the event’s organisers, moved to a different role at Bury Council.

He said: “We wondered whether we would carry on, because it is an awful lot of work.

“But we, as a business group, made a decision to do it, and it is going really well. We have had a lot of interest, and we will be able to make the festival pay for itself without dipping into the council’s coffers.

“It will generate money for the town which will help to pay for future events.”

The festival has become an annual fixture in the town’s calendar, alongside other key events such as Ramsbottom Festival, the 1940s Wartime Weekend and the Pie Festival. A range of weird and wacky chocolate themed products will be on offer, including chocolate flavoured beer, chocolate soup and chocolate tools from businesses across the town. Mr

Morris added: “It will be much bigger this year, we have got more traders and more room for people to get around. “A lot of it is dependent on the weather, but we are hoping that it will be the biggest and best festival yet.”

For more information about this year’s festival, visit ramsbottomchocolatefestival.