A HUGE barbecue festival is set to be even ‘bigger and better’ as it comes in for its third year.

The third Smoke and Fire Festival will be held from Friday, August 16 to Sunday, August 18 at Maldon’s Promenade Park.

The event attracted more than 18,500 hungry visitors last year and the attendance is set to rise to more than 20,000 food fans.

Visitors can expect to dine on a variety of grilled meats, buy homemade sauces and marinades and cool down with a drinks tent.

A new feature at this year’s event will be the launch party on Friday night which features headline act Doctor & the Medics and an exclusive barbecue banquet.

The menu for this is put together by John Gower and his team from Quiet Waters Farm in Devon.

During the festival, there are set to be 43 musical acts across three stages, and chilli and hot wing-eating competitions.

Festival organiser Ashley Bird said: “For one weekend in August, Promenade Park sizzles with the smell and smoke of barbecue.

“The festival is an alternative food festival which celebrates cooking using smoke and fire.

“Visitors can expect to get down and meaty with ribs, pulled meats, brisket, rotisserie chicken, smoky scents and sweet sauces – live-fire cooking at its best.

The festival has also been hailed as being one of the biggest of its kind in the UK.

It also has the international seal of approval from the Kansas City Barbecue Society – something that will turn up the heat on competitors from Europe and further afield taking part in this year’s trials.

Funds from the festival will go towards its chosen charity – the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance.

Tickets are £12 for the launch party and £30 for the banquet on Friday and can only be purchased online in advance.

Tickets at the weekend are £5 for adults and free for children.

For more details, visit smokeandfirefestival.com.