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Festa Italiana unveil full line-up for its huge Italian food festival on August bank holiday

Festa Italiana is back!

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Festa Italiana & sicillianfoodnq / Instagram

The UK’s largest Italian food festival, Festa Italiana has unveiled a colossal line-up ahead of its free Cathedral Gardens event over the August bank holiday weekend.

Festa, initially born out of Manchester’s Italian community four years ago, is back with a bang after Covid-19 foiled its plans last year, with workshops, demonstrations, book signings and some of Italy’s finest cuisine courtesy of celebrated Italian chefs such as Aldo Zilli, Giancarlo Caldesi, Gennaro Contaldo and Festa founder, Salvi owner Maurizio Cecco.

So, what’s up for grabs on the food front? 

Well, considering that Festa celebrates all things Italian, it never fails to deliver on the cuisine side of things.  Throughout the weekend, returning Festa favourites, Café Cannoli will be selling their delicious cannoli made using authentic ingredients imported from Sicily.

Some familiar names will also be making an appearance – I Knead Pizza will be using their staple wood-fired oven to serve their famous Neapolitan pizza, while NQ Sicilian will be dishing up artisan gelato, Coppa Della Casa, Brioche Gelato and Brioche Col Tuppo. Also on the bill, the driving force behind Festa Italiana, family run Salvi’s will be frying up its popular Festival dish, Italian Pizza Fritta.

Pasta Factory will also be serving up a menu of fresh pasta paired with handmade sauces, lovingly prepared by a family with culinary roots in Puglia Italy. And for those with a sweet tooth, Paradiso Authentic Italian will be bringing its range of carefully crafted tiramisú.

Carmela Sereno Hayes, the hugely popular pastaia (specialist pasta maker) and author, will also be making a return to Festa with her much talked about pasta workshops.

I Knead Pizza

And as for the beverages front?

Well, it wouldn’t be a weekend dedicated to Italian cuisine without some authentic Italian booze, would it? The Main Festival Bar will be bringing all of the Italian classics to the party, including Aperol Spritz, the Festa’s signature cocktail Limoncello Spritz in partnership with official Festa brand partner, Limonce.

There’ll also be Italian craft beers, Prosecco, Italian wine, Negronis, Gin & Tonic, and San Pellegrino soft drinks, and
Peroni will also be serving pints of their famed lager at the Peroni Showcase Bar, alongside their own portable cinema.

The films showed will be Romeo and Juliet, Cinema Paradiso and La Dolce Vita.

But perhaps most excitingly, there will also be a number of masterclasses across the weekend.

On Friday 27th August, there will be a series of family-friendly masterclasses for those attending with children – at 1:30pm, Sienna Cecco, the twelve-year-old daughter of Salvi’s owner, will be hosting a cooking demo to teach kids how to make simple and tasty dishes with ease, and at 2:30pm, Julia Martinelli from Pasta Factory will deliver a fun kids pasta masterclass.

Festa Italiana

Saturday 28th August will then see back-to-back workshops and book signings hosted by celebrity chefs and award-winning authors: Gennaro Contaldo, UK brand ambassador for Parmigiano Reggiano, (Saturday Kitchen, Two Greedy Italians, Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast) at 1:30pm, and Giancarlo Caldesi (Return to Tuscany, Saturday Kitchen, Sunday Brunch) at 2:30pm.

On Sunday 29th August, Gennaro Contaldo will be back at 12:30pm with another Parmigiano Reggiano masterclass and book signing, and at 1:30pm, Fran Scafuri from Altrincham’s Tre Ciccio will be taking guests through a very special recipe. At 2:30pm, celebrity chef and award-winning restaurateur, Aldo Zilli will be hosting a masterclass and book signing.

On the music front, Compagnia Sole Luna will be flying over from Naples and performing each day, bringing traditional folk music revisited in a folk-rock style from southern Italy, while DJs will be spinning records each night.

The free festival will be taking place at Cathedral Gardens on the August bank holiday weekend, Friday 27th to Sunday 29th. For more information and to grab tickets for the paid events, visit the Festa Italiana website here.

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Manchester Christmas Markets opening date finally confirmed for 2022

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@mcrchristmasmarkets / Instagram

It’s nearly that time of the year again, as we count down the days until Christmas – yes, it’s only September, but there’s no harm in getting excited early.

And the festive season means one thing – the return of the popular Manchester Christmas Markets.

The annual event will once again return to Manchester in 2022, and will be spread out across a number of locations in the city centre.

@mcrchristmasmarkets / Instagram

The dates for this year’s event have now been revealed, and this year it will all kick off on Thursday November 10th.

From this date, they will be open every day until Thursday December 22nd – the main hub of markets will then close, but certain zones will reopen after Christmas and into the New Year.

This will include the Christmas ice rink at Cathedral Gardens, with the food and drink stalls at that location also reopening after Christmas Day.

David Dixon / Geograph

Last year, the main hub was located at the newly established ‘Winter Gardens’ in Piccadilly Gardens, which will be returning – the council is yet to release the full list of zones for this year, however.

It’s very likely that, as per usual, there will be stalls on Market Street, St Ann’s Square, King Street, Exchange Square and Cathedral Gardens.

Manchester’s Christmas spokesperson, Councillor Pat Karney, said: “With Christmas Day a mere three months away, that can only mean one thing – Manchester Christmas Markets Day is even sooner!

“In fact, there’s only seven weeks left to go until you can grab a gluhwein and buddy up with a bratwurst whilst checking out the fantastic Christmas gifts and goodies on the best Christmas Market in the land. Mark it on your calendars – 10 November – they’re back!”

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A huge Hot Wheels Monster Truck ‘Glow Party’ is coming to Manchester

There will be a pre-show party before each performance, giving fans the chance to get up close to their favourite Monster Trucks

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Hot Wheels

Mancunians are set for some serious nostalgia with the arrival of the iconic Hot Wheels Monster Truck ‘Glow Party’ early next year.

Following the success of its debut in the US, family entertainment tour Hot Wheels Monster Trucks will be bringing its ‘Glow Party’ experience across the pond to Europe.

And in January next year, the battling monster trucks will roll into Manchester’s AO Arena for a two-night residency.

The ‘thrilling’ new experience is set to give audiences the chance to watch their favourite Hot Wheels Monster Trucks, including the likes of Mega Wrex, Tiger Shark, Boneshaker, Bigfoot, and the all-new Gunkster light up the floor.

Hot Wheels

There will be an exciting ‘Crash Zone’ pre-show party before each performance, giving fans access to the competition floor to get up close to the Hot Wheels Monster Trucks and get an autograph from their favourite drivers and performers.

Tim McWilliams, the Senior Vice President of Touring and International Music at Live Nation, said: “We are thrilled to be embarking on our third UK tour of Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live.

“As the world’s largest live-entertainment company, we are part of many incredible shows, but Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live provides a new dimension in family entertainment that never fails to impress.

“We can’t wait for these shows so we can all join the Glow Party.”

Hot Wheels

And speaking ahead of the event’s arrival next year, the CEO of Family Entertainment Live Ken Hudgens added: “With the success of the Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live Glow Party thus far, we’re excited to continue the amazing experience into 2023 internationally.”

Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Glow Party will be taking over Manchester’s AO Arena on Saturday January 14th and Sunday January 15th 2023.

Tickets are on sale now, with each one including an autograph card, a souvenir pass, and lanyard exclusive to Crash Zone attendees.

Get tickets here.

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Manchester’s ‘first public city centre park’ to open this week

The park has been in the works for the last six years

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Mayfield Park

Manchester’s first city centre park in over 100 years is set to open to the public this week.

Over the last eighteen months, the derelict space next to Piccadilly Station has been transformed into Mayfield Park, a stunning, accessible and varied green space for everyone to enjoy.

The planning, design and delivery of the park has been in the works for over six years, with it receiving £23m of investment from the government’s Getting Building Fund in 2020.

This investment, delivered through the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), is part of the Government’s strategy to support ‘shovel ready’ schemes that will help to drive economic recovery following the Covid pandemic.

Martin Moss

And this Thursday (September 22nd), Mayfield Park’s main entrance on Baring Street will officially open to the public.

The park will then be open seven days a week from dawn until dusk, providing local residents, visitors and communities across Manchester with a ‘city centre oasis of green space and beautifully landscaped river walkways’.

Martyn Evans, Creative Director at U+I, the regeneration company leading the Mayfield development on behalf of the Mayfield Partnership, described the opening as a ‘momentous day for Mayfield and for Manchester’.

He said: “The greatest cities in the world offer a true blend of amazing culture, great architecture and green space. Manchester is one such city and Mayfield Park adds a significant piece of new, family-friendly, inclusive green space to the city centre.

Martin Moss

“It’s been a true team effort with our project team and our partners at Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and LCR working closely with local building contractors PP O’Connor to deliver the park.

“We are incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved and we’re excited to welcome our first visitors on 22nd September.”

The leader of Manchester City Council, Cllr Bev Craig, added: “It’s with excitement then that we can look ahead to the official opening of the city centre’s first public park in 100 years later this week.

“We know the massive health and well-being benefits that green spaces can have for our residents and increasing access to parks for our residents is a key priority for us. Mayfield will be a 6.5 acre oasis at the heart of our city.

Mayfield Park

“Green investment is fundamental to our wider ambitions to improve air quality and underpins our work to strengthen Manchester’s resilience to climate change.

“Mayfield is a park first and foremost, but it is also a statement that development in the city can and should celebrate green spaces to become a focal point in our communities.

“Importantly, Mayfield also represents a significant economic boost for Manchester. The partnership has shopped local when procuring contractors to make sure that employment opportunities have benefited local companies and local people first.

“During the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, it’s this type of development that provides the jobs that our residents need – and makes sure Manchester people continue to share in the success of our city.”

Mayfield Park will open to the public on Thursday September 22nd at 12:30pm. For more information, visit the Mayfield website.

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