Seafood festival Aquarius to put spotlight on sustainable practices

Aquarius will have locally sourced, single-line or net-caught seafood for purchase.
Aquarius will have locally sourced, single-line or net-caught seafood for purchase. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer

This festival aims to both educate and entertain.

The second annual celebration of sustainable seafood and cocktails, Aquarius, returns to The Foundry in Long Island City on Jan. 26.

In addition to hosting sustainable seafood purveyors, craft cocktails, live music and dance will be on hand for guests to enjoy.

amNewYork spoke with Aquarius co-founder Tyler Hollinger of HighLife Productions, an event production company, about the inspiration for the festival and this year’s highlights.

Drinks are included in admission.
Drinks are included in admission. Photo Credit: Aquarius

What was the inspiration behind the founding of Aquarius as a sustainable seafood festival?

The inspiration really lies in the fact that sustainable seafood isn’t on the minds of people the way it should be. It’s emerging, but it’s not the standard. We see the way organic food has taken over — that’s the level that sustainable seafood should be on. People should be educated about farming techniques and the health benefits. Sustainable seafood can be affordable and accessible, people just have to know what to look for. It’s also a taste buds thing. Sustainable seafood tastes way better than factory-farmed fish. So, we wanted to start an educational awareness event.

How did you link with The Foundry to host the event there?

The folks at The Foundry are good friends of mine and it’s an exceptionally beautiful venue, but people don’t usually get to go see it unless they’re going to a private event. And the festival itself is spectacular. There are so many food and beverage events in the city, but we want to affect people on a deeper level. We want people to experience the event for as fun as it is while also promoting sustainability as a way of life.

How has Aquarius grown since it debuted last year?

There were about 380 people who attended last year, and we expect close to 500 at this one. And there was just one restaurant vendor last year, while this year we have four.

What event highlights can attendees expect?

We’ll have activations and sponsors Barr Hill Vodka, which is organic vodka made from bee’s honey in Vermont. They’re doing three different cocktails. Coney Island Brewery is the official beer on record for the event. Their Mermaid Pilsner pairs nicely with the sea theme of Aquarius. We’ll also have a full raw bar with Scotch pairings, seafood purveyors offering locally sourced, single-line or net-caught seafood for purchase and fantastic restaurant vendors like Kellari [Seafood Taverna] and Ca’Pisci.

We’ll also have amazing performances. [Brass band] Hudson Horns is headlining, there will be burlesque, two DJs in different rooms, electric violin performances and the interactive Winter Wolf Ballet experience, which is in the style of “Sleep No More.”  


Aquarius is Jan. 26 from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. at The Foundry | 42-42 Ninth St., Long Island City | tickets $125-$150 (include drinks, access to performances and after-party at the next-door Ravel Hotel; food available for purchase) at secretsummernyc.com/aquarius