69th Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival

News Release

Natives. Flats. Native flats. Ostrea edulis – whatever you call our native oysters – are as much a part of Ireland’s food fabric and history as our butter. Fatty yet not fatty. Nutty without any nuts. A hint of citrus without any fruit. And that unequalled lingering sweet iodine flavour. There is nothing quite like the Irish native oyster.

This year’s Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival runs from the 22nd to the 24th of September 2023, an iconic festival, 69 years in the making, celebrating a long-standing Irish tradition thousands of years old.               

Galway, the country, and this renowned festival may all have changed over those 69 years but what the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival celebrates is timeless – that unchanging Irish tradition and treasure, and the ongoing pleasure given by those delectable delicacies.

These authentic Irish coastal treasures are coveted everywhere from the bistros and brasseries of Paris, all the way to China.  Pair with brown bread, butter, and a pint of stout or a glass of bone-dry white wine for a truly unforgettable Irish food experience.

Galway’s leading chefs all have a profound grá and respect for the Irish native oyster as a key ingredient on their menus. 

Enthusiasts from every corner of the world descend to the city of Galway during the last weekend of September to immerse in an action-packed 3-day event, based in the established festival marquee on Nimmo’s Pier.  Overlooking the iconic Long Walk, the festival kicks off on the evening of Friday 22nd September, with music and dancing on either side of the annual National Oyster Opening Championships event.  Serious competition and a serious party!

Saturday 23rd September brings the core unmissable event, the World Oyster Opening Championship, commencing with a lively parade of competitors weaving its way through the narrow medieval streets of Galway city down to Nimmo’s Pier.  Oyster openers from all over the world showcase their unique technique, talent, and precision as they battle it out through the intense excitement for the World title.

The Winners Masquerade Party on Saturday evening is a highlight of the festival calendar, presenting a night of elegance and mystery that sees masked revellers enjoying oysters and bubbles all the while showcasing their best moves on the dance floor to a jam-packed live music programme.  

Sunday at Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival is Féile Bia Na Mara – Wild Atlantic Tastes – a free family day of live music, cooking demonstrations, environmental talks and childrens’ workshops.

“In recent years, our iconic event has had accolades from the international food and travel media,” says Maria Moynihan Lee, producer of the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival, “for example, the Rough Guide has included it in their 50 Things To Do Before You Die list.  But besides being a bucket list experience, the festival is of significant economic importance to Galway as it attracts thousands of local and international visitors and promotes Galway as a tourist and gastronomic destination all year round.  The festival delivers a lot more than this direct economic impact though – this city, at the mid-point of the Wild Atlantic Way, has a reputation for throwing a great party which is what we intend to do again this year.”

So come out of your shell – sorry! – and join the oldest food festival in Ireland celebrating our most prized edible treasure.

Tickets for all events are available at the Festival Box Office www.galwayoysterfestival.com