Don't miss: Galway Oyster Festival

A shucking frenzy at the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival brings to a close a season of cultural events in the Irish harbour city

By Pól Ó Conghaile
Published 20 Aug 2015, 09:00 BST, Updated 5 Jul 2021, 10:18 BST

Food glorious food
Galway's oyster extravaganza — going from strength to strength after 61 years — draws thousands of visitors. Running this year from Thursday 24 to Sunday 27 September, it celebrates the start of oyster season (September to April), and you can get tasting straight away on its seafood trail, with stops ranging from sushi at Raw to Spanish tapas at Cava Bodega and some of the country's best old-school fish and chips at McDonagh's. Miss it at your 'pearl', as the organisers might say.

Drink up
For cosy conversations washed down with a pint or whiskey, pull up a pew in the Tigh Neachtain. The interior has barely changed since 1894, but thankfully the food has. Rabbit blanquette with spiced tomato and chorizo puree, anyone? For a shot of traditional music, steer yourself up the street to Tig Cóilí.

World Oyster Opening Championships
It takes a fair amount of strength, skill and persistence to shuck even a single oyster, so what must it take to be crowned champ? Pop along to the festival marquee at Spanish Arch (Saturday; €70/£49) to find out. A nonstop afternoon of food, drink and entertainment — including live music and celebrity guests — awaits.

Festival frenzy
Galwegians know a thing or two about culture — the Oyster Festival draws the curtain on an impressive summer programme that includes the stonking Galway International Arts Festival, Galway Film Fleadh and, of course, the famous Galway Races.

A taste of the Atlantic
Want to sample the Oyster Festival action without paying top dollar? Opening Night and the Masquerade Mardi Gras ball are pricey, but the Galway Oyster Festival Parade (Saturday) is free, and Féile na Mara ('Festival of the Sea') on the final day includes cooking demos, storytelling, face-painting and circus skills workshops from just €15 (£10) per person, with under-12s going free.

Published in the September 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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