Thousands head west for world's largest oyster celebration –

Thousands head west for world’s largest oyster celebration Published:  19 September, 2011

SEAFOOD gourmets and, in particular lovers of oysters, from Britain and Europe will be heading in their thousands to Galway this week for Europe’s leading oyster celebration.

The West Coast Irish city will come alive as it lays on the  57th Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival, the most internationally recognised food festival in Ireland and the world’s longest running international oyster extravaganza. The three-day event starts this Friday.

All participants taking part in the competition must be able to open a minimum of 18 oysters in under 120 seconds. The participants will be judged on their time and presentation.

This year the celebrations are not just concentrated on oysters. The event has been widened to include all types of seafood, hence the extended title.

The festival has been acclaimed as “one of the 12 greatest shows on earth” by The Sunday Times, and has attracted more than 10,000 international and local attendees each September.

With the Irish seafood sector currently worth in the region of 700-million euros annually and employing over 10,000 people events like the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival are vital in sustaining the industry and growing the sector within Ireland and lucrative foreign markets including the UK. This year the programme is being widened to include all types of local seafood as well as oysters and there is an exciting line up of events confirmed so far.

They include Galway’s first seafood Dine Around in a selection of the city’s finest seafood restaurants at 6pm on Friday September 23rd. Other highlights are-

*  The National Oyster Opening Championship at the festival marquee at 7pm on Friday, September 23rd to kick-start the weekend’s celebrations. Attendees will be treated to Galway Bay seafood chowder and a gourmet seafood plate. This event is also supporting the RNLI.*  The Oyster Festival Parade at 11.30 am on Saturday, September 24th from Hotel Meyrick through the streets of Galway with a host of fun, free events for all the family*  The Bollinger World Oyster Opening Championship at the festival marquee from 12pm-5pm on Saturday with the famous native Galway oysters and Bollinger Champagne.*  The Oyster Festival Gala Ball Glamorous Black tie event at 8pm in Hotel Meyrick, where it all began over 50 years ago and renowned each year as the festival highlight*   The Oyster Finale with family activities, kids fancy dress, live music, cooking demonstrations, Irish coffee making competition and jive & jazz marking the finale of the 57th Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival at the festival marquee* The event ends on Sunday with singing, dancing and fish cooking demonstrations