Whitstable Oyster festival welcomes motorhomers
The Whitstable Oyster festival has two new additions to the roster this year. Firstly there is a new showcase restaurant, bar and performance venue called The Shuck, which will be featuring the Cuban Brothers.Second, it’s good news for those interested in staying over at the event because a new camping area has been opened and motorhomers are welcome. The Oyster Bed campsite opens 2pm on 24 July and closes at noon on 3 August. It overlooks Whitstable Bay and comes complete with everything you need for a family trip to the seaside and is superbly located for easy access in and out of Whitstable. The campsite is aimed at families and people looking for a relaxed environment to pitch a tent or pull up a motorhome or caravan.
Facilities include hot showers, communal washing up area, pamper parlour for plugging in a hair dryer, kids play area, 24-hour security and a café and shop. There are a handful of electric hook ups for motorhomes, on a first come, first saved basis.
When booking, you need to specify how many people will be camping, then add the motorhome option on as a supplementary £10 charge. The electric is an additional £6. Prices start at £25 for two people per night. You can book tickets online through TicketLine.
The week-long festival, a colourful celebration packed with food and drink, music, parades, competitions, and many many other great events, is actually a modern revival of an ancient holy festival dating way back to Norman times.
Back then Whitstable had already established itself as a fishing port and the local fishermen and dredgers held annual ceremonies of thanksgiving, not just for the success of the harvest, but also as thanksgiving for their survival at sea. Being practical, and so as not to interrupt their busy seasons, the Whitstable fishers held these celebrations during the slack period for oyster harvesting. This explains why even today, you’ll find the festival is held in the summer, outside of the season for eating the Whitstable native oysters.
As a Holy Day the original Festival would have included a formal church service followed by abundant feasting, dancing and games play. The exact form of the original ceremony is not completely clear, but would probably have centered on a formal blessing of the town, the sea, the fishing fleet, and indeed, the fishermen and dredgers themselves.
Today’s celebration symbolically recreates the ‘Landing of the Oysters’. When Whitstable’s very own Sea Scouts land the oysters, which then go on receive a formal ‘Blessing’ before being presented to the Lord Mayor. The blessed oysters are then distributed to the town’s inns, bars and restaurants via the vibrant and colourful Festival Parade as it travels through the historic centre.
For the following seven jam packed days, Whitstable continues to celebrate. There are food festivals, music and comedy, giant beach-side screenings, children’s activities, recitals, cinema screenings, oyster eating competitions and mud tugs take place across the town’s beaches, harbour and parks. In fact over 80 events take place across the week. Discover more about the Whitstable Oyster Festival.
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