Oysters were some of the original Native New Yorkers, you know, having clung to rocks and other semi-stationary bodies in our river beds for hundreds of years. Their very important role in our ecosystem makes their very important role in our bellies even more special and leads us to the yearly celebration of the most wonderful of bivalves: New York Oyster Week. Beginning on September 11th and ending on the 28th—the "week" is actually more than two—we raise a glass and a very sharp shucking knife to these precious creatures; here's how to partake in the merriment.

The kickoff Brooklyn Oyster Riot event on the 11th brings the oystermen (and women!) from both coasts to discuss their livelihoods and the different oysters they grow, forage and distribute. Slurp freshly shucked oysters amidst the lush gardens of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens at their lovely Palm House; there's also an open wine, beer and cocktail bar included in the ticket price, like the special Blue Point Oyster Stout made with actual oysters.

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(Scoboco/Flickr)

Given oyster's natural habitats, it makes sense to enjoy some time out on the water at the AHOYSTERS event at new Tribeca hot ship Grand Banks. Once aboard, nosh on oysters (naturally) and chat with oyster divers and other local oyster folks. The casual gathering begins at 6 p.m. on the 16th.

If you'd like to get a little farther away from the dock, check out the New York Harbor Regatta and Regatta Bash at Governor's Island, which includes a sail around the New York Harbor and a big 'ole party afterwards. The sail begins at 1 p.m. on the 19th and goes through the night with live reggae, strong rum drinks and Fishers Island Oysters. Proceeds from this even benefit students of the Harbor School, NYC's only public maritime high school.

The week's biggest event goes down at the Stone Street Oyster Festival, the largest outdoor oyster festival in Manhattan that's now celebrating its 11th year. Organizers are expecting 10,000 bivalve fanatics to descend on the Financial District street eager to slurp up the nearly 35,000 oysters being shucked by restaurants in the area. They'll also be attempting to beat the Guinness Book of World Record for the Most Oyster Shell Recovered from a Single Day Oyster Event so...come hungry!

Check out the full schedule of events for other ways to get your brine on; additionally, dozens of restaurants are offering special oyster-driven dishes and specials throughout the celebratory weeks.