“Ireland’s longest running and greatest gourmet extravaganza” The Rough Guide ’50 Things to do before you die’


Welcome to the oldest oyster festival in the world and the most internationally recognised Irish festival after St Patrick’s Day. Deemed one of Europe’s longest-running food extravaganzas, the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival was launched in September 1954 by Brian Collins, the manager of the Great Southern Hotel (now called the Hardiman Hotel).

That year just 34 guests attended the first Oyster Festival Banquet and feasted on several dozen oysters each. These days, the event is one of the biggest on Ireland’s social calendar, drawing thousands of visitors to sample the famous native Galway Oysters at the end of September each year. Now the festival sees more than 20 competitors, representing countries from all over the world flock to Galway to vie for the World Championship title.

Over the last 69 years, the Irish food festival has featured prominently in the media including Bon Appétit Magazine, BBC Good Food, Food & Wine magazine, Easy Food Magazine, Time Magazine, Travel & Leisure Magazine, Conde Nast, The New York Times, The Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Image Magazine, Fodors, The Lonely Planet Guide and The Rough Guide amongst many, many more.

It has been described by the Sunday Times as “one of the 12 greatest shows on earth” and was listed in the AA Travel Guide one of Europe’s Seven Best Festivals.

The Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival is held on the very last weekend in September to celebrate Galway’s rich annual oyster harvest (in season from September – April). It was originally organised in conjunction with Paddy Burke’s Bar in Clarenbridge but moved into the city centre of Galway in the 80’s. The festival tent is now located at Nimmo’s Pier, Galway City. 

Growing ever since, The Irish and World Oyster Opening or ‘shucking’ Championships are held during the festival, as well as top class entertainment, street parades, seafood trails, celebrated hospitality and the start of many new friendships.

Historically, guests have included director John Huston, actor Bob Hope, golfer Christy O’Connor JR, well known chefs such as Richard Corrigan, Clodagh McKenna and Martin Shanahan, Irish Rugby hero Brian O’Driscoll, current President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, current Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and many more.

Miss it at your ‘pearl’.

For further information please contact the Festival Team  on T: 00 91 394637 or E:info@galwayoysterfestival.com

Festival Highlights


1954 – The first ever festival takes place 1958 – Over 300 guests attend the festival


1960 – 3000 oysters consumed over the weekend which was attended by famed film director John Huston
1968 – The 1st world Oyster Opening Champion is local man John Cummins in a time of 3 mins 34.8 seconds


1971 – 1st UK winner of the oyster opening championship, Sam Scott
1975 – 21st Oyster Festival celebrations with Anita Leslie as Guest of Honour
1977 – Pascal Spellman hosts his last festival show after 23 years. Irelands Willie Morans opens 30 oysters in 1 min 31 seconds – still a world record to this day!


1982 – 40000 oysters consumed
1984 – Festival moves into Galway City as part of the Quincentenial celebrations. The Friendship Band visit the city for first time
1985 – Sir Anthony O’Reilly is Guest of Honour 1987 – The AA Travel Guide lists the festival as one of Europe’s Seven Best Festivals on a par with the Munich Beer Festival


1991 – John Hume Guest of Honour
1993 – Bob Hope attends the festival as Guest of Honour and sings “Thanks for the memories” to an audience on Eyre Square
1994 – Top British travel show “Wish You Were Here” preside over the festival. 10000 revellers attend over the weekend


2000 – The Sunday Times (London) declare the Galway International Oyster Festival as one of the 12 greatest shows on earth
2004 – The Festival, still sponsored by its original sponsors Guinness, celebrates its 50th birthday


2013 – ‘One of Europe’s best summer festivals’ – CNN, ‘One of the best 300 Festivals of the World’ – Fest 300
2014 – The Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival returns to its home in the Spanish Arch for its 60th birthday


2023 – Voted Ireland’s “Best Food Festival” at the Travel2Ireland awards. 

2024-? Make some of your own memories!