Ards International Guitar Festival

Newtownards comes alive with five days of eclectic performances, clinics and tours to suit every guitar lover's tastes

Festival Details


Wednesday, 05 April 2017 to Sunday, 09 April 2017


Various Prices (Weekend Pass £50)

With the world’s guitarists at your fingertips, Ards International Guitar Festival returns in April 2017 with an eclectic mix to suit every taste. Celebrating all that is brilliant locally with a clever mix of international artists.

From the April 5 - 9 Newtownards will be alive with the sound of classical, blues, folk, jazz, bluegrass and a smattering of rock to keep audiences on their toes. Every genre is covered. Whether you play the guitar yourself or just love music there will be something for you.

This festival is real opportunity to hear world renowned musicians such as Jon Gomm. The UK based guitarist combines jaw-dropping guitar playing skills and artistic soul to craft instrumental compositions that reflect ambient and progressive music that transcends global cultures. Jon will be supported by Becky Langan, a remarkable percussive fingerstyle guitarist. 

Other highlights this year include Irish classical guitarist John Feeley, jazz guitarist Hugh Buckley in conversation and in session with Ronnie Greer, excellent young guitarists Will McNichol and Joseph Leighton and a trio of Sunday Songbirds Sarah McQuaid, Brigid O’Neill and Eilidh Patterson.

International acts this year include Grammy Award winner and Solid Air Records artist Amrit Sond whose unique contemporary instrumental music draws on elements of his African and Asian roots, jazz, classical, folk, rock and new acoustic techniques.

A uniquely talented guitarist and singer, Narciso Saul interprets tangos, milongas and Argentine folk music as well as creating his own compositions and will perform a free drop in gig at Ards Arts Centre.

Sure to be one of the highlights of this year’s festival, the Rumours Re-Told event sees a cast of major local talents unite for a unique one-off event to bring the classic Fleetwood Mac album to life in honour of the 40th anniversary. The album will be performed in its entirety and the event will also feature some unique interpretations and arrangements.

Performers include, Anthony Toner, Stevie Moore, Gary Lutton, Billy Cook, Gavin Ferris, Ken Haddock, Matt McGinn, Suzy Coyle, Ellen Weir, Cormac Neeson, Emer Maguire, The Lazy Flies, Matthew Malcolm, Paul Mahon, Paddy Anderson, Una Clarke and Wookalilly.

Tours of the Avalon guitar factory will provide visitors with an insight into the production line of the handcrafted guitar. The guitar clinics will allow guitar aficionados to learn the techniques from the masters in an intimate environment.

There are a number of free events taking place at Ards Arts Centre including a rare opportunity to see George Lowden sit down with BBC Radio Ulster’s Ralph McLean to talk about his inspiration, his passions – and the guitars that have taken his name to concert stages across the world. In addition, music photographer Carrie Davenport will be exhibiting a collecion of shots taken over the course of her career, covering some of the world's biggest events for Kerrang! and Getty Images to name a few.

Ards International Guitar Festival is a must for the music enthusiast. For ticket details or to view the full programme please visit the website or alternatively call Ards Arts Centre on 028 9181 0803.