Festa Italiana at Cathedral Gardens

Ian Jones, Food and Drink Editor
Festa Italiana
Festa Italia

Festa Italiana, 26–28 August 2022, free entry - Visit now

Festa Italiana Manchester is the country’s biggest festival designed to celebrate Italian food, drink and culture. Now in its fifth year, it has become established as one of Manchester’s most popular events with over 38,000 visitors flocking to last year’s superb (and sunny) event.

All held in a specially created city centre ‘Italian oasis’ on Cathedral Gardens

The event takes place across Manchester’s Medieval Quarter, filling Cathedral Gardens with Italian producers, chefs, food, drink and music, and even a pop-up cinema tent showing a series of Italian classics.

Festa Italiana

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 for the weekend:

Festa Italiana Feast – Festa Marquee:

On Saturday 27th August, there will be an intimate chefs’ table dinner featuring top class Italian celebrity chefs, Gennaro Contaldo (Saturday Kitchen, Two Greedy Italians, Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast), Giancarlo Caldesi (Return to Tuscany, Saturday Kitchen, Sunday Brunch), and Aldo Zilli (The One Show, This Morning, Celebrity Masterchef), hosted and cooked by Maurizio Cecco (Owner of Salvi’s and head honcho at Festa Italiana UK), with fresh pasta made from scratch by Carmela Serano Hayes (Carmela’s Kitchen).

Guests will dine with legendary Italian restaurateurs, authors, and UK TV favourites Gennaro, Giancarlo and Aldo, who, along with Maurizio and Carmela, will converse with guests throughout the feast, whilst Maurizio and Carmela cook up a storm, sharing their insights and knowledge about Italian food, drink and culture. The evening will be toasted with a Gin Mare drinks reception, and Italian wine will flow throughout the four-course meal, with all drinks for the evening included in the ticket price. Click the link below for tickets.

Masterclasses – Festa Marquee:

On Friday 26th August there’ll be a cooking masterclass from Maurizio Cecco and his daughter Sienna at 1:30pm, the team from I Sapori di Corbara Tomatoes will be flying in from Naples and doing a talk showcasing the brand and their products at 2:30pm, and at 3:30pm Giulia Martinelli of The Pasta Factory will be showing you how to be a pasta master. At 4.30pm the Luxardo Maraschino team will be guiding us through the versatility of their cherries in desserts and drinks, and at 5.30pm there will be a drink making Campari masterclass.

On Saturday 27th August there will be a pasta masterclass from Maurizio Cecco at 1:30pm, then there will be masterclasses and book signings from Gennaro Contaldo, UK brand ambassador for Parmigiano Reggiano, (Saturday Kitchen, Two Greedy Italians, Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast) at 2:30pm, celebrity chef and award-winning restaurateur, Aldo Zilli (The One Show, This Morning, Celebrity Masterchef) at 3:30pm, and at 4:30pm the Aperol team will be talking you through the methods behind some of the most loved Italian drinks.

Sunday 28th August will see masterclasses and book signings from Giancarlo Caldesi (Return to Tuscany, Saturday Kitchen, Sunday Brunch) at 1:30pm, while Gennaro Contaldo will be back at 2:30pm. Great British Bake Off 2021 winner Giuseppe Dell’Anno will be looking after things at 3:30pm and at 4:30pm there will be a pizza-making masterclass by the team from Pizzeria Da Michele.

Carmela Sereno Hayes will be hosting ‘Carmela’s Kitchen’ across the entire weekend, with free drop-in sessions on the hour, every hour teaching pasta-loving adults and kids alike how to make the perfect (and most beautiful!) pasta.

Food:

Over the course of the weekend, returning Festa favourites, Café Cannoli will be selling delicious cannoli made using authentic ingredients imported directly from Sicily, local lads Paul and Mike from I Knead Pizza will be bringing their wood-fired oven along to serve up their acclaimed Neopolitan pizza, while Lucky Mama’s will be serving extruded pasta with fresh homemade sauces.

Long-time Festa pals Proove will be joining the line-up with their authentic Neapolitan wood-fired pizza, T’arricrii will bring the essence of Sicily to Cathedral Gardens with their mouth-watering arancini and Fritto Misto, while Manchester’s very own Pasta Factory will be serving up a menu of simple, authentically Italian fresh pasta, all dishes will be paired with handmade sauces, lovingly prepared using in-season produce, and with family and culinary roots in Puglia Italy.

Café Azul will be serving up Kickback Coffee, hot and cold drinks, snacks, cakes and grilled paninis all weekend long while Destination Doughnut will be dishing out light and airy doughnuts.

Also on the bill, the driving force behind Festa Italiana, Salvi’s will be selling sweet treats and branded Salvi’s delights from their Deli.

Bars:

The Festival Bar will be showcasing signature serves across the weekend including Gin Mare Capri and Gin Mare, and Birrificio Angelo Poretti will also be bringing its craft Italian beers served from its Airstream Bar.

The Aperol Spritz Bar will be serving up everyone’s favourite Italian summer refresher while the Main Festival Bar will be bringing you all of the Italian classics including Gin Mare, Gin Mare Capri, Luxardo, Aperol Spritz, Italian craft beers, Ponte Prosecco, the very best Italian wine, and soft drinks.

Music:

This year Compagnia Sole Luna will be flying over from Naples, performing each day, and bringing traditional folk music revisited in a folk-rock style from southern Italy, there will also be a full lineup of local artists and bands including the city’s best-loved opera singer The Manchester Tenor, while DJs will be spinning records each night.

Families:

Brought to you by Ben Faulks, the co-creator and presenter of the award-winning CBeebies brand, ‘Mr Bloom’s Nursery’, Let’s Grow Allotment delivers a truly unique experience by combining the core themes of Mr Bloom’s Nursery with the shows of Ben’s theatre company ‘Plunge Bloom’. Championing nature, nurture, wellbeing, and imaginative play, with a deftness of touch that leaves an indelible impression upon audiences of all ages.

The Let’s Grow Nannies invite you to join them in their pop-up Allotment for a bit of gardening and childcare. Get stuck into feeding Hercules the bodybuilder butternut squash, Peep the Cauliflower and Jolene the sweetheart cabbage. The show occurs in a charming pop-up allotment which serves as an interactive play space hosted by two Let’s Grow Nannies with their family of baby fruits and vegetables.

The Let’s Grow Allotment show runs at 1pm, 2.30pm and 4pm each day across the weekend.

Festa Italiana

26–28 August 2022
Free entry

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Cinema Until 29 September 2022, from £9.95

Crimes of the Future at HOME

Activity Until 30 September 2022, from £25.00

Canoeing and Kayaking on the Mersey

Families Until 1 October 2022, from £13.00

Mrs Doubtfire at Manchester Opera House

MFDF 2022
Festivals Until 2 October 2022,

Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2022

Cinema Until 3 October 2022, from £9.95

Not Just Bollywood at HOME

Music Until 5 October 2022, from £5.50

Sounds of Nature at The Stoller Hall

The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Exchange
Theatre Until 8 October 2022, from £10.00

The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Exchange

Electric Gamebox at the arndale
Childrens Until 22 October 2022, from £5.00

Electric Gamebox at The Arndale

Victoria Baths Guided Tour
Activity Until 26 October 2022, from £6

Victoria Baths Guided Tour

Illustration entitled ‘Because you cannot tame something so happily wild’ by Emily Hughes showing painted animals in a woodland setting
Exhibitions Until 30 October 2022, FREE

Picture This at The Lowry

vegan super club
Activity Until 25 November 2022, from £50

Supper Club at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School