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Festa Italiana Manchester | A great day out in the city

Festa Italiana staged in Manchesters Cathedral Gardens is a free weekend long festival that celebrates everything Italian,  Food drink and culture. It’s based on a traditional Italian festival and this will be the fourth event which was first held in 2017.

Festa Italiana, Manchester
Festa Italiana, Manchester

How to visit Festa Italiana Manchester

Manchester in the northwest of England has a great transport network and can be easily reached from anywhere in the uk via plane, train or road.  Manchester airport is situated on the outskirts of the city with Tram links right into the city centre and the Exchange Square tram stop is right across from the entrance to the Festival.  Trains run into Victoria Station which is only a few hundred metres from the event and can be easily reached on foot or you can arrive at Piccadilly Station with Tram connections to Exchange Square.  Buses run from most of the local towns with bus stops just behind the Cathedral.  If traveling by road there are plenty of parking options close to the event.  If you feel like making a weekend of it there are great Hotels within walking distance and a good selection of restaurants close by.

Festa Italiana, Manchester
Pizza Fritta, Festa Italiana

Where to stay

Manchester is quite a big city with plenty of option for all budgets when it come to accommodation. We recommend you stop somewhere close to the event. Exchange Square would be a ideal base close to the festival and transport hubs.

What to expect

Festa Italiana Manchester is a free event that showcases Italian food, drink and culture in and around the Manchester area.  It’s is held over a weekend Friday to Sunday. There is a stage with bands and various stands from Italian outlets in Manchester and popular Italian food and drink brands.

There is a show tent where various cooking demonstrations are held over the weekend.  This same tent is also used in the evenings of the Saturday and Sunday to host an Italian meal cooked and explained by the guest chefs.  These meals are by ticket only and are the only part of the event you need to pay for if you want to attend.

Festa Italiana, Manchester
Cooking Demo, Festa Italiana

Our day at the festival

This year we attended on the Saturday the weather was great we got there about noontime and the festival was just getting going so we got a couple of drinks and had a look round while it was less busy.  We had been before so we knew what to expect and it felt good to be out without restrictions of any kind, it felt normal and I think everyone there was enjoying the relaxed atmosphere.

As the afternoon went on the festa got quiet busy with long queues at all the food and drink stalls.  All the food looked amazing and we are particularly fond of Sicilian street food so headed straight to the Arancini vendors.  We had had these before last time we attended and knew they were amazing.  There were plenty of choices for both food and drink but as we were staying for the evening meal we didn’t want to eat too much.  The food was exceptional and we were very tempted by the Pizza Fritta which is a Neapolitan classic and was being prepared exactly as we had see it done in Naples.

Festa Italiana, Manchester
How to open a Cheese, Festa Italiana

The evening meal

This was the first time we had booked the evening meal. You have to pay for this and we really didn’t know what to expect.  It turned out we had no need to worry as it was an amazing experience.  To interact so closely with such passionate chefs will be something we will remember for a very long time.

Gennaro Contaldo is a natural entertainer and such a funny man with some amazing experiences to share. Giancarlo Caldesi is such a warmhearted passionate cook and it was a very humbling experience having our meal served to us by such  experienced chefs.  Maurizio Cecco our host and the driving force behind Festa Italiana was an ever present making sure everything went perfectly.   Last but not least Francesco Scafuri chef and restaurant owner who I had not heard of before but will definitely be finding out more about him after this.

The meal itself was simple Italian home cooking and was exactly what we had hoped it would be.  If you get the chance to attend in future we would definitely recommend paying the extra for the meal as its worth every penny.

Festa Italiana, Manchester
Il Secondo, Festa Italiana

Our view

Festa Italiana is a wonderful celebration of all things Italian in Manchester and well worth a visit. The evening meal was amazing being cooked for and interacting with some of the best Italian chiefs in the country was a joy. Something we will never forget.

Booking resources for your trip to Manchester


You can compare cheap flights on the Expedia platform or here on the Aviasales website.  Both will give you a good idea of how much its going to cost you to get to your chosen destination.


We have always tended to use having said that if your on a tight budget another good site to try as a comparison is Hostelworld, If your looking to compare different sites you can do that on Hotellook, we tend to look on here first to make sure we are getting the best deal.

Tours & Tickets

You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site.  Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.

For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.

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