Hand-picked Highlights for Open House Festival Bangor 2017

The arts-inspired festival returns this August with an eclectic international lineup of events to suit all ages and interests

August is fast becoming the most creative and inspiring month for the seaside town of Bangor, thanks to Open House Festival. Over one hundred events will take place in various venues from August 1-31 in a bid to celebrate and create a thriving creative community.

The venture is one of diversity. Lovers of music, poetry, comedy, food & drink, film and theatre will not be disappointed. From the tasting of Japanese whiskey to the sounds of rising US country star Courtney Marie Andrews, there really is something for everyone.

Open House is a wonderfully refreshing concept; one that seeks to revive and sustain the artistic promise that Bangor holds deep within its salty aired soul. With so much going on it can be difficult choosing which event to indulge in, so let this handy break-down be your guide. Here are the acts not to be missed at this Bangor’s Open House Festival.

(Please note that sold out events have not been included in this feature)

Music OHB


Nadia Reid (August 12 / Studio 1A Theatre / £10)

Rich, warm and comforting are just a few words that can be used to describe the beautiful voice of New Zealand singer/songwriter Nadia Reid. Intellectually crafted and emotionally moving song writing seems to sort through the rubble of unlucky love until you finally find yourself in the comfort of home again. Moody folk tones and soft indie aesthetic will delight and ignite.

Twitch & Crilli present: Phil Kieran (August 19 / Secret Location / £12)

Two of Belfast’s most beloved concepts join forces to create a one-of-a-kind concept in a top secret location. Drum & Bass night Crilli and electronic music institution Twitch present Phil Kieran, performing alongside local favourites Chris Hanna and Underground Records Paul Murray.

Phil Kieran has been amazing audiences with his distinctive take on techno for around two decades now, whilst Hanna has been pushing a diverse sonic identity that ranges from post-dubstep to straight up house and has even clocked a release on Ejeca’s esteemed Exploris label.

Full details of the secret location will be sent out via email on the day of the event.

Laura Gibson (August 22 / Studio 1A Theatre / £10)

Now based in the U.S city of Portland, Oregon, Laura Gibson maintains a vocal range drenched in intimacy and fragility. Downbeat elements matched with thought provoking lyricism will transport you to a world of nostalgia and emotion.

Gibson has toured across four continents and has released an equal amount of records, receiving critical acclaim from respected publications such as Pitchfork who describe her work as ‘a cathartic tale of loss and redemption.’

DJ Andy Smith (Portishead) (August 26 / Hophouse / Free Admission)

Having dictated sets at legendary Soho nightclub Madame Jo’s and produced for the likes of Portishead and Prodigy, you could say that Andy Smith knows a thing or two about music, so who better to dictate an all vinyl set after a 22 year Bangor hiatus?

With influences ranging from R&B, Northern Soul, hip hop and jazz, Smith’s performance looks set to be a unique and sonically intellectual look into the records and sounds close to his heart.

Courtney Marie Andrews (August 30 / Space Theatre / £15.50)

The 25 year old Arizona bred singer-songwriter boasts an incredible six solo albums, with Honest Life exhausting five star reviews. Beginning as a backing vocalist for Jimmy Eat World, the artist has come on leaps and bounds, developing into one the finest contemporary country singers in the world.

Her lyrics seem to have been carved from the ice of vulnerability, standing naked ready to be shot at. A truly monstrous talent.

Books OHB

Books & Words

John Boyne (August 2 / Studio 1A Theatre / £11) 

Best known for one of the most emotionally moving novels of the 21st Century, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne boasts a staggering 15 novels and a collection of short stories to his name.

His most recent novel, The Heart’s Invisible Fury, has already received vast critical acclaim since its release earlier in the year, adding yet another plaudit to his already prestigious reputation.

Presenter of BBC NI’s The Arts Show, Marie-Louise Muir, will host the conversation as we peer deeply into the writing life of John Boyne.

The Shaken & The Stirred (August 26 / Studio 1A Theatre / £10)

A group of Canada’s leading poets have come together to spearhead the expedition on bringing poetry to new and previously closed off ears. Combining poetic readings with live jazz and whiskey tasting is an interesting approach, and one I’m sure will go down well with Irish whiskey lovers.

Performances will be met with local traditional music and a tasting of two Irish whiskey’s which includes Co. Down’s Echlinville. Enjoy the heart-warmth of local whiskey as Ian Burgham, Catherine Graham and Jeanette Lynes inspire a new generation of wordsmiths.

Food and drink OHB

Food & Drink

Beer Club: IPA Tasting (August 16 / Rabbit Rooms / £10)

The IPA is much more than just a hipster trend, they now represent some of the most exciting and interesting beers in the world. At The Rabbit Rooms you will learn how the art of the IPA solved the beer providing problems of the Eastern British Empire, in addition to being able to sample some of the finest brews around.

(Over 18’s only.)

Whiskey Galore: Japanese Whiskey (August 21 / Fealty's Black Bar / £25)

Kakubin, the fifth largest selling whiskey in the world, maintain a truly unique method to distil their beloved liquid, fusing elements of water, climate and population. They now invite you to discover their wonderful technique.

Whiskey production began in Japan around 1870, but mainstream production did not occur until around the 1920’s. Wild innovation and a deep exploration of flavour make Japan one of the finest whiskey producing countries in the world.


Theatre & Comedy

Underneath (August 23 / Space Theatre / £16)

The misfits. The outsiders. The ridiculed. These are the types of people that Fishamble Theatre Company’s Underneath seeks to explore. The blackly comic tale is performed by Pat Kinevane and follows a gothic narrative.

Irish storytelling has long been regarded as one of the finest and most traditional arts around, and here Kinevane and co implement their own darkly twisted interpretation that crawls out from the deep and dank corners of imagination to tell a tale of dis-figuration, murder and rejection.



Pretty Woman (August 12 / Walled Garden / £12)

There are two types of people in this world. People that love Pretty Woman, and people that do not admit to loving Pretty Woman.

Celebrated as one of the finest romance stories of our time, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts play out a very modern version of a fairytale romance.

Taking place in the stunning setting of the Walled Garden, and with the option to bring your own food and drink, this unique screening is set to be one of the most heartwarming evenings of the month.


Talks & Tours

Creating a Creative Town (August 1 / The Court House / Free Admission)

The description for this talk on the Open House site uses Brighton and Margate as examples of seaside towns that have ‘harnessed creativity as a catalyst for regeneration.’

The talk perfectly matches the very ethos of the project. Why can’t Bangor harness its creative community to create a thriving and vibrant town?

The panel will be made up of Wayne Hemingway (MBE), Stephen Reid (Chief Executive Ards & North Down Council), Gareth Irvine (Founder of Copeland Gin), Ian Sansom (Author, critic, radio presenter) and Kathryn Thomson (Chief Executive of Museums NI) and together they will discuss the reasons why Bangor can evolve into a mecca for creativity.

The invite free thinkers, creatives and those who truly care about the future of the town to attend in a bid to bounce ideas of one another and inspire change.

Arts 1 OHB


Makers Market (August 13 / Donegans, Hophouse and Jenny Watt’s / Free Admission)

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon that lazily walking between three of Bangor’s most cherished beer gardens, soaking up the laid back atmosphere, browsing artisan products and learning how they are uniquely crafted.

You can pick up a pint and a slice for just £5 and potentially take home an affordable, one of a kind piece to display proudly in your home. Support your local creative community.

For the full programme of events go to www.openhousebangor.com.