Open House Bangor Returns

Newly launched festival programme celebrates the seaside town as a creative destination with a month of handpicked events in imaginative places

Open House Festival Bangor has launched its much anticipated 2016 programme, with 125 events across over 40 venues making the seaside town the go-to destination for the month of August.

This year’s programme of handpicked special events encompasses music, film, food and drink, theatre, literature, comedy and art, while also introducing magic, mystery, dance and lectures to the fold. The festival’s trademark diverse list of venues and locations includes pubs and parks, clubs and cafés, boats and a ballroom, a theatre, courthouse, and a church, as well as an auction room and even an island.

'Commemorating anniversaries, celebrating local talent and forging new creative partnerships are some of the themes of this year’s festival,' says Festival Director, Kieran Gilmore. 'And as this is the Tourism NI Year of Food and Drink, showcasing fabulous local produce in many of the town’s great restaurants will be focal.'

Highlights include a 40th anniversary concert by The Damned, a 70th birthday tribute to former AC/DC front man Bon Scott, and a nod to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with an open air performance of A Midsummers Night’s Dream. Singer Niamh Perry returns to Bangor for a homecoming concert – her first local appearance since her success in the BBC’s hit show, I’d Do Anything.

Other local acts include celebrity mentalist David Meade, jazz singer Dana Masters and indie-folk band PORTS. They’ll share the limelight with American bands Iron & Wine and Spirit Family Reunion, and familiar faces like Suggs, Tom Robinson, Alexi Sayle and Ian Rankin.

Open House Bateman

Bangor author Colin Bateman talks to Ness Haynes from Open House at the festival’s 2016 launch

There are picnics in parks, gardens and islands, gourmet food tours, whiskey tastings and seafood with sea shanties. There are mad-cap lectures, magic tricks, and even a spot of ghost hunting, plus pub theatre, book clubs and dance classes.

As well as the regular Walled Garden film screenings, there’ll be films with wine tasting, disco dancing and even with a clothes swap. And the Open House Festival Choir, a stand out success at last year’s festival, returns for its fourth consecutive season, with several performances throughout the month.

'This year’s programme is really eclectic and we’re hugely proud of it,' says Gilmore, 'especially as almost half of the events are free. Many partners from across the local arts and business communities have helped to develop it, embracing the idea of Bangor as a creative town.

'But Open House Festival isn’t just for locals – it’s for folk throughout the country and beyond who love live music, enjoy eating out, are game for a laugh, want to be surprised, and crave the feel-good satisfaction that handpicked arts and culture can deliver.'

Open House Festival Bangor 2016 is supported by Ards and North Down Borough Council, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Tourism NI and NI Year of Food and Drink. The County Down Spectator is the official media partner for the festival. For more information and event booking