Hillsborough International, Clarenbridge Oyster and the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival have been an integral part of the Irish culture since 1954. The yearly oyster festivals are few of the biggest events in Ireland’s social calendar that are awaited and anticipated throughout the year.
Being celebrated for more than 60 years now, oyster festivals mark the start of autumn and oyster season in Ireland. The word oyster is used as a common name for a number of different families of saltwater clams, bivalve molluscs that live in marine or brackish habitats.
People in Ireland throw a three-day party full of music, dancing and of course, oysters to mark the beginning of the one month long festival.
The oyster season kicks off with Hillsborough International Oyster Festival that was celebrated between August 30 and September 4, 2016 in Hillsborough village, County Down. This year’s programme included Oysters Masters Golf Day, Pearl and Oyster Ball, Super Car Sunday, Soapbox Derby, a gourmet food market and the World Oyster Eating Championship. The Guinness World Record for eating the most oysters was made at the festival in 2005 at a whopping 233 in three minutes. The search for a new record breaker is still on.
After the celebrations in Hillsborough, the Clarenbridge Oyster Festival runs from September 9-11, 2016 in south of Galway City, in a picturesque village at the mouth of Dunbulcan Bay. Oysters are harvested from the surrounding shallow seas, protected from the worst winter storms and worked on by the oystermen with generations of expertise. The festival is a celebration of the native oyster, history of the place and a vibrant and modern-day community respecting tradition.
The Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival marks the end of oyster celebrations in Ireland. Celebrated over the last weekend of September from September 22-25, this is the world’s longest running oyster fest and one of the most internationally recognised Irish events.
During the popular food festival, people can experience a wide variety of tantalising events to enjoy. Ranging from seafood trails and oyster hot spots to oyster opening championships including the World Oyster Opening Championship, the festival is a treat for all. Foodie talks and tasting events in some of Galway’s finest restaurants, food provenance tours, sample delights at the intimate food village at Festival Marquee, a Mardi Gras-style gala event through the streets, Best Dressed Lady competition, Tribal Oyster Feast Off oyster eating competition along with family activities, live music, cooking demonstrations, ‘Hot Oyster Awards’ cooking challenge and more, attracts a massive crowd.