The Galway International Oyster Festival takes place each year on the west coast of Ireland during the last weekend of September. The brainchild of Brian Collins, who managed the Great Southern Hotel (now known as Hotel Meyrick), it is renowned for its food, music and family fun.
The festival was formed in celebration of the Galway Native Oyster, a prized treasure of Galway, and is one of the longest-running food extravaganzas in Europe. The aim of the festival is to attract more visitors during the first month of the oyster season, which runs from September through April.
The Story of the Galway Oyster Festival
The first Galway Oyster Festival took place in 1954 with only 34 people in attendance but it quickly grew in popularity. Until the mid-1980s, the festival was held in two different locations, with festivities in Clarenbridge during the day and at the Great Southern Hotel in the evening. It eventually outgrew these accommodations and is now held in downtown Galway.
Plenty of Festivities and Lots of Oysters!
The festival includes several events, namely the Irish Oyster Opening Championship and the World Oyster Opening Championship. Other events include a masquerade gala, a seafood trail, street parades, a silent disco and a family day that features circus skills workshops, cooking demonstrations and music from top-class entertainers.
The Galway International Oyster Festival has become one of the largest events in Ireland, drawing thousands of visitors from around the world who gather to savor the famous Galway Oysters and be a part of the fun. It has also earned a place of prominence in the media, garnering features in Bon Appétit Magazine, Food & Wine magazine, BBC Good Food, Time Magazine, Easy Food Magazine, Travel & Leisure Magazine, The New York Times, Conde Nast, Daily Mail and The Sunday Times to name only a few. The Galway Oyster Festival has been deemed “one of the 12 greatest shows on earth” by the Sunday Times and was listed as one of the seven best festivals in Europe by the AA Travel Gide.
Over the years, the Galway Oyster Festival has become a place for people to celebrate hospitality while forging new friendships. It’s also a great opportunity for discovering a unique culture by sharing flowing champagne and, naturally, creamy, rich Irish stout.
Many notable guests have also graced the festival, including film director John Huston, golfer Christy O’Connor Jr., actor Bob Hope, and famous chefs such as Richard Corrigan, Clodagh McKenna and Martin Shanahan.
If you are planning to attend this year’s festival, consider checking out a number of other attractions the bustling city of Galway has to offer looking at the Ultimate Tourist Guide to Galway. Whether you’re coming alone or with others, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.
Visit the historical Galway Cathedral or spend some time perusing Shop Street for authentic Celtic jewelry and other items specific to this area of the world. Choose from a wide selection of clubs, pubs and restaurants to get the best in food and thirst-quenching that Ireland has to offer. Take a stroll along the beach and enjoy the natural seaside beauty all around you.
Check out Kirwan’s Lane. Named after the Kirwan tribe, who played an important role in building the city of Galway into an industrial center in the 1500s, it still serves as a notable medieval attraction worth seeing.
Take a cruise on the Corrib Princess from Galway into waters that are surrounded by the lush, green countryside. You’ll sail past ancient castles, historical ruins and the beautiful landscape of Ireland.
Want to know more about the Galway Oyster Festival? Click here for information on this year’s events and to buy your tickets today!