KATHERINE MacALISTER previews the chocolate festival coming to Oxford this weekend.

Move over Willy Wonka, Oxford is hosting its first ever home-grown chocolate festival right here in Broad Street this weekend.

And with free tastings, cooking, celebrity chefs and sampling to be had, this is as much fun as you can have outside the chocolate factory.

So with Easter and all things chocolatey just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to get stuck in.

On hand will be some of the finest names from the world of chocolate. So not only can you sample the delights of master chocolatiers Damian Allsop, inset left, and Paul Wayne Gregory, right, but watch them in action too.

The Chocolate Festival also offers a rare opportunity to meet some of the world’s best chocolatiers in one place and even learn how to become a chocolate connoisseur at a tutored chocolate tasting session. Or just wander and wonder at the 50 stalls selling all things chocolatey from around the UK, including local companies Chocolate World, Craddocks Cream, Narna’s Chocolates, Duffy’s Red Star and The Cotswold Chocolate Company from Oxfordshire.

And if you think you know enough about chocolate already, then think again. Because you will be encyclopaedic in your chocolate knowledge by the time they’re done with you. From savoury chocolate dishes to dipping doughnuts, chocolate liqueurs, chocolate pancakes, plus cakes, biscuits, bonbons, fudge, coffee, macaroons and much, much more, you can never know too much.

Plus it’s free to all.

Yael Rose, main picture, the organiser and brains behind the whole operation, says Oxford is the perfect location for her newest festival.

“Oxford is one of those cities where people like to go as a destination because it’s so vibrant, and while chocoholics will be flocking, people will also stumble across it, and anyone who comes across it by mistake thinks they’ve died and gone to heaven,” she laughs.

With similar festivals being run in London and Brighton, it’s a well tried and tested formula that has the crowds flocking. And when you check out the line-up it’s not hard to see why.

* Go to festivalchocolate.co.uk for more information