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UK’s largest Italian food festival is coming to Manchester this weekend and it’s FREE

It’s all happening at Festa this weekend…

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Festa Italiana

Manchester is in for a treat this bank holiday weekend with the return of the UK’s biggest Italian food festival.

Described as ‘the country’s most exciting and vibrant festival of Italian food, drink and culture’, Festa Italiana is a unique celebration of the very best of Italian culture, and will once again be gracing Manchester’s Cathedral Gardens for the August bank holiday weekend.

The festival found life five years ago by the family-run Italian restaurant group Salvi’s, and was quick to grow in popularity, with over 38,000 people visiting during last year’s event alone.

And this weekend, a number of the festival’s most popular faces will be returning alongside some exciting new additions.

Here’s what’s on the line-up….

Festa Italiana

Festa’s famed cooking masterclasses

To kick start the festivities on Friday August 26th, there will be a cooking masterclass from Festa founder Maurizio Cecco and his daughter Sienna at 1:30pm, while the team from I Sapori di Corbara Tomatoes will be flying in from Naples for a talk on their brand and products at 2:30pm.

At 3:30pm, Giulia Martinelli of The Pasta Factory will be showcasing her best pasta-making techniquies and, at 4.30pm, the Luxardo Maraschino team will guide guests through the versatility of their cherries in desserts and drinks. And to round up the day at 5.30pm, there will be a Campari cocktail masterclass.

The following day on Saturday August 27th, there will be a Pasta Masterclass from Maurizio Cecco at 1:30pm, followed by masterclasses and book signings from Gennaro Contaldo, UK brand ambassador for Parmigiano Reggiano at 2:30pm. Then, there will be a meet-and-greet with celebrity chef Aldo Zilli 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 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 very special pizza making masterclass by the team from Pizzeria Da Michele.

Festa Italiana

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

Festa Italiana Feast at Festa Marquee

On Saturday 27th August, there will be an intimate chefs’ table dinner featuring top class Italian celebrity chefs, Gennaro ContaldoGiancarlo Caldesi and Aldo Zilli, hosted and cooked by Maurizio Cecco, with fresh pasta made from scratch by Carmela Serano Hayes (Carmela’s Kitchen).

Guests will dine with the legendary Italian restaurateurs and will be able to engage in conversations about Italian food, drink and culture throughout the feast.

The evening will be toasted with a Gin Mare drinks reception, and Italian wine will flow throughout the delectable four course meal, with all drinks for the evening included in the ticket price.

Get tickets for the Festa Feast here.

Festa Italiana


It wouldn’t be an Italian festival without good food, would it?

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 highly acclaimed Neopolitan pizza, while Lucky Mama’s will be serving extruded pasta with fresh homemade sauces.

Proove will also 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.

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 delightful doughnuts described as: light, airy and the perfect balance of sweetness.

Festa Italiana

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


Festa Italiana’s famous Festival Bar will be making its grand return, and will showcase incredible signature serves across the weekend, including the perfect serve Gin Mare Capri and Gin Mare. Birrificio Angelo Poretti will also be bringing its craft Italian beers served from its Airstream Bar.

The Aperol Spritz Bar will be doing exactly what it says on the tin by 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.

Family-friendly events

Let’s Grow Allotment – brought by Ben Faulks, the co-creator and presenter of the award winning CBeebies brand Mr. Bloom’s Nursery – 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.

Festa Italiana

There will also be the a pop-up allotment by Let’s Grow Nannies, which will offer parents a mix of gardening and childcare. The show takes place 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.


Music and Festa Italiana go hand-in-hand and, this year, Compagnia Sole Luna will be flying over from Naples to bring the city’s traditional folk music to Manchester. There will also be a full line up of local artists and bands including the city’s best loved opera singer The Manchester Tenor, while DJs will be spinning records each night.

Festa Italiana will take place at Cathedral Gardens from Friday August 26th to Sunday August 28th, 12pm – 11pm every day. 

Find out more here.

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A huge pumpkin picking festival with pumpkin pizza and ice cream is starting this weekend

Guests will be able to stroll through three acres of home-grown pumpkins

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@mrsdowsons / Instagram

Pumpkin patch season is officially upon us and, to celebrate appropriately, a new patch is opening near Manchester this weekend.

Mrs. Dowsons Park Farm, located in Ribble Valley, Lancashire, will be relaunching its annual pumpkin patch with a number of exciting new additions.

As per pumpkin patch tradition, guests will be able to stroll through three acres of thousands of home-grown pumpkins, twelve of which are rare imported varieties. 

Each ticket includes one pumpkin to choose and take home, while guests wanting to take back a whole haul of the autumnal veg will be able to buy extra there and then on the patch.

@mrsdowsons / Instagram

And new to the dairy farm this year will be a whole host of autumnal activities and attractions, including an interactive experience with the resident farm animals.

Mrs. Dowsons is passionate about giving children – and adults alike – the opportunity to see, touch and handle a variety of different farm animals, and the park has been built with that in mind. 

There will also be a cafe serving up a whole host of pumpkin-flavoured delights across the Pumpkin Festival, including warming pumpkin soup, pumpkin pizza, pumpkin pie punch and even pumpkin corn dogs.

And on the drinks side of things, the pumpkin theme continues, with a selection of pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin pie ice cream, cinnamon ice cream and salted caramel apple pie.

@mrsdowsons / Instagram

The family-run dairy farm is also known for making its own ice cream, too, using milk from its own cows to create delicious, refreshing desserts using no artificial ingredients or flavours.

Mrs. Dowsons’ Pumpkin Festival kick starts this Saturday (October 8th), and will run every Saturday and Sunday until Sunday October 30th.

Additionally, the Pumpkin Festival will be open for the full week of October 24th.

Get tickets here.

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The Black Friar is transforming into a magical winter tavern for Christmas

The tavern will boast roaring fires, cocktails and festive feasting

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The Black Friar

The Black Friar pub is set to be transformed into a magical winter tavern with festive tipples and open fires this Christmas. 

The historic Salford pub – which reopened last year after standing derelict for nearly two decades – will provide a candlelit and cosy retreat complete with roaring fires, rugs and furs, ready for a season filled with warmth, nostalgia and festive feasting.

The Winter Tavern will boast the perfect space for celebrating Christmas with a selection of á la carte, festive dining and cocktail menus, providing plates of festive grazing and winter tipples. 

The Black Friar

The Black Friar has also partnered with Highland Park 12 Whisky to provide the drinks at the new Winter Tavern.

Distilled in the Scottish Orkney Islands – which is historically known as the ‘Viking Kingdom’ – Highland Park will be bringing its Celtic charm and expertly crafted spirits to the venue, giving guests the chance to warm up with cocktails and hot toddies on tap.

Additionally, the Tavern will be available for private hire throughout the festive period, with the space accommodating up to forty-five seated for the festive sit down menu.

It can also be booked out for canapés for a more casual affair, with a standing capacity of fifty-five people.

The Black Friar

The Winter Tavern comes complete with a full private bar, bathrooms and space for a DJ – which The Black Friar can help plan and provide entertainment for.

The Black Friar’s Winter Tavern will be open from November 21st, and bookings for tables and private hires are open NOW.

Get booked in here.

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What's On

A HUGE wine festival is coming to Manchester this weekend

10 independent wine traders will be bringing their very best vinos for guests to taste and sample across the event

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Manchester's Finest Group & Unsplash

The Manchester Food and Drink Festival is set to host a HUGE wine festival with over 100 vinos to sample this weekend.

MFDF’s Wine Festival is set to take over the newly-refurbished New Century Hall, where a whole host of independent traders will showcase the very best vinos their wine lists have to offer.

Attendees will be able sip their way through some of the most exciting and interesting wines from across the globe, all carefully selected by the city’s best wine experts.

Guests will also get the chance to chat directly to some of the industry’s most passionate retailers, who will guide them through the vast selection of wines they have on offer.

New Century Hall

This year’s participating wine traders include Le-Social, Grape to Grain, Italy Abroad, Cork of the North, That Wine Cellar, Sip Wine Bar, UkiYo Republic, Ad-Hoc and Suppher.

A programme of tutored wine tastings and specialist masterclasses will also take place across the weekend, offering extra opportunities to delve into specific wine topics, themes and regions.

All the masterclasses are free to attend and come included in the ticket price.

As well as wine tutorials there will also be free flower workshops and even the chance for guests to try their hands at a spot of painting.

Cork of the North

Also at the festival this weekend will be a number of market stalls from some of the cities most beloved vendors, including Ancoats Coffee, Mello.Haus, Trafford Horticulture, MFDF Award-winner Dormouse Chocolates and Caroline Dowsett.

Additionally, there will be music provided by Babyflxcko and Lebo across the event, and the bar will be open throughout.

The MFDF Wine Festival is taking place this weekend from Friday October 7th (6-9pm) to Saturday October 8th (12-5pm and 6-9pm).

Tickets cost £16.99pp. Get yours booked here.

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