The Knysna Oyster Festival is a household name in South Africa. But just how did the Festival start, and why is it called the Knysna Oyster Festival?
It all started as the “Winter Festival” in 1983 to bring business to town during the quiet winter period, and since then it has grown to a 10-day Festival that attracts thousands of people to Knysna.
From Winter Festival To Oyster Festival
Oyster farming started in the Knysna lagoon at the beginning of the 80’s and it was not long before it was named “The Knysna Oyster Festival”, about 30 years ago.
The cultivated oysters were popular with locals and visitors alike, but the operation was never really viable financially, socially, or environmentally. Conditions in the lagoon were not exactly suitable for oyster farming and oyster beds often silted up, and when permits were not renewed in 2010, all cultivated oysters were removed from the lagoon.
There may not be any oysters in the Knysna lagoon anymore, but the coastline around Knysna have ample coastal oysters – born and bred in the Knysna area! “Salty, sweet, buttery, briny” – there are many ways to describe an oyster. Tasting one can be a life changing experience – you either order another 12 immediately, or you decide “never again”. In Knysna, and certainly at the Knysna Oyster Festival, we always order “12 more please”! It is a mecca for oyster lovers – these days they come with delectable toppings – oyster ceviche, Asian oysters, Sushi oysters, Panko fried oysters – gourmet oysters for the oyster gourmands!
And cultivated oysters? They are still available, and most are brought in from Port Elizabeth and Agulhas. Thousands of oysters are sold during the Knysna Oyster Festival and cultivated oysters are key to ensure the sustainability of the wild oysters along our coastline.
So, when in Knysna, keep on trying both. And celebrate the KNYSNA OYSTER FESTIVAL in all its glory, whether its sport with oysters on the side, or oysters with sport on the side! Or even – heaven forbid – no oysters! We’re joking! Maybe.. 😊
See you in Knysna in July!
The 2022 Festival
1 – 10 July
Cycle – Trail Running – Running – Golf – Art – Fun Activities
Schedule of events – www.knysnaoysterfestival.co.za
Facebook: @KnysnaOysterFestival Instagram: @knysnaoysterfestival Twitter: @oysterfestival