Open House Festival was established in Belfast in 1999 and moved to Bangor in 2013. It has been organically grown and tenderly looked after by two local people, Kieran Gilmore and Alison Gordon, who are still at the helm.
Our Vision: Placing creativity at the heart of our town’s identity and economy
Our Mission: To create events and experiences that empower people and transform places
Who Are We?
Open House is an independent non-profit charitable organisation that runs:
1. Open House Festival – an annual summer festival for the month of August in the beautiful seaside town of Bangor, County Down. At the heart of the August Festival is an eclectic programme of lovingly curated bespoke events, including folk on a boat, an island picnic trip, pop-up restaurants, local interest talks and tours alongside a run of shows in the beautiful Bangor Castle Walled Garden which include music, theatre, comedy, spoken word and film.
2. Bangor Court House – which will soon open its doors, is a Victorian listed building on Bangor seafront, that we are turning into a permanent venue. Open House acquired the building from the Courts Service via the process of Community Asset Transfer, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland. With support from Heritage Lottery Fund, DfC, Garfield Weston, Arts Council NI, A&NDBC, Swire Foundation, Architectural Heritage Fund, Ulster Garden Villages and a successful crowdfunding campaign we expect the full restoration to be completed by Autumn 2022.
3. Seaside Revival – a free vintage festival, celebrating Bangor’s heyday as a thriving seaside town.
4. Year round concerts & events – in both Belfast and Bangor – any additional income is re-invested in free events, running costs and projects that create greater social impact.
Our Role In Bangor
Our mission is to create events and experiences that empower people and transform places. We believe that music, art, culture and festival events are the regenerative force that will transform Bangor from its seafront dereliction and failed retail sector into a modern seaside town.
Drawing on the unique assets of its coastal setting, thriving community of artists and creatives, Victorian architecture, abundance of pop-up venues and proximity to Belfast, we aim to attract more visitors to Bangor and to make local people proud of their town again. 68,858 people attended our Festival events in 2019 generating a total economic impact of £2.3million.
Previous Music Guests
The Specials Public Image Ltd John Grant Father John Misty Mercury Rev Midlake Villagers The Staves The Waterboys Foy Vance Hannah Peel Steve Earle The Damned Bonnie “Prince” Billy Lisa Hannigan Sun Kil Moon Joan Armatrading Lloyd Cole Iron & Wine Lord Huron Martha Wainwright Happy Mondays The Low Anthem King Creosote
Previous Spoken Word Guests
Sir Michael Parkinson Ian Rankin John Lydon Alan Johnson Kerry Danes Martin Bell Wayne Hemingway John Boyne Lucy Caldwell Noddy Holder Mike Scott Helen Pankhurst Glen Matlock Alexei Sayle
Bernard McLaverty Colin Bateman
Team Open House
Graphic & Web Design
PR & Additional Programming
Office Dog & Head of Security
Stephen Dunlop (chair), Kathryn Thomson, Stephen Roycroft, David Lennon, Nick Garbutt, Joanne Brundle, Sarah Jones and Jonathan Moore
Open House Festival Ltd is a voluntary organisation, a registered not-for-profit charity with the Charity Commission NI and a company limited by guarantee.
Charity No: NIC103648 Company Reg No: NI42872
We are always looking for enthusiastic, motivated and reliable volunteers to help us deliver the August Festival, and make it another resounding success for our town. The festival creates a vibrant, celebratory atmosphere in Bangor during August, with a range of free and ticketed events, including concerts, theatre, film, food & drink, books, comedy, artisan markets, talks and tours. Our small team depends on volunteers to help at many of these events, keeping our visitors happy and safe and ensuring they enjoy their festival experience to the full.
Applications will open later this Summer.