Smoke billowing from hot pans, exotic smells of wild boar hotdogs wafting in the air and celebrity chefs cooking food to the sound of loud rock music marked the return of the Belfast Taste and Music Festival.
Hundreds of visitors made their way to Botanic Gardens yesterday for the opening of the five-day culinary event.
Well-known chefs, including several familiar faces from the BBC show the Great British Menu, manned the food stalls, rustling up tasty treats for the hungry crowds.
Award-winning chef Danny Millar, from Balloo House, said he was expecting to be busy over the next few days.
“Things like this are weather dependent, but hopefully the sun will stay out and the crowds will keep coming,” he said.
Danny’s menu included traditional Irish pork crubeens (boiled pigs' feet) and Strangford crab and avocado salad. He said: “This event is a great way to showcase the best of good, local produce.”
Next door, Derek Creagh’s bite-size burgers were proving popular, while fish fans headed straight to the Mourne Seafood Bar to try out Andy Rea’s salt and chili squid.
Niall McKenna, of James Street South restaurant, said he would have to bring more chefs along as he hadn’t expected to be so busy.
“It’s just kicked off and already we’re sweating here, and they’re expecting around 30,000 over the next few days,” he said.
At the Loft Coffee Bar stall, the eye-catching, mouth-watering cupcakes were attracting a lot of attention.
Claire Murray, from the Moygashel-based company, said she was not surprised at their populairty. “Cupcakes are like the fairy buns we used to make with our mums, so of course everyone loves them,” she said.
Tucking into one of the cupcakes, Crossgar teenager Emma Dunne said she would definitely return to the festival.
“I made a beeline for the cupcakes” she said.
“It’s my first time here but I think I’ll come back later this week.”
Also enjoying the sunshine, music and food were Gillian and Jason Walsh from Limavady and their children Dylan (7) and Lauren (5).
Gillian said: “It’s a great idea to have an event like this.”