They’re sought after by chefs around the world but until fairly recently Scotland’s only wild, native oyster fishery, hidden beneath the crystal clear waters of Loch Ryan, was a well kept seafood secret.
Stranraer Oyster Festival has shone a spotlight on this delicious seafood delicacy, making Scottish native oysters accessible and easy to try and enjoy during this three day foodie celebration.
The festival returns for its third year from 13-15 September, and despite being relatively new to the food festival scene, it has quickly become established as one of Scotland’s most exciting foodie experiences.
September marks the start of the native oyster season, which opens on 1st September, and the crew of oyster boat the Vital Spark will be on a two week race to gather the thousands of oysters needed for the festival.
Native oysters used to be common around Scotland’s coast but they’ve been harvested to near extinction everywhere except Loch Ryan. The oyster bed is carefully managed for conservation, with 95% of the ‘catch’ returned to the waters. Harvesting the oysters in this way actually helps the oyster bed to grow, slowly spreading the young oysters across the tranquil sea loch.
The festival celebrates, not just the oysters, but the local produce and locally caught seafood of the delicious south west, with other tempting treats including a spectacular giant paella and the current winner of the World Champion Scotch Pie award.
This year’s packed programme includes celebrity chef demonstrations by Tony Singh, the Scottish Oyster Shucking Championships for chefs, and the Scottish Oyster Eating Championship for those whose preference is enjoying them rather than preparing them!
National Cocktail Champion Massimo Lisi will be creating a special Loch Ryan Oyster Cocktail, available exclusively at the festival, oyster expert Tristan Hugh Jones will lead a range of oyster experience events and the impressive chef demonstration marquee will host a steady stream of inspirational chef demonstrations throughout the weekend. Evening activities includes the Big Oyster Bash at North West Castle Hotel, and there’s a wealth of family friendly activities too.
So regardless of whether you’re an oyster aficionado or you prefer a more grounded eating experience, there will be plenty to whet your appetite at Stranraer Oyster Festival – and it’s the perfect way to prepare for Scotland’s Year of Coast and Waters celebrations taking place next year too!
Fancy the Oysterfest? Make a weekend of it with a two night oyster festival break at North West Castle Hotel, or enter our competition to win one! Click HERE to enter.
Stranraer Oyster Festival runs from Friday 13– Sunday 15 September 2019. Weekend tickets cost £5 and under 12s go free. Additional charges apply for selected events.