Shuckers at Stranraer Oyster Festival
credit: Pete Robinson

Stranraer Oyster Festival 2024

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. 

Tony Singh demonstrates at Stranraer Oyster Festival

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credit: Pete Robinson