The UK’s largest Italian food festival is set to return to Manchester this summer.
Described as ‘the country’s most exciting and vibrant festival of Italian food, drink and culture’, Festa Italiana is a unique celebration of all things Italy.
Festa, which was initially born out of Manchester’s Italian community four years ago, is back with a bang after a COVID-19 break 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’s owner Maurizio Cecco.
Maurizio’s twelve-year-old daughter, Sienna Cecco, who is also a talented chef in her own right, will be joining the party and leading free kids cooking classes throughout the three day long festival.
Carmela Sereno Hayes, the hugely popular pastaia (specialist pasta maker) and author, will also be making a return to Festa Italiana and running her much talked about pasta workshops all weekend long.
And as for the beverages front?
Well, it wouldn’t be a weekend dedicated to Italian cuisine without some authentic Italian booze, would it?
A number of the big labels will be on hand to keep your thirst quenched throughout the weekend such as Peroni, who will not only be serving pints of their famed lager, but will be popping up their portable cinema, too.
Complete with bean bags, deck chairs, popcorn, aperitivo boxes, Peroni (obviously) and themed classic movie screenings of Cinema Paradiso, Romeo and Juliet and La Dolce Vita, the popular lager will have you covered.
There will also be a space and activities over the weekend to keep children entertained while their parents feast upon pasta, pizza and Aperol… so, families, worry not.
The festival has been confirmed to take place at Cathedral Gardens on the August bank holiday weekend, Friday 27th to Sunday 29th.
For more information, you can visit the Festa Italiana website here.
Contact returns with its annual Vogue Ball for LGBTQ+ festival 2023
Make sure you don’t miss this!
For its 50th anniversary, Contact is set to return with its annual House of Suarez’s Vogue Ball, celebrating the most extraordinary and exciting LGBTQ+ talent, as part of the Queer Contact festival.
Running from February 4th – 18th, Queer Contact festival 2023 will be bigger and brighter than ever, with Drag Race royalty gracing the stage and its annual extra, show-stopping Vogue Ball, presented by House of Suarez , kick-starting a two weeks celebration of queer artistry.
Set to be even more fierce and fabulous, highlights will include Drag Race UK’s talented queens Ginny Lemon and Sister Sister, as well as an evening in conversation with Heartstopper actor and Contact alumni Fisayo Akinade.
Along with the outrageous cabaret Vogue Ball — a yearly highlight for fans of Contact — which will take place at Manchester Academy, it will travel back to the glorious decade of disco for a night of glitter and glam MCed by the iconic, Rikki Beadle-Blair.
Houses from across the UK compete for the coveted titles of best choreography and best design — awarded by an esteemed panel of judges — as they pose and perform in an unapologetic celebration of inclusivity, queerness, and diversity.
Ginny Lemon and Sister Sister, the breakout stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK Season 2, will not fail to live up to their reputations as the most despised queens, as they try to bring the most disappointing drag show you’ve ever seen to the Manchester Stage — as part of their, You Keep Me Hanging On Tour.
In their debut for Queer Contact, this will mark the duo’s first joint show, and promises to be hilarious, if average.
To add another festival highlight, Heartstopper and Cucumber actor Fisayo Akinade will also explore the many different elements that have influenced his life and career. Inspired by Contact’s celebration of its 50th anniversary, an In Conversation with Contact’s artistic director and CEO, Keisha Thompson, will see her talk with him about the 50 things that shaped his career.
One of the breakout comedy acts from the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, comedy performer François Pandolfo will make his debut at this year’s Queer Contact as Milly-Liu, with his ‘one-man-cat-drag-late-night comedy show.’ Join her as she is ready to spill the beans on all your favourite celebrity pussies.
You can also jump onboard the queerest Tardis with Doctor Who inspired entertainment by Carrot and Friends. Be transported through time and space with their cosmic comedy as you experience dimension-defying drag, stratospheric stand-up, burlesque to make a Cyberman blush, and an oncoming storm of many other surprises.
Bradford’s bad girl Lady Bursha will bring her hilarious and iconic drag queen comedy to the stage. Shortlisted for the 2021 BBC New Comedy Awards, Lady Bushra is the brainchild of British Asian comedian Amir. His alter ego Lady Bushra is known for her stand-up comedy, ingenious lipsync performances and one-liners, often seen performing her sold out ‘Drag Comedy Cabaret’ across the nation.
Other cabaret and comedy highlights include a night with the Cocoa Butter Club, an evening in the company of The Bitter Peach’s Peach Chutney Crew, and Luke Hereford brings their autobiographical musical adventures on their journey of queer self-discovery.
CEO and Artistic Director Keisha Thompson said: “We’re so excited to be bringing the best in LGBTQ+ arts and culture together once again for Queer Contact 2023. Our flagship queer arts festival has been central to our mission and vision for over a decade and will continue to cement our spot on Manchester’s cultural map for many more decades to come.
“In 2023, as we celebrate our 50th birthday, Queer Contact is characterised by joy; from a Dr Who-themed cabaret to an evening with Heartstopper’s Fisayo Akinade, we’re here to platform a huge spectrum of queer lived experience; focusing on kindness, community and celebration.”
Tickets for Queer Contact 2023 are now on sale and can be booked via Contact’s website.
Chester Zoo is giving away free tickets for children during teacher strike
What an offer!
Chester Zoo is offering free tickets for children during the teacher strike on Wednesday, as the walk-out will affect classrooms across the UK.
The conservation zoo, a popular visitor attraction for families and animal enthusiasts alike, originally made 2,000 tickets available. But as families prepare for a day off work and keeping the children entertained, they quickly sold-out due to popular demand and another 1,000 were made available.
School-aged children can take advantage of the offer, which runs this Wednesday, February 1st, when thousands of teachers will be taking part in industrial action over pay and conditions.
There will be plenty of educational activities for youngsters to take part in as the zoo’s ranger team will be hosting interactive events where children can learn about its mission to prevent the extinction of endangered species.
The zoo hope’s to inspire new generations of conservationists with young people playing a vital role in creating a sustainable future for the planet and its wildlife.
Charlotte Smith, Director of Conservation Education at Chester Zoo, said: “Our education team will be hosting lots of extra fun interactive activities on Wednesday – all aimed at helping educate children about the incredible animals here at the zoo, as well as equipping them with the skills they’ll need to become the conservationists of the future.
“As one of the world’s leading conservation zoos, we put everything into our work to prevent extinction both here in the UK and globally. Our huge team live and breathe wildlife conservation – so we want to give children and young people the opportunity to learn all about how they can help play a vital role in creating a more sustainable future for people and wildlife.”
Staff at the much-loved Cheshire zoo, one of UK’s largest, are supporting a move to see conservation education – including issues such as climate change and sustainability – embedded into the UK curriculum, having already seen it work successfully in the North West.
A range of in-zoo activities will be available at no extra cost on the day. Free tickets will be available on the zoo’s website and must be pre-booked, with children accompanied by a paying adult – you can grab tickets here.
An all-you-can-eat cheese party is coming to Manchester for Valentine’s Day
Calling all cheese lovers!
A pub in Manchester is doing an all-you-can-eat cheese party to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Pie and Ale, based in the Northern Quarter, will be hosting this very cheesy evening in collaboration with Homage 2 Fromage, on Thursday February 16th at 7pm – 9.30pm.
The Leeds-born cheese tasting company will be laying out a selection of cheeses decked out on slabs in a help-yourself buffet style, called ‘Cheese of Love’ – perfect for lovers of the creamy delight.
The event promises to showcase a selection of ‘eight sexy, sultry, sensuous cheeses’ with some ‘soft and yielding’ and others ‘big and strong’, and a serving of the molten good stuff to make an appearance amongst the layout also.
You can have your fill as the portions of cheesy goodness will be unlimited for the two and half hours.
You’ll be needing something to wash it all down with, and at Pie and Ale you can also get stuck into a large selection of ales and craft beers, with six rotating cask ales, craft lager and beer on tap, and plenty of cans and bottles to choose from in the fridge.
Put together by Nick and Vickie, who created Homage 2 Fromage in 2011 after a random conversation on Twitter, the event will be a laid back and casual evening where you can take someone special and indulge in a pungent banquet together while sipping on some good ales.
Tickets cost £40 for a table for two and drinks are not included in the price. You can purchase tickets here.