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Stranraer Oyster Festival 2024 full Programme Unveiled

Stranraer Oyster Festival 2024 full programme unveiled    

  • Three day festival – 13-15 September 2024 – celebrates Scotland’s last wild, native oyster fishery
  • Kitchen demo programme reunites two TV chef pairings
    • Spice Kings Tony Singh & Cyrus Todiwala
    • Hot Wok stars Julie Lin & Jimmy Lee
  • “Shuck Off!” – the Scottish Oyster Shucking Championship returns
  • 2024 Oysterfest embraces the theme of regeneration – community, ecological and economic

The full programme and celebrity chef line up for Stranraer Oyster Festival has been announced with Scotland’s wild, native oysters taking centre stage in a packed programme that celebrates regeneration and connection.

The much-loved festival, which takes just a short distance from the native oyster bed that inspired it, marks the start of the UK’s native oyster season. It has fast become one of the south of Scotland’s most successful events, attracting thousands of visitors to Stranraer each September.

The 2024 festival programme reunites two TV chef double acts – BBC’s Spice Kings Tony Singh and Cyrus Todiwala, and STV’s Hot Wok stars Julie Lin and Jimmy Lee. They’ll be joined in the festival demo kitchen by Pam Brunton whose multiple award-winning restaurant Inver is the only restaurant in Scotland to receive a Michelin Green Star, which recognises restaurants that combine culinary excellence with outstanding eco-friendly commitments.

Ecosystem and community regeneration are strong themes in this year’s festival. Loch Ryan’s native oyster beds are an ecological treasure and one of the most important oyster beds in Europe. The festival will put the environmental story of their regeneration front and centre through visitor information and displays at this year’s festival. The story of the community-led regeneration of Stranraer will be told too, including how the festival itself has catalysed major regeneration projects in the town.

The Scottish Shucking Championship returns to the festival, with chefs from across Scotland competing in the ‘Shuck Off’ to become Scottish Champion and win their place in the World Shucking Championships in Ireland in late September.

The 2024 festival programme leans strongly into Stranraer’s connection with the water of Loch Ryan. The opening ceremony will see a light procession taking place on the water into the harbourside festival site, culminating in fireworks over Loch Ryan. Local historian Elaine Barton will give a talk on the history of the loch, the popular activity ‘Extreme Pond Dipping’ will give people of all ages the opportunity to see and handle the creatures that live at the bottom of the loch, and throughout the weekend people can enjoy water sports taster sessions.

Stranraer Oyster Festival launched in 2017 as a community-led regeneration project to ‘change the story of Stranraer’ from a story of economic decline to a story of destination opportunity. With six successful festivals delivered, the event has had a cumulative economic impact of more than £7m for the scenic former ferry port in south west Scotland.

The harbourside festival has quickly become one of the south of Scotland’s biggest events, with applications for trader stalls oversubscribed by a factor of three, and expectations are that tickets for the celebrity chef demos will sell out well before the festival takes place.

Romano Petrucci, Chair of Stranraer Development Trust, the community organisation that organises the oyster festival, said:

“We are so excited about the programme for Stranraer Oyster Festival this year. It’s immensely rich in talent, passion and inspiration, and strongly rooted in local place and local produce. Our vision each year has always been to make our next festival ‘bigger and better’. Our focus now is to concentrate on ‘better’ knowing that by doing so ‘bigger’ will follow.

“Stranraer has come a long way in the last few years and the oyster festival is an important part of our town’s transformation. I am so grateful to everyone who has supported this event – from each and every one of our wonderful volunteers to our amazing funders and sponsors. It shows what Stranraer can achieve when we work together, and I look forward to sharing the very best of Stranraer with visitors to our town this September.”

Stranraer Oyster Festival is supported by Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Major Events Strategic Fund, EventScotland’s National Events Funding Programme and South of Scotland Enterprise. The work of Stranraer Development Trust is also supported by Kilgallioch Community Fund.

Stranraer Oyster Festival takes place from Friday 13th to Sunday 15th September 2024. Early Bird Weekend tickets cost £15, and Day Tickets cost from £6, with concessions available. For more information details and to book tickets, head to www.stranraeroysterfestival.com

Stranraer Oyster Festival 13-15 September 2024 Programme Highlights

The Return of The Spice Men

Ten years ago, acclaimed chefs Tony Singh and Cyrus Todiwala set out on a mission to wake Britain up to the versatility of spices with their hit BBC TV show The Incredible Spice Men. They’re reuniting at Stranraer Oyster Festival for two special events on the Friday and Saturday evenings of the festival. These special events are strictly limited to only 100 people, with lots of opportunities for audience interaction and conversation, and tickets include a glass of Prosecco on arrival and delicious canapes. Tony and Cyrus are also doing individual cookery demos on Saturday afternoon.

Julie & Jimmy’s Sizzling Woks

Another TV double-act, Julie Lin and Jimmy Lee are two of TV’s most exciting new stars – Julie is a regular on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen Live while Jimmy contributes to ITV’s This Morning. They collaborated as hosts of STV’s hit show Julie and Jimmy’s Hot Woks and they’re reuniting at Stranraer Oyster Festival for a Saturday afternoon treat that’s sure to be filled with fun, flavour and lots of laughs! This exclusive event is limited to 100 people with Prosecco and canapes to enjoy as Julie and Jimmy show you how to make some of their favourite Chinese and East Asian takeaway dishes at home. Both chefs are also doing individual cookery demos on Friday and Sunday

Scottish Shucking Championship

The ‘Shuck Off’ returns to Stranraer Oyster Festival, pitting chefs, oyster growers, producers, fishermen and industry professionals against each other in a bid to claim the title of Scottish Oyster Shucking Champion! The winner will go on to represent Scotland at the World Oyster Opening Championships in Galway, Ireland. The Championship takes place from 12.30pm-2pm on Saturday 14th September, compered by Chef Andy Cummings.  

Opening Parade

A bright and lively twilight parade to mark the start of the oyster harvesting season, led by the Vital Spark oyster boat, includes participation from the young people of Stranraer, a dazzling fling from the Lochryan Highland Dance Events Group, culminating in a firework display.

A Book Launch & Brunch

Acclaimed Scottish chef Pam Brunton has chosen Stranraer Oyster Festival as one of the launch events for her stunning new book ‘Between Two Waters’. Part memoir, part manifesto on the future of feeding the world, it documents the difficult early days of her now multiple award-winning restaurant Inver – the only restaurant in Scotland to receive a Michelin Green Star. Pam will be sharing her passions and philosophy, deeply rooted in sustainability and sense of place, at various events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Oyster Bar

The Oyster Bar is where festival-goers can indulge in the real stars of Stranraer Oyster Festival – the oysters themselves! There’s Loch Ryan natives available to try, as well as farmed rock oysters. For anyone trying oysters for the first time, the Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery team are happy to spend time offering advice and tips about how best to enjoy them.

Extreme Pond Dipping

This is pond dipping like no other! The crew of the oyster boat, the Vital Spark, head out to the oyster bed and bring back to shore everything they find to give visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with the aquatic life that lives in Loch Ryan. Visitors of all ages will be able to see and handle some of the creatures, which often includes crabs and starfish, as well as oysters.