Essex’s most vibrant, exciting and fun celebration of Italian food, drink and culture returns on Saturday 1 September for a day inspired by il bel paese, the beautiful country.

The 2018 Italian Festival will fill the High Street with street food stalls, a producer’s market, pizza-making workshops, operatic recitals and lots of other family-friendly fun.

Over 6,000 people enjoyed last year's event, where highlights included a veritable catwalk of Italian supercars, including Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis and Alfa Romeos. Due to popular demand these amazing macchinas will be back, along with a display of classic scooters from marques such as Lambretta, Vespa and Piaggio.

Before assembling on the High Street to create an incredible automotive display, the cars and bikes will form a procession from 11.30am, passing along the seafront - from Chalkwell Esplanade, heading towards the Kursaal – before heading into the town centre. Don’t forget to bring your cameras and smart phones to capture the sights and sounds of Italian engineering at its finest.

This year's event promises a programme that includes hands-on pizza masterclasses, a showcase of the latest Italian street styles and jewellery, special activities for children, such as free face painting and pasta-based arts and crafts sessions, and for the grown-ups, prosecco tasting.

BBC Essex’s live music stage will also be ramped-up with artists and musicians performing throughout the day, entertaining Italophiles with performances of famous opera arias, choral pieces and poetry.

The Italian Festival will be open from 11am to 4pm and is a completely free to attend event. For more information about events happening in and around Southend, click on