Horsham’s two day Piazza Italia event and Saturday Easter markets are celebrating after creating the town’s busiest weekend of the year so far - despite wet weather.The event, organised by Horsham District Council, along with over 70 partners, was supported by more than 200 car and bike owners who collectively braved the elements to showcase their vehicles.
More than 80,000 people visited Piazza Italia across both days of the festival.
And, although there were some fantastic car and bike displays, numerous entertainments, along with themed food and drink stalls, some people later took to social media to complain it was ‘a half-hearted event compared to previous years.’
However, Saturday’s expanded Easter markets and Messy Easter activities by Horsham Churches Together in Swan Walk helped to make this the busiest shopping day of all.
Local food and drink businesses did a roaring trade with one Swan Walk retailer, who actively used the event to drive sales, reporting a 60 per cent uplift in turnover on the previous Good Friday.
Council facilities at Parkside provided a broad range of indoor and outdoor driving fun - along with a respite from the soggy weather.
Although the weather did impact on the Italian bikes’ return to the event there were some fabulous models on show including a super rare Ducati 1299 Panigale R with just one mile on the clock.
Supercar enthusiasts were spoilt on either day with highlights which included HR Owen led 27 car Lamborghini display on Good Friday and the event’s first ever La Ferrari - one of only 500 built - as part of the Premier GT Race Paddock and Carfax Supercar display on Easter Monday.
Classic car lovers were treated to rare open top sports models from Maserati on Good Friday and Alfa Romeo and FIAT on Easter Monday supported by a host of FIAT 500s, Minis, Abarths and McLarens.
As well as the vehicles, there was also entertainment from English National Opera star Jo Appleby and the voices of Oyster Opera; Horsham Rotary’s Slot Car racing and children’s entertainer Tom Foolery, who was to be found balloon twisting for youngsters on Easter Monday.
The Piazza Italia event supports children’s charities which this year included Chestnut Tree House, The Children’s Trust and The Springboard Project, supported by The Sporting Bears Dream Rides, whose car owners give passenger rides in smart cars in return for donations.
Early reports indicate several thousands of pounds were raised.
Horsham District Council cabinet member for the local economy Councillor Gordon Lindsay thanked vehicle owners, the public and staff for their support.
He added: “I would like to pay tribute to our partners and vehicle owners who contributed so much to the event and especially to the public who turned out in droves to experience all that this unique event has to offer.”