When: 3rd – 8th September 2013
Where: Hillsborough, Co. Down
£: Some events are ticketed, others are free to enter (see the website for more details)
What is it?
Hillsborough International Oyster Festival is an annual festival in Northern Ireland with a range of events from a food market to a banquet and ball.
The Gourmet Food Market will give visitors the chance to sample and buy local produce from over 50 different artisan food and drink suppliers and watch cookery demonstrations. The market is open from 11am on 7th September and is free to enter.
The highlights of the Oyster Festival have to be the Wacky Soapbox Race and the World Oyster Eating Championship, both held on 7th September. The Wacky Soapbox Race event begins at 9am and sees amateur drivers race home-made soap box vehicles in the grounds of Hillsborough Castle. There is a £500 prize for the winner and it costs £50 to enter, with proceeds going to charity. The World Oyster Eating Championship takes place on the Festival Gig Rig in The Square. The current record holder, Colin Shirlow, known as the Ireland’s ‘Oyster King’, will return to compete again this year. Shirlow set the Guinness World Record of a whopping 233 oysters in 3 minutes, so he should be a difficult one to beat!
There will also be an oyster-themed cycle ride where participants will be given clues to find hidden oysters along the route and the person who finds the most will win a small prize. The ride is suitable for all abilities and takes place on the 7th September. It costs £10 to enter with proceeds going to charity.
It is predicted that around 6,000 oysters will be consumed during the course of the festival from Dundrum bay in Northern Ireland, where sheltered waters make the perfect environment for oysters and molluscs.
More info: hillsboroughoysterfestival.com