Free aperitivo, pizza cars, bambini gardens and banquets at the UK’s biggest Italian food festival

Festa Italiana Manchester, the country’s biggest festival celebrating Italian food, drink and culture, has announced its full programme of events and guest chefs. Manchester city centre’s Cathedral Gardens will once again be transformed into Little Italy from 26th - 28th July. 

The first Festa Italiana was held in 2017, but immediately established itself as one of Manchester’s most popular events, with nearly 30,000 visitors visiting the event last year. 

This year’s festival will take in an even bigger area around the city’s ‘Medieval Quarter’ with loads of specialist Italian producers, chefs, food, drink and music than ever scheduled to descend on Manchester for the weekend. And it’s all free to enter. 

2019 06 21 Festa Italia Street Food

Italian Street Food Line Up

A massive range of Italian street food vendors will be popping up in the Italian Street Food Piazza. Open throughout the Festa from 11am – late.  Here are a few...


Family-owned Italian restaurants and deli specialists, Salvi’s will be bringing their trademark authentic dishes and incredible ingredients to the proceedings with Pizza Fritta (fried pizza) and fresh pasta. The Salvi’s Pop Up Festa Deli will be the Festa’s specialist produce heaven and selling and sampling the best Italian pasta, mozzarella, olive oil, Italian cakes and more. 


Spring Gardens’ glamorous Italian restaurant, Rosso, will be serving Italian smoked meats and deli sandwiches 

Cafe Cannoli 

Roving Sicilian street food specialists Café Cannoli will be serving up fresh cannoli in "Carlotta" their refrigerated cannoli cart. 

Pasta Factory

Antipasti and Fresh Pasta (including vegan and gluten free options) will be served by Shude Hill’s acclaimed pasta specialists, Pasta Factory. 


Sicilian brothers Riccardo and Romeo will be coming to Festa for the first time with their popular arancini operation. Specialising in arancini of multiple varieties (with meat, fish and veggie options), the brothers are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face with their authentic, delicious arancini as well as their passion for Italian and Sicilian food, drink and life!

Pizza Party…  

No Italian street food bonanza would be complete without an array of fine and authentic pizza. Festa Italiana’s pizza will come from Didsbury pizza aficionados Proove and Magiamo’s fabulous Fiat 500 converted into a Woodfired pizza oven. 

2019 06 21 Festa Italia Aperol

Italian Drinks Fest

A fine selection of Italian drinks has been curated for the Festa, open all day and every night

Peroni Italy Bar 

Peroni will be bringing a brand new and exciting Peroni Italy experience to the Festa. Lounge with a fine Italian lager whilst drinking in the Festa from their chic mini beer pavilion set up on Cathedral Gardens for the whole event. 


Aperol will be back for the 3rd year, turning a whole corner of the Festa orange, with hammocks, Vespa Seating and Foosball tables all creating a chic, Italian, Festival-style drinking experience, right in the heart of the city centre. Italy’s most famous contemporary  cocktail export, the Aperol Spritz, will be served up in abundance at a very special Festa price of 2 for £10.

Limoncello Di Capri 

Limoncello Di Capri is the only real, certified and authentic Limoncello in the world.

There’ll be a fabulous Limoncello Bar, serving up The Capri Spritz along with other Limoncello Cocktails too. The Capri Spritz is a fresh, long, summer drink that’s as Italian as can be - Limoncello Di Capri mixed with premium tonic, topped with Prosecco and garnished with fresh mint and strawberries. 

Martini Fiero Lounge 

Martini will be sampling their brand new summer spirit and cocktail all weekend in their dedicated Martini Fiero lounge area so festival-goers can get a taste of this summer’s hottest new drink. Martini Fierois a new contemporary vivid red vermouth by Martini – with a bitter-sweet orange taste.  Mixed with Schweppes tonic and served over ice in a balloon glass with a blood orange wheel garnish, Martini Fiero and Schweppes Tonicis set to be the cocktail of choice for lovers of beautiful, botanical drinks this summer. It will be available to buy on a special Festa offer of two for £10. 

Zonin Prosecco Cuvee 1821 brought to you by Zonin UK

Zonin UK will be hosting the official Prosecco and Wine Bar at Festa. Serving up their Zonin Prosecco Cuvee 1821 and a selection of their finest Italian wines, they’ll be hosting regular wine tastings throughout the Festa, as well as offering expert guidance at all times to help visitors discover their perfect Festival tipple. 

One of Italy’s finest and best regarded makers of wine, the Zonin family’s Estates cover a total of over 4000 hectares of land, of which around 2000 are planted with vines.The estates are located in Italy’s seven finest wine-producing Regions: the Veneto, Friuli, Piedmont, Lombardy, Tuscany, Sicily and Puglia.

2019 06 21 Festa Italia Peroni Bar

Festa Italiana Cocktail Bar 

The Festa Cocktail Bar will serve up classic Italian drinks….

●    Siciliana

Gin, Campari, pink grapefruit, sugar, soda

●    Fresca

White vermouth, limoncello, citrus, mint, limonata         

●    Negroni                                           

Gin, sweet vermouth, Campari, grapefruit

●    G&T

Italian gin, tonic, juniper, olive, rosemary

●    Spritzer

Gavi, green apple, almond, soda, cirrus, bitters

●    Plus Italian beers and soft drinks will also be served

2019 06 21 Festa Italia Carmela

Bambini Garden 

There’ll be a special, FREE child-friendly programme of activities scheduled throughout the Festa weekend from 11am – 6pm

A VIP area for the little ones, the Bambini Garden will be popping up at Cathedral Gardens as the Festa HQ for kids bedecked with bell tents each housing a different activity. The fun includes Venetian mask making, garden games, face painting, jugglers and performers. 

Carmella Serano Hayes (pictured above) will be hosting FREE fresh pasta making workshops throughout the weekend. An Italian cookery author, food writer, demonstrator and cookery event planner with roots in Puglia and Molise in Southern Italy, Carmela is now based in Northamptonshire and loves to share her passion for Italian food. 

Families can just turn up on the day and join in how to make pasta dough in a variety of shapes. There’ll be plenty of food and drink to choose from for little ones across the Festa site too including lots of fresh juice, pizza, pasta, ice cream, crepes and of course Nutella… 

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Festa Fiero! 

On Friday 26thJuly at the Festa Marquee, the festival will be kicking off in true Italian party style as they team up with the summer’s hot new ‘spritz’ cocktail Martini Fiero for the official opening party 

There’ll be free aperitivo, and a free cocktail for the first 200 people to arrive on site. This is set to be the ultimate summer cocktail party hosted in association with Italy’s most iconic drinks brands – Martini.  The Festa Marquee will be transformed inspired by the laid-back outlook of the Italian Riviera and boasting a big central bar, live DJ and plenty of Martini. 

Martini experts will be making and serving Martini Fiero and Tonics ‘ all night long from a central bar along with the full Martini product range, from the original iconic Martini Rosso and Martini Extra Dry to the modern Martini Rosato - all used to make Martini Negronis, Vodka Martinis and the fizzy twist on classic negroni - the Sbagliato. The laid-back soundtrack to the evening will take guests through to sunset and beyond and will come courtesy of local Italian party DJ, Cesarè.

2019 06 21 Festa Italiana Banquet Setting

‘Suburbs Meets City’ Neapolitan Festa banquet

Hosted by food critic, broadcaster and tour guide Jonathan Schofield, on Saturday 27th July from 7.30pm, in the Festa Marquee, this special Festa Banquet will see two of Greater Manchester’s most renowned Italian chefs cooking together in a friendly and fantastic Festa Feast. 

Francesco Scafuri from Tre Ciccio (with restaurants in Bramhall, Altrincham and Ramsbottom) and Maurizio Cecco, owner of Salvi’s, will create the ultimate Neapolitan banquet.  

The night promises to be jam-packed with anecdotes, extraordinary, authentic food and great conversation between the two chefs.  

Both Maurizio and Fran hail from around Naples, part of the Campania region of Italy – an area known for producing exquisite Buffalo Mozzarella and the best pizza on the globe. Neapolitan cuisine is based around incredible ingredients.  Maurizio and Fran embody this cooking style at their restaurants - importing the most beautiful produce from artisan suppliers to create some of the finest Italian food.

The chefs will create two dishes each to create a four-course banquet via a spectacular live cooking extravaganza.  There’ll also be Neapolitan music courtesy of a fantastic live band flown over especially from Naples for the occasion and the Festa Marquee will be dressed for a beautiful, rustic banquet.  Tickets to the banquet are £50 and are on sale here  

180711 Festa Italiana Images Carlo Molon

The Italian Live Cookery Theatre 

On Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th July (11am-5pm) at the Festa Marquee, a host of Italian chefs will give Festa-goers the chance to learn the secrets of the world’s most popular cuisine.
Gennaro Contaldo - Saturday 27th July at 3.00pm 

Italian chef, TV star and award-winning author Gennaro Contaldo will demonstrating how to make his fresh pasta with summer tomato sauce and will be answering questions from the audience.  Afterwards he will also be signing copies of books, available through Waterstonesin the marquee. 

Born in Minori on the Amalfi Coast, Gennaro is one of the country’s best loved chefs and an icon of Italian cuisine. He is widely known as the Italian luminary and mentor who taught Jamie Oliver all he knows about Italian cooking. He has since published several successful cookery books. 

His quintessentially Italian spirit and positive nature has made him a firm TV favourite. He regularly appears on Saturday Kitchen, as well as his own TV show, the highly successful Two Greedy Italians on BBC2. On Jamie Cooks Italy shown last year on Channel 4 he rode around his home country on a moped exploring the exquisite tastes of food paradise.

2019 06 21 Festa Italia Chef Demo

The Full Live Cookery Theatre Schedule…

Saturday 27th July:

12.30pm: Carmela Sereno Hayes of Carmela’s Kitchen will host a pasta making workshop 

1.30pm: Pasta Factory’s Giulia Martinelli (pictured above) hosts a vegan pasta masterclass 

3pm: Gennaro Contaldo will take to the stage for cookery demo Q and A and book signing. 

2019 06 21 Festa Italiana Franco Scafuri
Sunday 28th July: 

12.30pm: Carmela Sereno Hayes of Carmela’s Kitchen will host a pasta making workshop

1.30pm:  Fran Scafuri (pictured above) from Tre Ciccio will demonstrate how to make the Lamb Cutlets that he will be serving up to guests at the Saturday night banquet.

2.30pm: Zonin UK will be hosting an Italian wine tasting.  

3.30pm: Gianfranco Lervolino from Naples is one of the world’s most renowned pizza chefs, and a regular on Italian TV and radio. Also known for his singing, he will be hosting a cookery demo showcasing some of his famous dishes… and belting out a few of his favourite songs. Gianfranco will be joined by fellow Neapolitan chef Ciro Campanile, visiting especially for the Festa. 

4.30pm: Carlo Molon and Maurizio Cecco. Another Italian chef flying over for the Festival, Carlo is an exciting and influential cook, and currently Executive Chef at the Sheraton Hotel on Lake Como. He’ll be bringing his modern and experimental twists on Italian flavours to the Festa and collaborating with Maurizio Cecco from Salvi’s for a truly special Italian cookery lesson.  

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Festa Stage 

From 11am – 11pm everyday, they'll be a soundtrack of Italian and Manchester musicians and DJs 

Compagnia SoleLuna

A live band from Naples flying over especially for the Festival and bringing the perfect hit of traditional Italian folk music to the Festa. 

Music Nostra

A unique Italian band performing especially for the Festa, Music Nostra will be bringing a flavour of real Italian folk music to the event… Focusing on  different Italian regional accents the group will perform the best Roman and Neapolitan songs and the associated tarentelle (folk dance). The voice and the guitar, mandolin, violin, accordion, double bass and percussions blend harmoniously together in an entirely original music experience. 

Whoever and the Somethings

A crowd pleasing mix of classic Motown and contemporary covers delivered by Michelle Harris’ stunning vocals and her slicker than slick live band.

Festa Italiana Manchester, 26th - 28th July, Cathedral Gardens