About Us

Open House is more than just a Festival. We organise a month long music & arts Festival, a Vintage themed free Festival, will soon open our own multi-purpose venue and also organise one off gigs in Belfast & Bangor all year round. Read on to find out more.


Open House

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  Snow Patrol  Sleaford Mods  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  Mumford & Sons

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

Kieran Gilmore

Kieran Gilmore


Alison Gordon

Alison Gordon

Development Director

Sarah Kiely

Sarah Kiely

Events Manager


Seamus Barnett

Seamus Barnett

Graphic & Web Design

Lesley Allen

Lesley Allen

PR & Additional Programming

Sharon Matchett

Sharon Matchett


Janet Hughes

Janet Hughes

Volunteer Co-ordinator



Office Dog & Head of Security

Management Board

Stephen Dunlop (chair), Kathryn Thomson, Stephen Roycroft, David Lennon, Nick Garbutt, Joanne Timoney, 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

Contact Us


Our small team depends on volunteers to help us deliver Open House Festival events, by assisting with ticketing, seating, event set-up, litter picking, and many other vital duties. They help to create a happy, welcoming environment and carry out their responsibilities with pride and huge smiles on their faces.

Applications are currently closed for volunteering at this year’s festival, but if you would like to join the waiting list contact janet@openhousefestival.com

Proudly Funded By