Ireland's food festivals
The above quote might sound like a sweeping statement, but when you consider that the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival has been shucking oysters since 1954 (making it one of Europe’s longest-running food extravaganzas) it doesn't sound so incredible.
One thing’s for sure, Ireland enjoys celebrating its local food and drink. Once, there were about 20 food festivals on the calendar; now that number had doubled with festivals being held everywhere from Kinsale to Kilkeel.
Food festivals come in many different flavours, but their chief ingredient is a celebration of innovative and traditional Irish foods and the local producers, chefs and restaurateurs that champion these food experiences.
Armagh in Northern Ireland throws a Food and Cider Weekend in September to celebrate its abundant apple harvest. And against the natural backdrop of the lunar landscape of the Burren in County Clare, The Burren Slow Food Festival in May advocates sustainable food production and tradition.
Shellfish lovers should watch out for the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival in May. Then of course there's the high point of September’s Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival, described by Rough Guides as "Ireland’s longest-running and greatest gourmet extravaganza".
Expect plenty of festival fun along with the World Oyster Opening Championship, where competitive oyster shuckers battle to be named the World Champion. Oyster season finishes with the Clarenbridge Oyster Festival, where a sheltered Galway Bay and delicate ratio of fresh and salt water makes for a delicious oyster offering.
September also brings the Waterford Harvest Festival, a foodie extravaganza for a city with its very own bread (blaa – a fluffy bread roll). This is one of Ireland’s top food festivals and every year they show the world why Waterford is a food destination to be reckoned with. With its rich food culture and heritage, quality restaurants and eateries, and passionate food producers, the event is a showcase for everything that’s good about food in Ireland’s south east.