Hillsborough International Oyster Festival Celebrates 21st Birthday


The world-renowned Hillsborough International Oyster Festival running from the 3-8 September 2013 has launched its biggest ever programme of events to mark its coming of age.

Plans for this milestone anniversary are well underway with the picturesque town in County Down gearing up to host one of its biggest and most dazzling Festival programmes yet.   Now in its twenty-first year, the Festival is already one of the largest celebrations of local food, culture and entertainment in the country.

[caption id="attachment_41369" align="alignleft" width="390"]Imogen Armstrong (4), Emma Wallace (4) and Quinn Armstrong (6) are pictured at the launch of the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival’s biggest ever programme of events.  (Photo Darren KIdd/Presseye). Imogen Armstrong (4), Emma Wallace (4) and Quinn Armstrong (6) are pictured at the launch of the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival’s biggest ever programme of events. (Photo Darren KIdd/Presseye).[/caption]

Despite the name, oysters are no longer the only selling point. As well as a scrumptious celebration of the shelled delicacies, this year the Festival schedule includes a broad range of events, entertainment and performances set to delight families, foodies, film buffs, fashionistas and fun-lovers alike.

Visitors descending on Hillsborough for the World Oyster Eating Championship will this year see reigning champion and ‘Oyster King’, Colin Shirlow from County Down, challenged by not one but two international competitors in a case of ‘local hero versus the professional contenders’.

Enduring family favourites also make a return to the Festival bill this year including the Castle Fun Day, Multi-Cultural Procession and Wacky Soapbox Race.  Sports fans won’t be disappointed with Super Car Sunday, Oysters Masters Golf and a Charity Cycle Ride.

The Festival line-up also includes cookery demonstrations by leading local chefs and a Gourmet Food Market brimming with local seafood and Northern Ireland produce.

A bumper entertainment schedule includes a show-stopping ‘Nite at the Flicks’ featuring the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the iridescent ‘Diamonds & Pearls Fashion Show’ and a special Festival Concert featuring the inimitable Flash Harry.

It’s a case of lights, camera, action…for one of the most eagerly awaited events on the Northern Ireland social calendar.  The Festival’s banquet and ball is this year themed around ‘A Night at the Oscars’ with guests welcome to indulge their A-list fantasies with an evening of Hollywood style and glamour.

With thousands of visitors expected to travel from far and wide to enjoy the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival experience, there is something for children and parents alike in 2013, making it an event not to be missed in its 21st year.

And, if fun and festivities weren’t enough, Festival-goers can take pride in the knowledge they are also supporting local charitable causes. Throughout its 21-year history, the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival has also raised nearly £500,000 for local charities and this year it is supporting the Jill Todd Trust working in partnership with the Friends of the Cancer Centre.   Friends, which is based at the Cancer Centre in Belfast City Hospital, funds innovative research posts, provides clinical nurse specialists and delivers complimentary therapies and relaxation classes for cancer patients and their families across Northern Ireland.

Festival Chairman Sean Hall said: “If you haven’t joined us at Hillsborough Oyster Festival before, this is the year to do it!  We have one of our biggest ever programmes and it all takes place in one of the most beautiful towns in the world. Every year we welcome more and more visitors from across Northern Ireland and further afield but as this is our twenty first year. I’d say it’s never been a better time to and experience a Festival full of atmosphere.”

Hillsborough International Oyster Festival 2013 is supported by Tourism Ireland, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Lisburn City Council, South  Eastern Regional College (SERC) and Champagne Pol Roger. The Festival was commended in the Best Event/Festival Category at the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards 2013.

For a complete guide to the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival 2013, including online ticket purchases, visit: