Creative Peninsula offers two weeks of arts and crafts opportunities for all ages

Booking is now open for Ards and North Down's annual celebration of artistry which returns with a wealth of activities from August 3-15

Abstract artist Susanna Banks showcases a range of colourful prints to Mayor of Ards and North Down, Cllr Richard Smart

Northern Ireland's largest annual celebration of art and craft has launched its packed programme for 2018, with dozens of events and opportunities across Ards and North Down. Now in its 17th year, Creative Peninsula brings together local artists and craftspeople to demonstrate their skills and showcase their work, as well as offering people of all ages the chance to learn about and 'try their hand' at different disciplines.

Organised by Ards and North Down Borough Council, the event runs from Friday 3 until Wednesday 15 August and features both free and bookable workshops, open studios, tours, exhibitions, demonstrations and more. It's described as being 'an ideal way to experience what the local art and craft industries have to offer'.

The programme kicks-off with ‘Creative Peninsula in the Square’ at Conway Square in Newtownards on August 3. For one day only the space will be transformed into a tented arts and crafts village with more than 30 artists and makers displaying and selling their work. Free demonstrations including throwing on a potter’s wheel, acrylic painting, pastels, printing sculpting and wool spinning will run throughout the day.

New to the programme for 2018 is the Late-Night Art Tour. Hop on a late-night Art Bus to visit some of the Creative Peninsula open studios for an insight into how the artworks are created. Enjoy nibbles or a glass of wine/craft beer at each location and an opportunity to chat to artists and makers. Taking in a total of five studios, the tour will depart from and return to North Down Museum on August 8.

Browse the full programme below.

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Richard Smart said: 'With over 20,000 attendees each year, Creative Peninsula has become one of the most inspirational, educational and vocational creative festivals attracting people from all corners of Northern Ireland.

'Ards and North Down is very fortunate to have one of the largest concentrations of artists and craftspeople living and working here and unsurprisingly the area has a thriving creative industry. We are delighted to be able to offer this event again which allows artists and craftspeople showcase their knowledge and members of the public to learn.'

Arts and Heritage Manger for Ards and North Down Borough Council, Emily Crawford also commented: 'Earlier this year Ards and North Down launched its new ‘Blue:Green, Creatively Connected’ Strategy for tourism, regeneration and economic development which we will follow to bring prosperity and growth to the Borough. This strategy makes use of the Borough’s three particular strengths, our landscape, the creativity of our people and our proximity to places of opportunity. Our distinctiveness is derived in a large part from these three assets and the synergies between them and our creativity is an important part of this. We are delighted to have such a talented and skilled industry and to be able to play homage to this via this festival.'

Download the Creative Peninsula brochure and book tickets to events by going to visitardsandnorthdown.com/creative-peninsula.

More information and physical copies are available from Ards Arts Centre, Ards Crafts and North Down Museum, at Visitor Information Centres in Ards, Bangor and Portaferry or by contacting the Council directly on 0300 013 3333.