Galway International Oyster Festival (24th – 27th September)

Preparing Oysters for eating at the Galway Market

The oldest oyster festival in the world and the most internationally recognised Irish festival after St Patrick’s Day. Deemed one of Europe’s longest-running food extravaganzas, the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival was launched in September 1954 by Brian Collins, the manager of the Great Southern Hotel (now called Hotel Meyrick).

That year just 34 guests attended the first Oyster Festival Banquet and feasted on several dozen oysters each. These days, the event is one of the biggest on Ireland’s social calendar, drawing more than 22,000 visitors in 2012 who gleefully downed tons of the famous native Galway Oysters.

Galway Oyster Festival 2011
Galway Oyster Festival 2011

Over the last 59 years, the Irish food festival has featured prominently in the media including Bon Appétit Magazine, BBC Good Food, Food & Wine magazine, Easy Food Magazine, Time Magazine, Travel & Leisure Magazine, Conde Nast, The New York Times, The Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Image Magazine, Fodors, The Lonely Planet Guide and The Rough Guide amongst many, many more.

It has been described by the Sunday Times as “one of the 12 greatest shows on earth” and was listed in the AA Travel Guide one of Europe’s Seven Best Festivals.

The Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival is held on the very last weekend in September to celebrate Galway’s rich annual oyster harvest (in season from September – April). It was originally organised in conjunction with Paddy Burke’s Bar in Clarenbridge but moved into the city centre of Galway in the 80′s.

Growing ever since, The Irish and World Oyster Opening or ‘shucking’ Championships are held during the Irish food festival, as well as top class entertainment, street parades, seafood trails, celebrated hospitality, the start of many new friendships, flowing champagne and of course, rich, creamy Irish stout.

The event opens with a lively Mardi Gras-style parade, which weaves its way through the narrow medieval streets of the city down to the traditional home of Galway’s seafood trade, the Spanish Arch. The highlight of the festival is the highly competitive World Oyster Opening Championships where oyster openers from 16 countries will be vying for the title.

For further info: www.galwayoysterfestival.com