Thousands flock to Galway for Europe's largest oyster fest –

Thousands flock to Galway for Europe’s largest oyster fest Published:  26 September, 2012

MORE  than 20,000 people are expected to head for Galway in Ireland this weekend for what is now Europe’s largest oyster celebration.

The Galway Oyster Festival, which was established by a canny hotelier in  the 1950s as a means of lengthening the summer season, has since turned into a must-attend event for seafood lovers. It usually draws hundreds of people from mainland Britain. The 58th Galway International Oyster Festival will this year see the city hosting its own ‘Food Village’, featuring a wide range of local cuisine, much of it fish related.The festival starts on Friday this week and ends on Sunday.

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). It attracted just 34 people that first year. 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.Ticket holders will receive special ‘taste tokens’, which will allow them to choose their favourite dishes from the array of food on offer at the Food Village in the festival marquee, which will be located at Galway Harbour. The Galway Native Oyster will also be available throughout the  weekend and equally copious amounts of  Bollinger Champagne  and Guinness will be drunk. Cian O’Broin, Chairman  of the Galway International Oyster Festival, said that the Food Village was a “fantastic addition” to the prestigious food festival.

“It’s the perfect opportunity to taste the finest seafood dishes from a selection of Galway’s leading restaurants and food producers, all at the festival marquee and is certainly one of the highlights of the 2012 festival,” said Mr O’Broin.

The opening night of the Festival will once again raise funds for the Galway Lifeboat via the RNLI – the charity that saves lives at sea.