Horsham’s signature Piazza Italia event is ready to roll this Easter weekend with a host of unique attrractions for all ages and interests.
Bikes and Scooters
Good Friday brings a welcome return to a massive display of Italian bikes featuring a fascinating cross section of Ducati models and many other brands. (Bike Display in East Street from 12.30pm).
The Bullseye Scooter Club will host a terrific display of Italian scooters alongside their friends at The Bear pub in Market Square on Easter Monday from 10am.
Children’s and family activities
We have lots of indoor activities this year, should the weather not be so kind to us. On Good Friday and Easter Monday there is slot car racing with Horsham Rotary at the Council’s Parkside building – just £1 a go with circuits for both novice and more confident ‘drivers’. We have not just one or two but three F1 Simulators at Parkside this year. Pirelli have brought their replica F1 car as part of the Kwik Fit Road Safety Zone and Altitude Events have their two simulators inside the Parkside foyer with one on one challenge racing on Good Friday and a fastest lap time competition with a very special prize from Premier GT as part of their Race Paddock on Easter Monday. (Both just £2 a go or equivalent donation to Pirelli). Listen to the Mad Music Machine by STEAMCademy as it produces tunes using samples of all your favourite supercar sounds.
Not part of Piazza Italia, but a fun edition to Easter Saturday, there will be Messy Easter activities for younger children thanks to Horsham Churches Together in Swan Walk near Toy Barnhaus.
There are Fun Fair rides on the Forum by Bensons (Friday, Saturday and Easter Monday), free Pizza making with Dominos on the Carfax (Good Friday). Up at the Parkside offices, there will be face painting and ice cream there both days and Jumpin’ Jockeys (Good Friday) plus child’s Go Karts (Easter Monday). The Springboard Project have Easter Arts and Crafts at Parkside and huge local favourite Tom Foolery will be down in the Carfax between 2 and 4pm on Easter Monday.
Oh, and we can’t forget the eggcellent Horsham Rotary Easter Bunny Hunt which starts on Good Friday and hops and skips with you around town through the rest of the two week Easter Holidays.
Although built on a reputation of mass displays of Supercars and Italian Stallions, Piazza Italia has always strived to present a range of Italian cars that exhibit style and grace over muscle. 2018 will be no exception with some superb examples of Alfa Romeos, Fiats and Maserati’s over the two days.
A speciality of Horsham Piazza Italia is its annual celebration of the Mini and its starring role in the Italian Job films. The ‘drive’ behind this connection is the fact that Horsham’s Electric Theatre gave Sir Michael Caine his first acting job way back in 1953. In 2018 it so happens that 53 mini owners have booked to take part in a special Parkside display on Good Friday which serves to promote their next year’s triple anniversary (60 years of the Mini, 50 years of the Italian Job film 30 years of the ItalianJob.com charity). Premier GT’s race paddock at Parkside on Easter Monday promises a very special selection of rare RS Fords that will also put many in a nostalgic frame of mind.
Appealing to those that like to experience the ‘real thing’ not just see it – Piazza Italia friends, The Sporting Bears club return providing passenger ‘Dream Rides’ in return for donations to be shared amongst this year’s supported children’s charities. Bookings are recommended early on Good Friday and Easter Monday as spaces fill up rapidly. Check out the Sporting Bears cool wall to book your ride at the Brock Taylor offices at the corner of East Street and Market Square from 10am each day. (Prices start at £30 and vary according to car excitement value).
If virtual racing is your thing, Parkside has three F1 simulators both days with Premier GT offering a track day for the fastest lap time on the Monday. While there the Rotary slot cars offer another opportunity to test those competitive driving skills on a new digital circuit.
With more than a nod and a wink to Italian culture, Piazza Italia hosts the fabulous voices of opera star Jo Appleby, the singing chef Jon Nulty (both in the Carfax on Good Friday) and our very own Gondolier (in the Carfax and around town on Good Friday).
Mr Pavarotti, the Oyster Opera duo and a walkabout Supercar stilt walker join Monday’s bill along with local youngsters Terra Nova and Young HAODS. Children’s favourite Tom Foolery supports the Springboard Project in the Carfax between 2 and 4pm.
This year’s entertainment programme sponsors are local media partners The District Post and Spirit FM Radio. Davey and Anna will be sharing compering duties over the weekend and presenting live streaming video coverage and previews of the event’s content at key points along the way. Video partners Silvertip Films and Toby Phillips Photography will be helping to capture the essence of Piazza Italia for some post event round-ups.
Food & Drink
Horsham has a superb range of eating and drinking options year round thanks to its huge assortment of grocery stores, delis, restaurants, cafes, tea rooms and bars. However experience shows that during town events these often get very busy so whether you are looking to eat Italian at home or on street, Piazza Italia’s organisers have been working hard to make sure you are not left hungry.
Horsham’s favourite Italian Market, Italia in Piazza returns to Carfax directed by original owner Simon Faro and now in partnership with Horsham’s signature Italian café and Italian food specialist Giovanni’s & Panino. All the fabulous high quality Italian cheeses, cold meats and specialities are promised as before and more, with a new selection of regional hot food specialities including Piadina Romagnola, fresh seafood and pizzette from Napoli, Gelateria cannoli and gelato with brioche, Arancini from Sicily, Porchetta Romana from, yes you guessed it, Roma and the all-time Piazza Italia favourite, Italian sausages grilled freshly in a roll with relish.
Of course Horsham Markets have given the town a strong reputation for its street food providers of its own and two if its finest will be serving both days, Sussex Street Food of the Year winner – Garlic Wood Farm (fresh pasta and roast porchetta) and Pig & Jacket (burgers and brisket with an Italian twist and breakfasts if you arrive early). Add to this both days wood fired Pizza’s, the Hepworth’s brewery tent with their Piazza Italia beer and a range of sweeter options from Vice Puddings, Thomas Cookies and more.
The Italian Market will also be presenting a range of complementary regional Italian wines and the Pop- Up Piaggio Prosecco bar returns injecting a little fizz to proceedings.
Easter Markets are being presented by Horsham General Market (Bishopric Good Friday/Easter Saturday) and Horsham Markets by Food Rocks plus Giovanni’s Italian Market (Carfax Easter Saturday)
Local charities support
Raising awareness and money for charities has always been a big part of Horsham Piazza Italia involving both participants and visitors alike. Children’s charities are once again at the heart of the event with long standing partners Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice (Carfax Good Friday) and The Children’s Trust and their Supercar Event supporters (Market Square Friday) this year joined by local inclusive play charity The Springboard Project (Carfax and Parkside Easter Monday). Charitable partners also include ItalianJob.com (Parkside Good Friday) SERV Sussex Blood Transport (Display leaders both days, town collection on Saturday) and the Rotary Club of Horsham (Parkside Slot Cars both days and Easter Bunny Hunt all Easter holidays)
Sponsor & partner displays
Sponsoring Piazza Italia for the first time are Jones & Tomlin, perhaps better locally known as Horsham Bedding Centre. Their display (Carfax, Friday) brings into focus the impact a worn mattress can have on the quality of your sleep – a topic recently to hit the best seller headlines. Also in Carfax on Good Friday, Horsham’s Dominos, let the kids get up close and personal with some serious pizza making and will also be selling a slice or two, hot and fresh from their Springfield Road store.
Encouraging safer driving in the presence of so many high performance vehicles is a consistent Piazza Italia theme. Kwik Fit offer some great tips and opportunities to test your driving knowledge at the Kwik Fit Road Safety Zone (Parkside both days) along with Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, the Institute of Advance Motoring and bring Pirelli’s F1 simulator to challenge your driving skills (last seen at the Silverstone race circuit).
Car dealer and manufacturer partners are represented this year by Lyons Farm Cars of Slinfold and Coolham displaying a variety of attractive Fiat 500 models (Carfax both days) and electric car leaders, Tesla show a pair of their legendary autos from their wildly successful Gatwick showroom (Carfax Easter Monday).
Our event compere’s this year will be Davey Pearson, Managing Director of the District Post and increasingly recognisable face of DP TV, the weekly YouTube Horsham good news show, and Anna Bingham, popular presenter at our local radio station, Spirit FM. You can catch them acting up on the Carfax bandstand and just maybe we’ll learn a bit more about the event and some of its featured characters. The District Post and Spirit FM share sponsorship credits for this year’s event entertainment
The BIG draw. Although Horsham Piazza Italia is built around Italian car marques it has always featured different and exotic supercars to add variety and broaden the event’s appeal. This is a formula which has stood the test of time.
This element of the event along with the bike display is totally reliant on owner and organiser goodwill and as such it is inevitable that changes to the programme are made in response to opportunity and availability.
2018 sees the most radical changes so far as we bring forward the ‘Bulls’ in place of 11 years of the ‘Prancing Horses’ as the centrepiece of Carfax on Good Friday. Thanks to new partners, HR Owen Lamborghini and a local long term event supporter, organisers are looking to present a Lamborghini display, which if weather allows, promises to be one of the most ‘jaw dropping’ displays Horsham Piazza Italia ever featured.
Not quite in the Supercar league but exciting in a more accessible fashion are another Piazza first – an impressive display of Abarth’s from the South East Owner’s Club that will be parading the famous scorpion badge with pride (Bishopric Easter Monday).
Add to this a Children’s Trust Supercar Event presentation (Market Square Friday), corrals of Ferrari’s (Bishopric Friday, Forum Easter Monday) British McLaren’s (East Street Easter Monday), and Maserati’s (Carfax Good Friday), and Piazza Italia 2018 is set to serve up a feast of four wheeled fantasies for enthusiasts and laymen and women alike. Topping this all off on Easter Monday a pack of stunning Supercars and race pedigree cars are forecasted by Headline sponsor, Premier GT in their second year at Piazza Italia (in the Carfax and Parkside Race Paddock).
The finale big drive outs
You can’t beat a good parade and Horsham Piazza Italia brings it all together for a big count down and departure of all display vehicles through the Carfax at 3.30pm or thereabouts on Good Friday and Easter Monday.
The organisers hope to see you all there and don’t forget to give the drivers and riders a great send- off…..who knows, if they enjoy it enough they may tell their friends to come next time.