Festa Italiana at Cathedral Gardens

Ian Jones, Food and Drink Editor
Festa Italia

25 — 27 August 2023 Entrance is free

Festa Italiana Manchester is the country’s biggest festival designed to celebrate Italian food, drink and culture. Now in its sixth year, it’s easily one of Manchester’s most popular events with over 38,000 visitors flocking to last year’s superb – and sunny – fun-packed event.

It all takes place across Manchester’s Medieval Quarter, filling Cathedral Gardens with Italian producers, chefs, food, drink and music.

Best of all, it’s free, and you can expect the UK’s best Italian food traders, an array of high-quality Italian drinks, a banquet hosted by celebrity Italian chefs, cooking demos, family-friendly activities and more.

There’s a huge line-up of events and masterclasses to enjoy too (some are paid), alongside the pop-up bars and street food stalls. You can expect to sample the wares of locally-famed businesses such as hosts Salvi’s and many more.

Here’s the full schedule of events and activities:

Festa Italiana Della Donna

This year Festa Italiana is set for a powerful opening day with the brand-new Festa Italiana Della Donna, where three outstanding women will take centre stage to showcase their craft.

Proud MasterChef UK 2021 contestant and inspiring Culinary Generations winner, chef Sofia Gallo, will be passing down her family knowledge to Festa audiences with a live cooking demo at. Pastaia and Festa regular Carmela Sereno Hayes will be sharing her personal take on the art of fresh pasta making. There will also be cooking demos by Salvi’s head chef Valentina Ambrosino, and Claire and Maurizio’s daughter Sienna Cecco, with details to be announced.

Claire Wheeler, managing director and Salvi’s matriarch, says: “Creating a platform for women in such a male-dominated sphere is important to us because, as much as we love creating traditions, we also love breaking them and starting afresh.”

Poretti Grande Tavola

Bringing something new to Festa Italiana 2023, Birrificio Angelo Poretti is hosting the ultimate ticketed dining experience on Saturday 26th August. Festival goers can pull up a chair and enjoy a classic Italian menu from Salvi’s that has been curated to pair perfectly with Poretti and sip on the authentic Italian lager from Poretti’s iconic airstream – from a delicious Italian Fritto Misto, including an array of Neapolitan street food dishes such as fried courgette flowers, stuffed olives, croquettes, and more, to a beautiful lemon sorbet.

Poretti has been elevating mealtimes for over 140 years so what better way to showcase the lager than at the UK’s largest Italian food festival. Not only can guests enjoy a glorious sit-down meal, Poretti’s beer sommelier will be on hand to explain why each dish, curated by Salvi’s, pairs perfectly with Poretti.

This experience is a ticketed event on Saturday 26th August and the area is then open to all on Sunday 27th August, where visitors can gather, grab a Poretti and dine on their favourite food from the festival food vendors.

Live Cooking Masterclasses – Festa Marquee (free)

On Saturday 26th August, there will be a masterclass and book signing from Italian cooking superstar and Parmigiano Reggiano’s UK brand ambassador, Gennaro Contaldo (Saturday Kitchen, Two Greedy Italians, Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast). He is followed by TV star and restaurateur Giancarlo Caldesi (Returning to Tuscany, Saturday Kitchen, Sunday Brunch), who will bring his Caldesi cookery school and endless charm to the Festa masses.

Sunday 27th August will see an encore masterclass from Gennaro, while Great British Bake Off 2021 winner, author, and proud Britalian, Giuseppe Dell’Anno checks: Dough you have what it takes to explore the world of baking?!

Keep your eyes on the Festa Italiana social media channels for updates on exact times of all masterclasses.

Food

What is Festa Italiana without authentic fresh food, gathered from every corner of Italy? Firing up the authentic Neapolitan ovens will be local legends and traditional pizza-makers I Knead Pizza, alongside the award-winning and proved to perfection, Proove. For the first time ever, Festa will also welcome sustainable pizza champions Purezza who will challenge the preconceptions of authentic Italian food, delivering full of flavour, fully vegan pizza with gluten free options available.

The Pasta Factory will be serving up fresh handmade pasta, cooked according to the family recipe books. Priding themselves in traditional homemade sauces, they will also feature vegan options, one of which is well-loved vegan parmesan. Pasta La Vista, mediocre pasta!

Bringing classic Sicilian street food to the heart of Manchester will be T’arricrii, serving specialty arancini, alongside much-loved freshly-imported Polara drinks, while anyone with sweet tooth can head over to Cafè Cannoli and Prendi Il Biscotto, who will bring an extensive range of hand-made Italian cannoli and biscuits.

Luxury gelato parlour Grandpa Greene’s will once again be serving classic Italian ice-cream out of their signature truck, with a surprise charity Festa Italiana collaboration flavour, the full proceedings of which will go to the The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.

In keeping with tradition, Salvi’s will be serving sweet treats and branded Salvi’s delights brought in from their Deli.

Bars

In addition to its extensive Grande Tavola dining experience, Italian brewery heavyweight Biriffico Angelo Poretti will be serving craft pints from its simply beautiful Poretti Piazza airstream.

Festa fans will also be treated to a brand-new spritz bar serving a selection of authentic Italian aperativi, including summer hits Aperol Spritz, Campari Spritz, and Limoncello Spritz, with a surprise cocktail to keep things fresh.

With a dedicated bar this year, Birra Murano will be inviting Festa goers to take a moment to appreciate the magical atmosphere with a clean, crisp and refreshing Italian-style pilsner.

Plus, the Salvi’s festival bar will be serving Italian craft beer, DOP-stamped wine, and, of course, glasses of Prosecco.

Music

Italian-turned-Manchester-favourites Compagnia Sole Luna will once again be flying in from scorching Naples to provide a traditional Neapolitan folk music, revisited in a folk-rock style. The music under the Festa sky will also feature local artists and bands, including the city’s best-loved opera singer The Manchester Tenor, Mojoband, and more.

Families – Carmela’s Kitchen

Pasta maestra Carmela Sereno Hayes is back with ‘Carmela’s Kitchen’ across the entire weekend, with free drop-in sessions, teaching pasta loving adults and kids alike how to make beautiful AND delicious fresh pasta from scratch.

25 — 27 August 2023 Entrance is free

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