Grillstock Festival Manchester: The meat-eater’s dream

Kate Feld
Posters on corrugated iron, advertising Grillstock.

Grillstock returns to Manchester in June, bringing the art of the barbeque back to Albert Square.

Yeah! Nothing says summer like throwing some raw animal flesh on a hot grill. What? Oh, yeah… Sorry vegetarians. Erm, actually guys, you might want to go take a short walk. Go treat yourself to a halloumi and bean burger somewhere. Because Grillstock is a festival dedicated to the celebration of barbecue in its myriad forms. Their slogan is “meat, music and mayhem.”

Last year’s event – their first outside the Grillstock home base in Bristol – was surprisingly mayhem-free. It was all quite civilised, with teams of grill geeks competing in the BBQ competition, fussing over their char and comparing brining methods under a big marquee in the middle of Albert Square. Around the edges were an array of street food sellers, grill trade salesfolk, craft beer bars, cooking demonstrations and a couple of stages where a nicely varied line-up of performers provided a soundtrack to the day.

Their slogan is “meat, music and mayhem”

This year Grillstock rolls into town on 28-29 June. Competitive eating, that weirdest of spectator sports, gets some festival time with chilli pepper, hot dog and hot wing eating contests. Musically, 25 acts will perform over two days with an emphasis on US-inflected blues, country and rockabilly. Funk-rock band Vintage Trouble top the bill Saturday night while Hayseed Dixie, who’ve attracted an international following with their bluegrass covers of hard rock classics, headline Sunday. And, last but not least, there’s always the barbecue competition for entertainment.

As ever in Manchester, sunshine will be the key ingredient to the festival’s success – so let’s all pray to the carnivore gods for fine weather. There’s nothing sadder than barbecuing in the rain.

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