The bustling streets of Manchester came alive with the aromas and flavors of global cuisines, as Europe’s largest halal food festival returned for its second edition. Thousands descended upon Bowler’s Exhibition Centre in Trafford on Saturday, drawn by the allure of halal delicacies from corners far and wide.
Approximately 15,000 food enthusiasts converged at the venue, painting a vivid tapestry of culinary exploration. Bilal Khan, the visionary behind The Halal Food Festival, expressed his elation to the Manchester Evening News, remarking, “Our inaugural event last year garnered a heartwarming response. And this year, we’ve witnessed the appetite for such a festival expand, crossing cultural and culinary boundaries.”
The Exhibition Centre was a hive of activity, with its indoor segment dedicated to halal lifestyle brands ranging from fashion to home décor. An ‘Artisan Market’, curated by the ‘Muslim Instashop Expo’, became a beacon for attendees, spotlighting intricate arts and crafts, bespoke delicacies, and beauty essentials.
But the festival’s pièce de résistance was undoubtedly its expansive outdoor area. Here, a gastronomic journey awaited, with stalls serving halal Vietnamese pho, tantalizing Japanese fusion dishes, hearty Palestinian meals, traditional Pakistani offerings, and vibrant Caribbean flavors.
Reflecting on the festival’s overwhelming success, Khan enthused, “The response has been so heartening. We’re seriously contemplating a three-day affair next year.”
For Manchester, the festival was more than just about food. It was an embrace of diversity, an opportunity to demystify halal and shed preconceived notions. Khan emphasized, “This festival’s essence is to break boundaries. Halal is gaining mainstream traction, and we want everyone, regardless of background, to come, savor, and dismantle any stereotypes surrounding halal food and the Muslim community. For us, celebrating means coming together over a meal.”
Halal, an Arabic term signifying ‘permissible’, primarily governs dietary practices in Islam. It mandates the humane and ritual slaughter of livestock, invoking the name of Allah during the process.
While Manchester played host to this grand fête, it’s not alone in its celebration. The London Halal Food Festival, typically slated for September, is another magnet for gourmands, reinforcing the universal appeal and joys of halal cuisine.