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Soon the New Year will be upon us, and with it a new range of beer festivals. It is unusual for 'A Swift One' to promote Camra beer festivals but the New Year opens with the 'National Winter Ales' festival, over the hills in Manchester.

It starts on the evening of Wednesday 19th January 2011 and runs through till Saturday 22nd with full day sessions from Thursday onwards. The venue is a short distance out of Manchester itself, at the Sheridan Suite up Oldham Rd, a few minutes out of the Northern Quarter.

That's enough of a plug for the main event, but often, running in parellel with the larger festival, the pubs in the area host their own smaller festivals, and, in my opinion, are far more worthy of a visit. I am usually well clued up by this time to know what is happening where but due to the the recent inclement weather I have been unable to visit for my research visit, (if you know what I mean !) so at present I am in the dark as to who is holding what and when but hopefully some of the more adventurous pubs should be holding their own festivals during this time. If not, the bigger festival promises a range of 200 + beers and ciders to sample.

Make a date and see what is available, and start the 2011 festival season early.