Across the world the British and Irish are known affectionately for their eccentricities and there is no better way to highlight this side of our character than to invite you to celebrate some of our more quintessentially quirky festivals.
Happening throughout the seasons and across the land from the Highlands to an Island and Ireland experience warm hospitality, centuries of history and culture, fabulous scenery and some truly unusual events featuring homegrown produce and local talent.
Connemara Mussel Festival – Galway – May Bank Holiday
Showcasing mussels harvested from Killary Harbour join for this multi-day festival based in Tullycross on the Renvyle Peninsula. The Peninsula is home to some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes from mountains and sweeping beaches to a Castle and portal tomb it is also somewhere that bird and marine life abounds. Festival activities include cooking competitions and demonstrations, mussel walks, and a seafood gala dinner. Culturally it will introduce visitors to the most traditional of Irish pastimes; folk music, storytelling, and set dancing.
Dalemain Marmalade Awards and Festival – Lake District – May
Hosted at Dalemain, and the brainchild of Jane Hasell-McCosh, these awards were established as a way of exhibiting and conserving the very British tradition of marmalade making. Dalemain Mansion already has in its archives a treasure trove of recipes but, via this event, it is inspiring a global audience to create their own new delicacies. The jovial festival that will return later this Spring includes tastings, stalls, activities, and lectures and offers the chance to visit one of the England’s most impressive stately homes and gardens.
Isle of Wight Garlic Festival – Isle of Wight – August
Follow your nose as head through the rolling green hills to Newchurch; home to the well-established Garlic Festival. Owning to the success of the eponymously named nearby Garlic Farm this pungent bulb is now one of the most famous exports from the Island. Cooking demonstrations and tasters from beer to ice cream await as do traditional fete activities such as a dog show. As you wander through the marquees you may also be lucky enough to encounter the Garlic Queen, crowned in a nod to the Island’s Carnival tradition.
Stranraer Oyster Festival – Dumfries and Galloway – September
Gazing across Loch Ryan from Stranraer Harbour it is hard to imagine a more perfect backdrop for this festival which celebrates Scotland’s last remaining wild, native oyster fishery. The Loch Ryan Oyster Beds date back to 1701 when King William III granted a Royal Charter to the Wallace Family who, with a little outside help, still sustainably breed, manage, and harvest the oysters exhibited. From shucking and eating competitions and celebrity chef appearances to stalls selling local produce and crafts there’s plenty to entertain everyone.
Golden Spurtle® World Porridge Making Championship® – Highlands – October
Dr Samuel Johnson once wrote that oats were "a grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people"; with true Scottish stoicism the folk of Carrbridge have borne what could have been an insult and now host an annual celebration of the humble dish. The title and Golden Spurtle® are awarded to the competitor judged to have created the best bowl using oats, water, and salt only whilst the Speciality Award encourages ‘spurtlers’ to get creative with sweet, savoury and even baked versions. Ith gu leòir!
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