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Whitstable Oyster Festival 2017 at Tankerton Slopes

By Angela Cole

A seaside delight is coming your way this weekend.

The annual Whitstable Oyster Festival, which attracts tens of thousands to celebrate the mighty mollusc, will this year come in a slightly slimmed-down version, with many events in its new home on Tankerton Slopes.

Starting with its traditional opening ceremony today, it runs through to Monday, July 24.

The traditional landing of the oysters
The traditional landing of the oysters
Last year's festival
Last year's festival

From making models to parade in, drawing and singing about oysters, to eating them and even building small structures with them, the marine dweller gets more than its 15 minutes of fame over the course of the festival.

Local youngsters have been busy for the past week making and decorating papier mache masks and fish for a seafront procession on Saturday.

The event features parades and spectacles, live music, arts and crafts and the chance to sink young teeth into a taster of seaside life, from crabbing to kite flying.

The Whitstable Oyster Festival parade
The Whitstable Oyster Festival parade

Saturday, July 22

Landing of the Oysters

The traditional, and historic, ceremony sees the bless of the first catch of the season on East Quay Beach from 12.45pm, with the haul being brought to shore by the Sea Scouts, presented to the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, before being blessed by the church. The oysters are then presented, ready for the procession to head to Tankerton Slopes.

Seafront Procession

This starts at around 1.30pm, heading along from the East Quay, along the promenade, culminating at a food fair.

Oyster Eating Challenge

For those with strong stomachs – the oyster eating challenge is for all levels of eaters from newbies to natives. Held on the festival stage, it’s a race to the finish with half a dozen oysters and half a pint to be consumed in the quickest time. Registration opens at noon at the festival bar, and is limited to 36 competitors. Held at 3.30pm, entry is £6.

Sunday, July 23

The Festival Stage

The 1st Whitstable Scout Band, the Useless Pluckers, Fred Clark, Matt Appleby, High Tide, King Ziggy, Brendan Power & Joe Jones and The Matt Whitey Trio will all appear on the stage. Free and running from 10.00am.

Mud Tug

Held at Long Beach, the epic struggle where both sides get coated in the same amount of mud, arrives at 6.30pm.

Monday, July 24

There’s a Whitstabubble Picnic Party for the youngsters from 11.30am at Tankerton Slopes, followed by Let’s Go Fly a Kite at 1pm. The day is rounded off with crabbing at 3pm on Horsebridge Beach and – unique to Whitstable – Grotters at 4pm is a tradition where you can grab a bucket of oyster shells and building a structure with them, and as the evening draws in, the sea front becomes illuminated as they are lit by candlelight.


The Whitstable Oyster Festival runs from Saturday, July 22 to Monday, July 24, with the support and sponsorship of local businesses and the Whitstable Oyster Association.
For details and the full programme go to whitstableoysterfestival.co.uk

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