SPIRITS were high as gin and rum fans headed to Steam to savour what was described as the UK's largest gin and rum festival.

The atmosphere was buzzing within a couple of hours of opening on Saturday morning as drinkers tried the different flavours

It was the second visit to Swindon for festival organisers and this time they had brought more than 60 different flavours of gin and rum.

More than 15,000 visitors flowed through the doors and some had travelled from far and wide for the opportunity to sample the event's wares.

Sharon Bowen, 50, had made the trip from Carmarthen in Wales to try it out. “This is my second time coming to the festival and so far it has been really good.

“I like getting to try different gins without having to buy a lot of bottles," she said.

“Blockman’s was a really good stand, they made an amazing drink, it was like three different drinks in one.”

Sharon had brought her daughter Tinaya Leigh-Cattrall to the event. “It’s actually my first time here and it has a really nice atmosphere, I’ve enjoyed the music.

“I didn’t really know what to expect but it’s been very nice. It was good to see a local gin here which was the Tickle Drinks which are based in Swindon .”

Tickle Drinks, based in Kembrey Street in Upper Stratton, opened two years ago.

It offered its original gin and its raspberry bakewell gin served with fresh fruit to taste.

Matt Rees, 36, of West Swindon was a newcomer to the event. “It’s my first time here and so far I'm two thirds into my drink and it tastes pretty good.

“I had no expectations for today but I’m very glad it’s inside because the weather is terrible, so if anything it has exceeded my expectations.”

Claire Donnell, 51, of Old Town went to the event for the second time. She said: “I’ve been to the one last year which was just a gin festival. I like that it’s now gin and rum because my friend likes rum and I like gin so we get to enjoy it together.”

The events manager Donna Brady got the festival up and running two years ago. She said: “Last year we did a total of 18 festivals and this year we are doing 30. This is our second time in the town and we knew it would go down like a storm like it did last time.

"It was originally a gin festival but we wanted to attract more men and that’s why we have included rum.”