HAVING attracted more than 22,000 visitors last year, the Galway Oyster Festival is one of Ireland’s most internationally recognised food festivals and is set to take place once again in the heart of Galway City later this month.
As the world’s longest-running oyster festival – originally created by Galway city hotelier Brian Collins – the Galway Oyster Festival has become a must-see event and features on “bucket lists” across the globe.
The festival takes place on the last weekend in September, from Thursday, September 26 to Sunday, September 29, and over the past 59 years, has already welcomed more than half a million visitors, who have savoured more than three million oysters.
The three-day festival features a host of entertainment, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway for families, couples and foodies.
Whether it’s a seafood trail, a foodie talk or a tasting event, there’s something that’s bound to suit all tastes.
A carnival of masked revellers, led by a lively band, will wind through Galway’s medieval streets on Saturday, September 28 during the highly anticipated gala Mardi Gras-style Masquerade event.
Taking in three venues, guests will indulge in a different course of delicious Galway seafood in each venue while being entertained by live performances til the wee hours.
This year’s edition is also serving up a Tribal Oyster Feast-Off – an oyster eating contest especially held for The Gathering.
On Sunday, September 29, visitors sharing a name or link with the 14 families who led Galway, the City of the Tribes, in medieval days are invited to battle it out.
Invitations are extended to anyone linked in name or to a descendant of Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, D’Arcy, Deane, Ffont, Ffrench, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris or Skerritt.
If you think you have what it takes and are eligible to enter this special new competition, email [email protected].
In addition to the family-orientated activities, live music, cooking demonstrations and a food village, the real highlight of the weekend is the renowned World Oyster Opening Championships, or Oyster Olympics, where Galway welcomes oyster eating champions from 25 different countries who will compete for the ultimate crown of the 2013 competition.
Stopping over in the city is easy during the festival weekend, with a selection of city-based hotels offering special festival packages. The five-star Philip Treacy-designed g Hotel is offering guests a two-night stay, on Saturday September 28 and Sunday, September 29, with breakfast each morning and tickets to the World Oyster Championship from €215pps.
Alternatively, festival-goers can stay at the four-star Ardilaun Hotel and avail of two nights’ accommodation with a dinner for two and tickets to World Oyster Championship from €240pps.
Meanwhile, the four-star Oranmore Lodge Hotel offers a two-night bed and breakfast stay and includes dinner on one evening, as well as a ticket to the World Oyster Opening Championship on Saturday, September 28, from just €159.
Visitors to the city can also stay at the three-star Hotel Clybaun, where you can stay for two nights and attend the World Oyster Championship, all for just €192 per person sharing.
For further information on this year’s festival, see www.galwayoysterfest.com.