The Whitstable Oyster Festival

Continues along harbor

So we happened to be staying in Whitstable during their big summer celebration:  the Oyster Festival.  Apparently, this event is becoming much more well-known among the English, and people now flock here by the thousands to partake in the festivities during the week-long festival.  The big stuff happens on the first Saturday and Sunday.  Things like the “Bringing in of the Oyster Catch”.  This is done by two guys in outfits from the 1800s, and a yoke to carry the oysters from the oyster traps.  NB: It must happen at low-tide, so today it didn’t happen until 5:30 in the afternoon.  Immediately following this historic ceremony is the parade through town.  The historic significance of this has to do with blessing the oyster catch, bringing it through town with the clergy, and ceremonially handing an oyster to all the merchants and restaurateurs in town to assure a prosperous season (or something like that).  Behind the oysters and clergy are the “bands”, the fancy-dress school kids and locals, jesters, giants, people with dogs, and various charities collecting change.  Utterly charming, and excellently short.

We spent the day exploring the various (and MANY) food and drink stands in the harbour area, discovering an awesome new play area for the kids near the Whitstable Castle (post on that later), and after a nap and a fabulous dinner of whole roasted chicken & veg, we stepped out our door, walked half a block, and watched the parade.  We had local fish and chips for lunch, found some delicious local plums, hard cider, and a lavender shortbread cookie, and will investigate the culinary offerings further tomorrow.  We’re not fresh oyster fans, so no oysters for us, most likely.  Here are some photos of the day:

These guys are called “Morris Dancers”, and this is an old tradition in England. They play music and do very peculiar dances with sticks and swords, and they have bells on their shoes and feathers in their hats. Some paint their faces black — have no idea why.
Encountering locals as we near the harbor

The hard-working boats of Whitstable:
Harbor drains at low tide

High and dry at low tide
It is the oyster festival, after all

And lots of other seafood treats. This is inside the biggest fish market, aptly named, “The Fish Market”.
Can get lots of other seafood too
One of the fish shops

Everything from frozen to fried

And local Kentish fruit. Delish!
Even some produce

Cute T-shirts. We got matching ones for the kids.
Shirts for the kids

Our yummy harborside lunch of local cod and chips
Fish and chips, of course

Oyster boats
Can't resist a harbor shot

Interesting and international selection of foods at the “EPIcenter” food fair”. Paella!
Huge pan of paella!

And something we’ll sample tomorrow: whole roast pig!
Goin' whole hog

Farther down the beach, near the other end of town, are these adorable beach cottages. They don’t really look big enough for anyone to sleep in, yet they sell for around $35K!!!
Beach shacks past the harbor
More colorful
Even more colorful

Some great pubs/restaurants/hotels down at this end of town. Must have tea down here some time.
Old inn at the end of the walk

Whitstable Castle. Dates to 1700s.
Whitstable castle

Small garden at the castle

The Whitstable Lawn Bowling Club in the castle grounds:
Lawn bowling -- how British!

And the most important part: the play ground!
Charlie can't get enough
Charlie was throwing himself around, even INTO other kids!
Lessons in physics

The parade!
Scouts lead with symbolic oysters
No idea who these folks are
Old man of the sea?
Bubble extravaganza
Jester stops to visit with dog
Old maiden of the sea?
These kids were my favorite!
They're huge

This entry was posted in England, Food, Twins, Whitstable. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Whitstable Oyster Festival

  1. susan says:

    “Must have tea here sometime.” You sound so British! 🙂

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