I don’t know about you, but for me the word ‘picnic’ usually evokes memories of sitting on rugs in cow-dung ridden fields, coming under attack by wasps, and eating limp sandwiches while trying to weigh everything down with shoes to stop it blowing away.

I wish I had the sophistication to be a wicker hamper, Champagne and gingham rug kinda picnicker. But alas, things have just never turned out that way. That’s why I was thrilled to visit the Manchester Picnic today; an al-fresco foodie wonderland in the heart of the city centre with proper grub, loads of picnic benches, and plenty of things to do and see.

One half of the gardens has been turned into a huge open air restaurant, filled with picnic benches and lined with stalls selling food and drink from some of the city’s top eateries. It smells GOOD. Seriously, don’t eat anything before you head down there because with delicious cuisine from Abode, Aumbry, Harvey Nichols, Mint Hotel, Kro, The Mark Addy, Wasabi, Hey Little Cupcake and loads more, there’s more than enough choice to picnic morning, day and night for the entire weekend.

As the official charity of The Manchester Picnic, Forever Manchester has a stall in the thick of the action, where we’re selling lots of lovely Forever Manchester merchandise and special Forever Manchester cupcakes to raise money for the charity. Come along and say hi!

Activities that have so far entertained the crowds at the picnic include a wind up Vintage disco, ‘science busking’ (cool science tricks and demos from the Manchester Science Festival) and a giant spring roll competition. Yup, giant spring rolls. Hosted by TV’s Matt Dawson and judged by some prominent Manchester mouths including Manchester Confidential publisher Mark Garner, fabulous Drag Artist extraordinaire Winnie LeFreak, and chefs from local Chinese Restaurants, the competition took place over at the Monster Munchies tent and featured humongous spring rolls from two of the city’s favourite Chinese eateries.

Mark Garner and Winnie LeFreak at The Manchester Picnic

Tomorrow The Manchester Picnic is all about the kids, with a Teddy Bear’s Picnic from 12pm. There are 100 Build a Bear Workshop goodie bags up for grabs for the best dressed teddies, and the owner of the Best Dressed Bear wins a five person family tent and some camping games. There’ll also be he chance to get your hands of some ancient relics from the Manchester Museum, as well a plenty of drop-in craft activities.

Been down to the Manchester Picnic yet? See if you can spot yourself in any of our photos: