Whitstable Oyster Festival
Every July, a seaside town pays homage to its local mollusks with eating contests, a marine-themed parade, and plenty of fresh seafood.
If friends say you’re a fast eater, perhaps you should consider purchasing a flight to England, and joining locals for the Whitstable oyster-eating competition. Whoever can down six oysters and half a pint of beer the fastest takes home the crown.
But that’s not all that takes place during the Whitstable Oyster Festival, an annual July event that pays tribute to the seaside town’s centuries-long history of oyster-harvesting. The competitive culinary event is part of a weekend beach party that kicks off with the ceremonial first catch of the season. After the first batch of oysters is delivered to the mayor and blessed by local clergy on Saturday morning, it’s time to party. The town gathers for a parade, filled with giant colorful sea monsters and an Oyster King and Queen. There are also, of course, plenty of restaurants and stands serving up the local specialty. On Sunday, the artistically minded can help build towers of oyster shells locally known as “grotters.”
In recent years, due to the amount of trash left on the beach and excessive drinking, the city council has shortened the duration of the festival. What used to be a 10-day bash, has whittled down to two days.