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The only month-long festival in Ireland is open for business

Friday 7th June 2019 at 9am 0 Comments Comedy , Drama , Film & TV , Literature , Northern Ireland Music , Visual Arts

Launching the programme for the 7th Open House Festival in Bangor Image: Launching the programme for the 7th Open House Festival in Bangor

King of the chat show sofa, Sir Michael Parkinson, leading forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes, and BBC Radio 6 Music’s poet-in-residence Murray Lachlan Young are among the multitude of artists and performers joining The Specials, Villagers and The Staves at this year’s Open House Festival Bangor in August.

The 2019 programme for the only month-long festival in Ireland, which was launched today, features 163 events in 46 venues over the 31 days of August, with over 600 performers, participants and producers taking part. 

This will be the 7th annual Bangor Festival, which has more than tripled in size since 2013 and continues to re-establish Bangor as a thriving seaside town. It has become known for combining headline national and international artists with local musicians, writers, chefs and other creatives, and for curating bespoke events such as Folk on a Boat, Island Picnic and the Bangor Rocks Musical Bus Tour – a 90-minute trip that takes in the birth places and stomping grounds of some of Bangor’s most famous musical offspring, including Snow Patrol, Foy Vance and Two Door Cinema Club.

Northern Irish participants this year include three Bangor playwrights, including Carol Moore who is one of this year’s Arts Council Major Individual Artist recipients, DJs Bobby Analog and Mark Blair, Ronnie Greer with his Blues Band, and author and former Newcastle United player, author Paul Ferris. Another event with a Bangor connection concerns internationally acclaimed artist and video maker Charlie Whisker who was born in the town. His former partner, Dublin author Julia Kelly, will be talking about her book, Matchstick Man, which details Charlie’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

“As well as being our biggest, this year’s festival is probably our most eclectic yet,” said Festival Director, Kieran Gilmore. “Aside from welcoming such household names as Sir Michael Parkinson and Alan Johnson, and ska legends The Specials, it is a true celebration of Northern Ireland’s rich cultural heritage and particularly embraces Bangor’s vibrant creative scene. Alongside multiple music, literary and theatre events we have Irish whiskey tastings, lots of quirky food events showcasing local produce, a local brewery Taproom takeover and tasting events in Donaghadee’s brand new Copeland Distillery.”

Around 45,000 people are expected to visit the festival throughout August. Tickets start at just £5 and more than one third of the 163 events are free.

Stephen Reid, Chief Executive, Ards and North Down Borough Council, said:

“If you thought last year’s Open House Festival was good, this year is going to be even better! Since the first Open House Festival in 2013, it has continued to grow year on year, bringing an exciting mix of international artists, home-grown talent and household names to our Borough. Local businesses, visitor attractions and accommodation providers all reap the benefits. Last year’s Open House Festival injected an estimated £2.1m into our local economy – a figure that I’m confident will grow even larger in 2019. I hope all of our residents and visitors to the Borough enjoy the many events on offer and to all those involved, I’d like to wish you a splendid seventh Festival!”

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“Open House Festival, now in its 7th year, has firmly established itself as an annual summer highlight in Bangor attracting high-quality, world-class international acts and visitors to the town. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support this terrific festival which demonstrates the power of the arts in bringing people and communities closer together as well as being a tool for economic regeneration.”

Tourism NI’s Chairman Terence Brannigan said:

“Tourism NI is pleased to support the Open House Festival as it enters its seventh year. August will bring a whole month of music, theatre, comedy, film and more to Bangor, with headline performances from an eclectic range of local and international acts. Over 160 events are lined up across the 40 venues, drawing thousands of local and international visitors to North Down for this home-grown festival which works with local businesses to provide a distinctive Northern Ireland experience. Events such as the Open House Festival are valuable in generating significant economic benefit and helping to boost the profile of tourism in Northern Ireland. My best wishes for another successful year go to the organising team, their sponsors and all the participants and attendees.”

For full details of the 2019 programme, go to:


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