Falmouth Oyster Festival celebrates the start of the oyster-dredging season, which runs from October to March.  Devoted to the mighty mollusc, the festival highlights the traditional methods of harvesting, using only sail and oar, and champions the native Fal oyster.

This year, the festival once again took place in the picturesque setting of The Waterfront Marquee, located on Church Street Car Park.

Transforming the car park into Falmouth’s exciting Waterfront event venue, the festival site encapsulates the beautiful backdrop of Falmouth harbour.

All information about how to get to Falmouth and where to stay can be found on the Falmouth visitor website.

Born to Shuck

For over a century, Cornish families have derived their livelihood from oyster dredging in the Carrick Roads and surrounding rivers. Governed by ancient laws that were put in place to protect the natural ecology of the riverbeds and oyster stocks, oystermen fishing in the Port of Truro Oyster Fishery are prohibited from using engines. Instead, sail power and hand-pulled dredges must be used. This is the only oyster fishery in Europe, if not the world, where such traditional methods must be used.

Oyster Dredgers

The Working Boats range in size from 22ft to 30ft and have the original gaff cutter rig. The oyster beds, or lays, are marked by sticks, or ‘withies’, that protrude from the water. The fishermen rely on the tides, wind, their skill, and local knowledge of the fishing waters to dredge for oysters. Once caught, the oysters are purified for 36 hours before being sold. Some oysters are returned to beds to fatten, and can be sold after the close of the oyster season.

Working Boat Race

During the summer months, the Working Boats may be seen racing in the Carrick Roads. The racing rig is far larger than the rig used for fishing, and these gracious vessels create a truly magnificent spectacle as they race at close quarters under full sail. The Oyster Working Boat Race is an integral part of Falmouth Oyster Festival and is one of the last races of the season.

The Fal oyster beds…

are open for anyone to have a go.  Not recommended though.  It takes years to learn the tricky ways of the wind and local tides – and don’t expect much of a helping hand from the locals.  The fishermen are tighter lipped than the oysters they catch.

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