Festa Italiana: Full Programme of Italian Food, Drink & Culture

Inspired by Manchester’s Italian heritage, as well as the traditional festivals over in Italy, Festa Italiana returns for its second year from 13th to 15th July in Cathedral Gardens, delivering beautiful food, delectable drinks and live music.

By Ben Brown | Last updated 3 December 2018

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Festa Italiana is a free, weekend-long celebration of all things Italian, transforming Cathedral Gardens into ‘Little Italy’ for the weekend, delivering everything from Italian street food and live cookery, to producers’ markets, banquets and bands. Not to mention a jam-packed programme featuring all the most glorious tastes, smells, sights and sounds of Italy.

Organised by authentic, family-run Italian restaurant Salvi’s and Manchester’s wider Italian food community, the Festa is a chance to get a weekend-long dose of that heavenly Italian lifestyle.

Think wood-fired pizza, the perfect Prosecco, fresh pasta, juicy porchetta, Buffalo Mozzarella, a fine Primitivo, artisan Limoncello, a refreshing Aperol Spritz, melt in the mouth prosciutto, extraordinary olives and, of course… Nutella!

Alongside the bounty of beautiful food and drink this year there’ll be a big kids’ fest, long table banquets, a live cookery theatre and live music.

Here’s what’s going on over the weekend…

All Weekend

Italian Producers Market
The Italian Producers Market will feature authentic and artisan food and drink producers from around Italy… Expect the best Italian cheeses, olive oil, meats, cakes, gelato and more.

Aperol Escape
Aperol will be turning a whole corner of the Festa orange, with hammocks, Vespa Seating and Foosball tables all creating a fabulous Italian drinking experience at the Festa. Italy’s most famous recent cocktail export, the Aperol Spritz, will be served up in abundance and there’ll be Aperol Spritz masterclasses happening too in the cookery theatre.

Capri Spritz Bar
Limoncello Di Capri is the only real, certified and authentic Limoncello in the world and it’s coming to Manchester for the first time via Festa where they will be serving up summer’s brand new cocktail at their own dedicated bar.

Beer Heaven
Beer lovers will be in continental beer heaven with three beer brands all hosting bars and serving up some of their most exciting birras especially for Festa Italiana. You’re going to find:

  • Italian Craft Beer Bar by Poretti
    Poretti will be serving up their new craft beers, Poretti 4, 5 and 6 and pairing with specially created tapas style food matches, all from their own bespoke Festa Bar. Pop by for a birra and a bite!
  • Menabrea Bar
    Northern Italian brews will come courtesy of Menabrea at their own special Festa Bar.
  • Peroni
    Serving their fine, Italian lager as well as Peroni Ambra, which is infused with chinotto – a rare Italian citrus fruit – for a zesty and refreshing beer. Perfect for summer!


Prosecco, Gin, Wine and Vermouth – A Real Italian Festa Bar
As well as all the bespoke bar activations, the main Festa bar will be serving up a wide range of Italian booze including of course… lashings of Prosecco. Plus, a fabulous collection of Italian gins, wines and vermouths too!

Bambini Fest
Inspired by traditional festivals over in Italy, the Festa is all about the community and family coming together – from Bambinis to Nonnas and everything in between. Festa Italiana therefore will be an amazing place for groups of all ages to spend the weekend, with a special child-friendly programme of activities scheduled throughout, all happening in the dedicated ‘Bambini Garden’

Italian Wizardry Up Close – Live Cookery Theatre
The Live Cookery Theatre will showcase a host of Italian chefs from Manchester to Italy and beyond giving Festa-goers the chance to learn the secrets of the world’s most popular cuisine.


The Italian Adventure @ 7:30pm
This banquet will see the city’s finest Italian food brands collaborating for the first time to create the ultimate Italian dining experience. Salvi’s, San Carlo and Lupo Caffè Italiano will join forces to create a course each of an extraordinary feast.

Guests will be welcomed with an Aperol Spritz drinks reception, which will be followed by a four-course dinner showcasing the very best Italian ingredients, dishes and the cuisine style for which each brand is known. Guests can expect beautiful, simple Italian dishes where exceptional Campanian ingredients are allowed to shine from Salvi’s; masterful, classic dishes from Italian icon, San Carlo and Lupo Caffè Italiano’s acclaimed, rustic home cooking in the form of their famous Tiramisu for dessert!

After-dinner digestif will come from Limoncello di Capri and Molinari Sambuca, whilst Italian music will be the soundtrack throughout from a fabulous Neapoloitan four-piece band.

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Full Live Cookery Schedule
11am: Carmela’s Kitchen – Pasta Masterclass for Kids.
12noon: The Art of the Perfect Pizza by Mauro Altieri From Proove.
1.15pm: Carmela’s Kitchen Pasta Masterclass for Grown Ups.
2.30pm: Carlo Molon and Festival Founder, and owner of Salvi’s restaurant, Maurizio Cecco collaborate for an extra special showcase of classic Italian cuisine.
4pm: Aperol Spritz Masterclass

Bottomless Bubbles Pizza Banquet at 6:30pm
This banquet is a non-stop gourmet pizza feast with bottomless prosecco to boot! Gorgeous pizzas will be brought to the long banqueting tables, offering guests the chance to eat as much as they like.

The pizza feast will be paired with bottomless bubbles as unlimited prosecco will be served to complement the feast, with beer or soft drinks also an option.

The Bottomless Banquet will run over a 90-minute session in the Festa Pavilion starting at 6:30 – all pizza and selected drinks are including during that time. Tickets are £25.

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Full Live Cookery Schedule
11am: Carmela’s Kitchen – Pasta Masterclass for Kids
12noon: Carmela’s Kitchen – Pasta Masterclass for Kids
1.15pm: Francesco Scafuri from Tre Ciccio shows how to create potted beef and paté ravioli served in a porcini sauce
2.30pm: Gianfranco Iervolino demonstrates his favourite dishes and treats visitors to a song or two!
3.45pm: Pasta Factory Ravioli masterclass by Giulia Martinelli
5.00pm: Carlo Molon presents a masterclass in Italian cuisine, showcasing the dishes that make his Lake Como restaurant so special.

Full information and updates can be found on the festival website www.festaitalianauk.com