THE CITY’S annual food festival has got off to a flying start with traders reporting a busy first day.

Worcester's Mayor Jabba Riaz resisted eating any of the tasty temptations while walking around Worcester Food Festival today.

The city councillor is currently observing the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims are not allowed to eat after sunrise or before sunset.

However, Mr Riaz still handed out food and leaflets at the event and praised the three-day festival for bringing people into Worcester.

He said: "This event has grown from strength to strength year-on-year.

"It's a fixture on the calendar that I look forward to. It brings tourists from across the region to our beautiful city. Tourists also go out and inspect other areas of the city.

"It's even more important after the news we heard yesterday with House of Fraser deciding not to reinvest in the city."

Cllr Riaz said that while he was very tempted by the food at the festival he could not indulge as he is currently fasting.

He added: "The first few days of Ramadan are quite difficult in terms of your body getting used to fasting but after a while it's a godsend in terms of spirituality and repairing your body."

Phoebe Dawson, the manager of Worcester Business Improvement District (BID), which organises the event, said the first day of the festival had been a stunning success.

She said: "We have had some really good feedback from traders and visitors. It was a far busier Friday this year.

"It's been fabulous, yesterday was so busy compared to a normal Friday."

She added that most of the stalls were offering freebies, such as a food sample or a shot.

Richard Barber, chair of the board of directors at Worcester BID, said the festival results in extra business for the city even after the event ends.

"Through the experiences people have today we will cement in their mind Worcester as a destination of choice for eating, drinking and then retail," he said.

"We believe the success of these events are seen through the success of Worcester all year round."

Stewart Bulman, general manager of Boston Tea Party, in Broad Street, Worcester, also praised the festival.

He said: "I've done it for years, we come out here and let people try our lovely coffee for free.

"This year we had to adapt as we don't have take away cups. We now do 'ecoffee cups', we sell them and give away free coffee with the cup."

Mr Bulman added that Boston Tea Party replaced its single-use cups with 'ecoffee' equivalents across the country on June 1.

Customers can pay for a temporary cup in-store and then get their money back if they return it to a Boston Tea Party shop.

More than 60 food and drink stalls are taking part in this year's Worcester Food Festival, which started on Friday and ends on Sunday.

The event also involves free cookery demonstrations in the city centre.