Festa Italiana: Manchester’s festival celebrating Italian food, drink and culture on Bank Holiday weekend

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You could spend the August bank holiday weekend raising a glass to la dolce vita in Cathedral Gardens at the event - here’s the programme.

A small slice of Italy will spring up in Manchester city centre over the August bank holiday weekend as Festa Italiana returns.

The weekend-long celebration of Italian food, drink and culture which is free to enter will take place in Cathedral Gardens from Friday 26 August to Sunday 28 August.

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Organisers are promising a packed programme with cooking masterclasses by celebrity chefs, feasts, family activities, and live music, along with plenty of tastebud-tantalising authentic Italian dishes and drinks, of course.

Here’s our guide to what’s on and how you can enjoy the good life Italian-style without having to brave the airport or hop on a long-distance international train.

What’s on at the 2022 edition of Festa Italiana?

Festa Italiana is brought to Manchester each year by Italian restaurant and food business Salvi’s and is inspired by the traditional festivals that take place across Italy.

One of the highlights of the event promises to be the feast on Saturday 27 August. This will be an intimate chefs’ table dinner featuring top class Italian celebrity chefs Gennaro Contaldo, Giancarlo Caldesi and Aldo Zilli,all of whom are well known for sharing their love of Italian food and culture on TV.

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Hosted by Salvi’s owner and festival head Maurizio Cecco, who will also be doing the cooking along with Carmela Serano Hayes, this promises to be an evening of great conversation and cooking which also includes a drinks reception and plenty of good Italian wine flowing. Tickets for the feast can be obtained here.

There will be masterclasses taking place throughout the weekend. On Friday 26 August the programme includes Maurizio Cecco and his daughter Sienna cooking at 1.30pm, and Giulia Martinelli showcasing how to master pasta at 3.30pm.

On Saturday 27 August there will be a pasta masterclass from Maurizio Cecco at 1.30pm, followed by cooking demonstrations and book signings from Gennaro Contaldo at 2.30pm and Aldo Zilli at 3.30pm.

A masterclass taking place at the 2021 Festa ItalianaA masterclass taking place at the 2021 Festa Italiana
A masterclass taking place at the 2021 Festa Italiana | Festa Italiana

On Sunday 28 August Giancarlo Caldesi will cook and sign copies of his books at 1.30pm, before Giuseppe Dell’Anno,who won the Great British Bake Off, will be doing a masterclass at 3.30pm.

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Carmela Sereno Hayes will also host Carmela’s Kitchen across the entire weekend, with free drop-in sessions on the hour teaching people how to make perfect pasta.

There will also be an array of Italian food to sample, from Café Cannoli’s taste of Sicily to local lads Paul and Mike from I Knead Pizza, Lucky Mama’s, Proove and Pasta Factory, while Salvi’s will have a deli.

T’arricrii will bring the essence of Sicily to Cathedral Gardens with their arancini and fritto misto, while Café Azul will be serving up Kickback Coffee, hot and cold drinks, snacks, cakes and grilled paninis all weekend and Destination Doughnut will be dishing out doughnuts.

On the drinks side of things there will be everything from Gin Mare Capri and Gin Mare to Italian craft beers, Aperol spritzes and lots of wine and prosecco along with a selection of soft drinks.

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There will also be music, with Compagnia SoleLuna flying over from Naples to perform its brand of southern Italian folk-rock each day along with performances by local artists and bands including The Manchester Tenor and DJs spinning records each night.

Families can also enjoy the Let’s Grow Allotment, which is being brought to Manchester by Ben Faulks of CBeebies brand Mr Bloom’s Nursery. Little ones will be invited into the pop-up allotment for a bit of gardening and childcare combining interactive play with learning about nature. The Let’s Grow Allotment show will run at 1pm, 2.30pm and 4pm each day across the weekend.

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