Oh mio Dio! It’s finally here! Festa Italiana – a weekend-long festival celebrating all things Italian – has finally announced the full lineup for the Bank Holiday event. And it’s pretty magnificent.

Coming to Manchester’s Cathedral Gardens from 27th-29th August, Festa Italiana is ready and raring to thrill Manchester locals with a taste of Italy, accompanied by a monumental lineup for local traders.

 From workshops to cooking classes, to just straight up great food – this free event deserves a rightful place on your calendar. Read on to find out what’s cookin’…

Food – It’s no secret that Manchester’s Italian community is one of the richest in food offering in the country – with family-run restaurants such as Salvi’s and Pasta Factory reigning over the boroughs and delivering authentic Italian cuisine to Mancs everywhere. Now, the festival has invited local Italian-inspired eateries to accompany them in a weekend-long celebration of fresh pasta, Neapolitan pizza, homemade desserts, and so much more.

Top of the bill is Café Cannoli – a firm Festa fave – who will be selling traditional cannoli made from ingredients imported from Sicily itself! Paradiso Authentic Italian will also be there to satisfy your sweet tooth – serving up traditional tiered tiramisú made from only the freshest local produce. We’ve got our eye on NQ Sicilian’s offering, however, as they will be dishing out artisan gelato and stuffed brioche gelato sandwiches. (Are you drooling yet?)

If sweets aren’t your thing, local pizza joint I Knead Pizza will be selling slices of their wood-fired Neapolitan pizza (with vegan options too), alongside long-time Festa lovers Proove pizza. For the pasta lovers: Wire favourite Pasta Factory have designed a menu of authentic Puglia Italian pasta dishes – 100% handmade with love, and 100% one of the best meals you’ll ever have.

Other mouth-watering additions to the lineup include Eccles street food vendors Lucky Mama’s, who are bringing their signature sweet and savoury dough balls and fresh pasta too, and Sicilian stars T’arricrii – who will be selling their staple arancini balls and Sicilian delicacy Fritto Misto (battered prawns and baby octopus). Tre Ciccio will also be there with their traditional Italian Deli stall – the perfect place to get all your authentic Italian produce – and, of course, Salvi’s will be scooping the show with their immensely popular festival dish: Pizza Fritta (a pocket of Neapolitan-style dough which is fried and stuffed – a bit like a calzone).

As well as a variety of street food, Festa Italiana will also be throwing a banquet, cooked by some of the best Italian chefs in the country. In partnership with Parmigiano Reggiano, two legendary TV chefs will be joining Maurizio Cecco from Salvi’s Italian and Fran Scafuri from Tre Ciccio to deliver a huge feast for guests, as well as a Q and A experience. Tickets for this can be found here.

Drink – With all those saucy carbs, you’re going to need something to wash it down with. So, it’s lucky that the festival has lager brewery Peroni as a primary sponsor, with barrels and barrels of the stuff just waiting to be drank. Birrificio Angelo Poretti will also be selling craft Italian beers from the Piageo Bar, while the main festival bar delivers all the classic cocktails and tipples – including Negronis, Aperol Spritz, Limoncello Spritz (in partnership with Limonce), prosecco and a range of San Pellegrino softs for the young ‘uns.

Entertainment – You’d think that was enough, but Festa Italiana isn’t finished yet. Not only have they flown over traditional Naples folk-rock band Compagnia Sole Luna to play for the entire festival, there will also be film screenings of Romeo and Juliet, Cinema Paradiso, and La Dolce Vita – courtesy of Peroni’s pop-up portable cinema, complete with bean bags, deck chairs, and even popcorn. What better way to wind down after a full day of eating then with a pint and a free movie?

For those looking to get a bit more stuck in, there are also a series of cooking workshops and family masterclasses across the weekend. On Friday 27th, Sienne Cecco will be hosting a cooking class for children, teaching them how to make simple Italian dishes with ease. The 12-year-old chef is the daughter of Salvi’s owner Maurizio Cecco and already has own YouTube cooking channel, so we reckon she’s probably quite the teacher. On the same day, Julia Martinelli from Pasta Factory will be putting on her own masterclass, teaching kids how to make their own pasta.

Across the rest of the weekend, the celeb factor has been turned up a notch, with celebrity chefs Gennaro Contaldo (of Two Greedy Italians & Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast), Giancarlo Caldesi (of Return to Tuscany & Sunday Brunch), and Aldo Zilli (of The One Show, This Morning & Celebrity Masterchef) teaching their own masterclasses and signing autographs across the rest of the festival. Don’t forget your cookbooks!

The festival is completely free to enter, with no need to book whatsoever (unless you fancy the banquet). So just rock up, grab some authentic grub, and celebrate the bank holiday the Italian way.

Fri 27 Aug - Sun 29 Aug, Cathedral Gardens ,
Corporation St, Manchester M4 3BG
, FREE, 11am-11pm daily
Sophie Cunningham
Published on:
Wed 25 Aug 2021