July may be drawing to a close, but never fear; there’s still plenty of fun left to be squeezed out of Summer 2011.

And Manchester is in for a packed August of carnivals, parades, arts and food so colourful that even the inevitable rain won’t be able to dampen it.

Writing this blog just before lunchtime, we’re particularly excited about the foodie bits of August’s offering. Thankfully then, we don’t have too long to wait before The Manchester Picnic (5th – 7th August)descends on Piccadilly Gardens for two whole days, bringing together a mouthwatering selection of food from some of the city’s top eateries, to be enjoyed al fresco in a specially created, themed picnic paradise. With an overwhelming selection of grilled, deli and gourmet produce, it’s probably best to skip the Full English that morning, and save enough room to enjoy all the foodie treats that the city has to offer. As well as food there’ll also be music, crafts, family activities and a special ‘teddy bears picnic’ on the Sunday. We think this bit might just be for children. We don’t care. We’re getting involved.

Forever Manchester will be out in force with our own stall at the Manchester Picnic, so make sure you come and say hello.

Commencing on the same weekend as the Manchester Picnic and running for a week until August 14th, the Manchester  Arts and Crafts Market will set up shop on the other side of the City, in St Ann’s Square. We love Manchester’s specialist markets and the arts and crafts markets is a firm favourite, not least because of the special summer beer (and food – don’t forget the food) garden that accompanies it. The market will see dozens of arts and craftspeople from across Manchester bring a vast selection of gorgeous gifts, jewellery, handmade cosmetics, homeware and everything in between, while food on offer (did we mention the food?) will include paella, chorizo rolls, and hot pork sandwiches, all washed down with a glass of chilled British wine or local Hyde’s ale. Find out more at manchestermarkets.com.

Had enough food yet? Me neither. So on the 13th – 14th August, head over to Moss Side’s Alexandra Park for Manchester’s vibrant Caribbean Carnival, where the air will be full of the scents and sounds of the Caribbean. Which means you can eat your fill of authentic Caribbean cuisine and then work it all off by shaking your booty to the vibrant sounds of the carnival. There’ll be stalls, live music on a main outdoor stage, and the all important Carnival Parade, which will see Caribbean dance troupes from all over the UK dressed in breathtaking parade costumes and joined by the tropical sounds of a steel band. Find out more at manchestercarnival.co.uk.

Rounding off the month of August in Manchester is arguably the most colourful weekend of the entire year in Manchester –  Pride. Celebrating its 21st birthday this year, the outrageously fun celebration of all things LGBT has grown up into a fine figure of a festival, with its biggest ever events programme laid out to mark the event’s coming of age. Central to the 10 day Pride celebrations is The Big Weekend, a 71 hour marathon of music, comedy, clubs, markets and all things LGBT, climaxing in the famous Pride Parade on Saturday 27th. We’ll be blogging nearer the time with a fuller outline of Pride 2011, but for now, stick it in your diary using your best glitter pen and visit the Pride website for information.

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