A record breaking 12,000 people flocked to enjoy a smorgasbord of world cuisine, alfresco dining and live music in the sunshine at the fifth annual Croydon Food Festival (Sunday, 26th June).
Visitors enjoyed fabulous street food and fine dining served by more than 70 stalls and restaurants along South End, Croydon's famous restaurant street.
Foodies were delighted with the range of dishes on offer, from French and English cuisine to Caribbean and south east Asian. There was entertainment for the whole family with three stages hosting live bands, DJs, soloists and choirs, as well as face painting and street entertainers for the kids.
The new Mayor of Croydon, Wayne Trakas-Lawlor formally opened the Festival at 12pm, before touring the event with his partner and consort, Michael Trakas-Lawlor.
"I am enormously impressed by the amount of work that has gone into making this amazing event such a success," said the Mayor, whose theme for his year in office is 'Business, Arts and Culture.'
"The number of businesses who've got together with the local community to put on this magnificent event is amazing, and really good news for Croydon.
"It's now in its fifth year and I think that tells you everything you need to know about how it has grown - I hope it becomes bigger, badder and even better in the future. It shows the future is bright - and the future is Croydon."
Linda Arthur, chairman of South Croydon Business Association and owner of Bar Txt declared the 2016 Festival was the best ever.
"This was a record-breaking Food Festival, attracting businesses and foodies to the Restaurant Quarter from all over Croydon and beyond," she said.
"It was a fabulous day – there was such a great atmosphere, with brilliant food and entertainment. And the icing on the cake was the wonderful weather. I want to thank all our sponsors – particularly Menta-Redrow – and everyone who came along to enjoy the day for supporting us. It would not be possible without you."
"This year we showcased a wonderful and diverse selection of Croydon food operators and entertainers, from all parts of the Borough. This really shows how much the whole of Croydon has to offer and I am sure that the 12,000 visitors were all amazed by what we had to offer. Many visitors attended on the recommendation of friends and family who have been in previous years and this word of mouth recommendation has helped the Festival to be more successful than ever. Hopefully we will be entertaining Croydon visitors and residents for many years to come"
Meat the Chef owners Christian George and Steve English said: "We had a great day – we must have served more than 300 people before we sold out!"
"It was our first festival and we thought we had brought enough food, but we'll know better next time. We will definitely be back next year!"
South Croydon resident Gerald Sintim, brought his wife Linda and children Jevan, 5, and Therese, 7, to the festival: "We've seen so many friends here today - it's lovely to have such a great community event. The food's been delicious and the entertainment has been just great."
Joe Wegener and Ann Charles added: "It's the third festival we've been to – we just live around the corner – so we are big fans. It's been a great day again. We love the Restaurant Quarter and always bring our family and friends here to eat. It's brilliant to have this on your doorstep."
Peter Bagatti, of the South Croydon Business Association and owner of Bagattis Restaurant: "It was a superb day and definitely the best we have had so far.
"What a great advert for Croydon to have an event like this – everything went so smoothly. People – families, couples - were out in their thousands with smiles on their faces and really enjoying themselves. It just shows you what can be done when businesses and the community come together."
Malcolm John, Chef Patron of Brasserie Vacherin and SCBA member added: "It's been another great food festival, which is great for Croydon and all that Croydon has to offer. It keeps getting better and better and really brings the community together."
Richard Sunderland, of sponsors the Croydon Partnership who had a stall at the event, said: "This was my first time here before and it's been fantastic – there's been a really good turnout, and a great atmosphere."
Croydon business Jam 'n' Jerk, who specialised in Caribbean dishes, were queued out solidly all day. Owner Bob Reid said: "The festival is getting bigger and better every year. The White Label team who organise it are terrific and make everything go so smoothly for us."
Paul Pratt from Sanderstead brought three generations of his family along. He said: "It's a really nice event – we saw it was again on Facebook and came along. It's been a lovely day. The food is excellent, and the atmosphere is really good."
Singer songwriter Georgie Kellar, on the Beats 'n' Eats stage summed up the atmosphere by saying: "I really enjoyed performing here – there is a great energy and everyone's having a good time."
Among the acts providing top class music across the three stages, were John Butler's Penny Fathers, Tenyson, Pop Choir, Da Groove Station, and Bekah King, who all had the crowds clapping and dancing along. Croydon's premier live music venue Scream Lounge also showcased hotly-tipped music acts.
In addition to Menta-Redrow, the sponsors included were the Croydon Partnership, London Borough of Croydon, Bagattis Restaurant, Bryden Johnson Partnership, Streets Ahead Estate Agents and Quantum.