Manchester Food and Drink Festival has burst back to life under sunny skies in the city centre - after a year's hiatus due to the coronavirus lockdown.

And bosses are hopeful it could be a bumper return with fine weather predicted for the next two weeks as the festival gets underway.

The main festival hub has returned to its mostly outdoor site at Cathedral Gardens, next to the Urbis building, with plenty of new features this year as well as returning favourites.

READ MORE: Bundobust's second Manchester restaurant with a brewery inside is now open

There's a raft of outdoor seating options, as well as the covered beer tent where the CityLife live music stage will be hosting bands, musicians and DJs over the next ten days.

The opening night of MFDF saw a busy start under sunny skies

New this year is an artisan food and drink market showcasing a raft of incredible local food operators with everything from handmade chocolates to cheeses, bagels, sauces, beer and gin.

There are also a raft of vegan options at this year's event - including the dedicated Meatless Farm Barn serving up vegan burgers, hot dogs and pittas.

What street food is there?

MFDF's headline sponsors Just Eat have created their own Festival HQ at the Cathedral Gardens festival hub, with a rotation of street food operators.

The area boasts huge swing seats, giveaways, and goodies including discount vouchers.

Venture further into the hub for the sights and sounds of a range other street food offerings in the Festival Hub street food market.

Thursday September 16 - Sunday September 19

Vertigo Plant Based Eatery - Just Eat Festival HQ - bao buns with plant-based fillings, buffalo cauliflower wings, cinnamon 'baonuts', and churros.

Peck & Yard - Just Eat Festival HQ - chicken burgers, wings, and signature dishes - including the Pow Pow Stack topped with 'kimslaw' and vegan chicken options.

What’s Your Beef - locally and ethically sourced grass fed beef burgers.

Mouth-watering burgers at MFDF

Aunti Ji’s - bespoke dishes that capture the flavours of the East.

Grandad’s Sausages - bangers made in Bury.

Maison Breizh - Authentic Breton crêpes and galettes.

Oh My Glaze - wraps, wings and halloumi.

Mezze - Cypriot kitchen serving Mediterranean dishes.

Maison Breizh at MFDF

Thursday September 23 - Sunday September 26

La Bandera- Just Eat Festival HQ -Spanish dishes including squid ink croquettes, sea and land paella, and mini Spanish burgers.

JJ's Vish and Chips - Just Eat Festival HQ - vegan chippy, with battered 'sosage', 'tofish' and chips, and 'scam-pi' and chips.

Halloumination - halloumi fries and halloumi burgers.

The Spinn - burgers.

I Knead Pizza - woodfired pizza and ‘pizza bites’.

Northern Soul - Grilled cheese sandwiches.

Mi & Pho - Award-winning Vietnamese bahn mi and pho.

Spoons Dessert - crepes with classic toppings.

What about to drink?

Plenty to drink at this year's MFDF festival

The Manchester Beer Bar at the Festival Hub will be serving the best beers from around the region, including Northern Monkey and Pomona Island Brewery, Burton Road Brewing, Bollington Brewery, Brightside, Blackedge, Thirst Class, Stubborn Mule, Bank Top and Silver Street.

You can expect to be paying from £4 a pint, while wine is from £4.50 a glass and soft drinks £1.50.

Drinks at MFDF

Franklin and Sons are host a gin and tonic bar, while hard seltzer brand Truly have a can bar of alcoholic sparkling water, and there's a cider bar on site too.

Special events

Manchester's biggest chippy tea - September 22 - Festival Hub

A mammoth chippy tea feast from some of the region's best fish and chip shops and restaurants - and it's free.

Featuring Anchors of Didsbury, Hip Hop Chip Shop, plant-based JJ's Vish and Chips, Street Urchin, and Lord of the Pies. with A Few Scoops' pink tuk tuk serving alcohol-infused ice creams for dessert.

Schlosstoberfest - September 23 - Festival Hub

Albert's Schloss will be bringing a huge Oktoberfest celebration at MFDF, serving Bavarian street food throughout the evening.

Expect bratwursts, pretzels and wild Schloss-style live entertainment. It's free, and there's no need to book.

There are more special events happening at restaurants across the city, to find out more click here.

Live music at the CityLife Stage

Mr Wilson's Second Liners on the CityLife stage

Live performances kicked off on the opening night with a star turn from Mr Wilson's Second Liners at the CityLife stage.

And there is plenty more to come in the coming days.

CityLife presents The Lottery Winners - September 17

The CityLife Night is a special festival music night, hosted by the Manchester Evening News and CityLife, bringing the hottest local talent to the festival.

This year the stage will be headlined by homegrown sensations, The Lottery Winners.

From 8pm the band will be playing an exclusive acoustic preview ahead of their first Manchester live gig at the O2 Ritz on September 25.

The Covertones - September 18

Stars of the North West covers band circuit, the group have picked up rave reviews performing all across the UK.

All in one show you can expect indie and rock anthems, acoustic sets, reinvented 60s and 80s legends, and some surprises.

Flat Cap Brass, and Fine Lines - September 19

Flat Cap Brass are a friendly Northern seven-piece funk brass band from Yorkshire.

Later in the day, BBC 6 Music’s Mark Radcliffe heads to the festival stage with his band.

Clint Boon - September 22

Manchester legend Clint Boon brings his Boon Army spirit and sounds to the festival stage for a feel good mid week set - the perfect soundtrack to the Big Chippy Tea taking place on the same evening.

Dave Fidler - September 23

One of Manchester's favourite singer-songwriters and festival favourites, Dave Fidler takes to the stage.

Albert Schloss Stage Takeover - September 23

An evening of top-class Schloss entertainment including the Schloss house band and roaming performers.

Gypsies of Bohemia - September 25

Manchester’s first jazz manouche non-purists, Gypsies of Bohemia are an acoustic group who perform modern pop favourites like you’ve never heard them before.

Flat Cap Brass - September 26

Returning for the second weekend for more lively brass entertainment.

Hattie Pearson - September 26

Girls On Film founder and Hits Radio Presenter will be playing her usual charismatic set to keep the Sunday vibes going.

The MFDF Artisan Markets

Chorlton Cheesemongers are already a big hit at the MFDF artisan market

Free to enter and open from midday until 7pm each day of the Festival Hub, the MFDF Artisan Markets will showcase some of the region's best independent food and drink producers, makers and businesses.

Thursday September 16 - Sunday September 19

Chorlton Bread Co - Serving handmade plant-based , sourdough bread and cookies all the way from Chorlton.

Cafe Cannoli - Bringing handmade, authentic Sicilian cannoli to the festival.

DevilDog Sauces - Small batch chilli sauces and seasonings made right here in Manchester.

Cocoa and Bloom's Darcy Anderson

Cocoa and Bloom - Beautiful, sustainable, handmade chocolates made with natural fresh fillings.

Chorlton Cheesemongers -Quality farmhouse and artisan handmade cheeses, chutney and pickles.

Manchester Cheesecake Co - Homemade, locally produced small batch cheesecakes in an array of amazing flavours.

Eat Well - Limited edition hampers containing the finest artisan produce from a hand selected bunch of the best indie food heroes.

Bread Flower - Handmade bagels and seasonal bouquets from MFDF Award-nominated new local producers Bread Flower.

Twisted Wheel Beer Co - Craft Beer brewed in the North West and celebrating the spirit of Northern Soul.

Prestwich Gin - Locally produced, award nominated, small batch gin.

O’Donnell Moonshine - Handcrafted spirits and liqueurs presented in glass jars.

Jack Berry - Gluten free and speciality flours and bread mixes; raw, natural honeys and seeds.

Thursday September 23 - Sunday September 26

Companio Bakery - Fresh sourdough loaves.

Paradiso Authentic Italian - Freshly made, authentic Italian desserts.

Chorlton Cheesemongers - Quality farmhouse and artisan handmade cheeses, chutney and pickles.

Eat Well - Limited edition hampers containing the finest artisan produce from a hand selected bunch of the best indie food heroes.

The Gourmet Brownie Co - Handmade gooey brownies.

Ribble Valley Gin - Small batch, multi award winning gins.

HM Pasties - Pies and pasties handmade in Bolton with the social mission of reducing re-offending by employing people with criminal convictions.

Crozier Drinks - Professional, premixed artisan cocktails.

O’Donnell Moonshine - Handcrafted spirits and liqueurs presented in glass jars.

Get the latest What's On news - from food and drink to music and nightlife - straight to your inbox with our daily newsletter.