Native Irish oysters are considered the best in the world. Travellers can now taste them during the festivals running through the island’s annual oyster season. The first one to kick off this year is the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival in County Down in Northern Ireland, an opportunity to sample the famous meaty Dundrum Bay Oysters. Running from August 30 to September 4, 2016, this one includes the Oysters Masters Golf Day, the Pearl and Oyster Ball, a soapbox derby, a gourmet food market and the World Oyster Eating Championships – the number to beat is currently 233 oysters in three minutes.
The Clarenbridge Oyster Festival (September 9-11, 2016) takes place just south of Galway City, in a village at the mouth of Dunbulcan Bay. The villagers will tell that theirs are the best oysters in the world, formed in a mixture of fresh and sea water. To celebrate the start of their season, the village throws a three-day party full of music, dancing and oysters.
However, one of the biggest events in Ireland’s social calendar is the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival, the world’s longest running oyster fest and one of the most internationally recognised Irish events. Running in Galway City over the last weekend of September (September 22-25, 2016), this celebration involves seafood, traditionally washed down with champagne or Guinness, and party of celebrity cook offs, music, street entertainment and parades.
Central to the festivities is the World Oyster Opening Championships where ‘shuckers’ from all over the globe compete to win the title.
Celebrating its 62nd year, during this food festival, visitors can expect to experience a wide variety of events, such as seafood trails, oyster hot spots, oyster opening (shucking) championships, foodie talks, tasting events, food provenance tours, Best Dressed Lady competition, the Tribal Oyster Feast Off, family activities, live music, cooking demonstrations and more.