Second oyster festival starts today in Stranraer

Festival coordinator Allana Hardie tries one of the first oysters of the season.
Festival coordinator Allana Hardie tries one of the first oysters of the season.

The second Stranraer Oyster Festival takes place this weekend featuring five thousand oysters, four huge weather-proof marquees, three days of festivities, two days of demos by top chefs including Nick Nairn and one winner at the Scottish Oyster Shucking Championship final!

The launch event, which takes place this evening (Friday, September 14), will include Scotland’s native oysters being landed by boat and piped ashore, followed by a seafood street-food event and spectacular fireworks display over Loch Ryan.

Chair of Stranraer Development Trust, the group that organises the festival, Romano Petrucci said: “Our whole town has come together to put on an amazing programme of events, there is so much to see and do, particularly for families and young people, and we can’t wait to welcome people to Stranraer.

“Our amazing native oysters may be the focal point, but our festival is a celebration of everything that is delicious in and around Stranraer, including our local gin distilleries, craft breweries and local food producers and crafters, so you don’t need to like seafood to enjoy it.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Stranraer Oyster Festival for the first time, through our National Events Programme. The Festival team has developed a fantastic programme of events, showcasing the region’s rich heritage, local seafood and home-grown produce. It is also great to see the festival embracing Scotland’s Year of Young People with a variety of activities on offer for young people to enjoy and get involved in.”

Stranraer Oyster Festival is designed around celebrating Scotland’s last remaining wild, native oyster fishery, which lies in Loch Ryan. The native oyster was once widespread around Scotland and much of the UK but has been harvested to near extinction which means almost all other oysters for sale in the UK come from oyster farms.

It was feared the exclusion zone around Ayr Railway Station would hit festival travellers, with no trains currently running to Stranraer. However festival organisers highlighted that the town is still accessible by public transport via bus and ferry, with special day trips from Ireland being organised by Stena Line.

The full programme is on www.stranraeroysterfestival.com

Programme Highlights

For Foodies

The Seafood Celebration Marquee, funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the Scottish Government, will celebrate local seafood with a tempting array of seafood street food. Chef demonstrations, including from Nick Nairn, will be taking place throughout the weekend with chefs focussing heavily on creating inspirational seafood themed menus and dishes. The huge Makers Market will include more than twenty artisan food producers selling everything from locally smoked wild salmon to award winning local gin distilled with locally foraged botanicals, alongside a wide selection of locally produced crafts.

For Oyster Fans

The Shuck Off on Saturday is a must see for anyone with an interest in oysters. As well as the thrill of the fast paced competition, spectators will be treated to entertaining demonstrations, information and tastings with expert Shucker Paddy. Tristan Hugh-Jones of Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery, winner of last year’s Shuck Off, will be leading a talk all about oysters, as well as offering oyster and champagne experiences throughout the weekend. For those with a tough stomach and a competitive spirit, there’s also an oyster eating competition.

For Families

Samsam Bubbleman is the headline children’s entertainer but the whole weekend is filled with family fun and children’s activities in recognition of 2018 being Scotland’s Year of Young People. The Children’s Marquee will provide family friendly activities throughout the weekend; from circus skills and storytelling to oyster shell crafts and kite making.

FRIDAY FAMILY NIGHT 14TH SEPTEMBER

We’re opening this year’s Stranraer Oyster Festival with an evening of activities designed for the whole family to enjoy, including a wealth of delicious local food and drink prepared by fantastic local chefs. So forget about making dinner, head down to the harbour and get stuck into the festivities!

6PM-6.30PM OPENING CEREMONY, HARBOUR

Stranraer Oyster Festival gets off to a spectacular start when we welcome the Vital Spark, our local oyster boat, into the harbour where it will sound its horn to mark the start of the festival. The oysters on Friday night will be landed by the crew of the Vital Spark, skipper Robert Lamont and John Mills. They will then be piped ashore to our Seafood Celebration Marquee by a lone piper from Loch Ryan Pipe Band. The ceremony will conclude with Ode to the Oysters, performed by Sandy McKnight followed by a performance by performance from the 400 Choir in the Seafood Celebration Marquee.

6.30PM-10PM SEAFOOD STREET FOOD AND LIVE MUSIC, SEAFOOD CELEBRATION MARQUEE

Friday’s opening celebrations will be packed with local flavour in a celebration of local seafood with live music till late. Grab a seat and a bite to eat and enjoy the celebratory atmosphere as we welcome our Oyster Festival back for its second year with live music and lots of family fun.

6.30PM-7.30PM ROAD RUNNER PERFORMANCE, CHILDREN’S MARQUEE

Younger children will love the antics of award winning entertainer the Road Runner who will get everyone moving and laughing in the Children’s Marquee straight after the opening ceremony.

7.45PM-8.45PM SILENT DISCO WITH JOHN MUNRO, CHILDREN’S MARQUEE

Older children and teens are invited to grab a pair of headphones and join in a silent disco! Rather than using a speaker system, the music will be transmitted to wireless LED headphones providing an immersive music experience for those taking part. No need to book, just turn up, join in and get dancing!

9PM FIREWORKS, EAST PIER

We’re lighting up the sky above Loch Ryan with a spectacular fireworks display at 9pm to mark the opening of Stranraer Oyster Festival.