Open House Festival Bangor returns this week with a programme of outdoor events including music, comedy, spoken word, classic cinema and walking tours, the majority of which will be held in the beautiful surroundings of Bangor Castle Walled Garden.
This year’s festival will look very different to the trademark 140+ events in 40-odd venues one that audiences have come to associate with Bangor in August, but it has already more than doubled in size since the initial line-up was launched back in May, with 47 events now in the programme.
“We cautiously launched with 19 events in the Walled Garden from 12th to 30th August,” explains Open House Director, Kieran Gilmore. “Since then a lot of things have changed, and it’s clear that the public confidence for well organised outdoor events has grown. Consequently, we’ve been able to add a further five events to the Walled Garden, including Lisa Hannigan and Ryan McMullan concerts, as well as some walking and boat tours, and a series of free gigs in Ward Park.”
All events in the Walled Garden will be open-air, fully seated in appropriately distanced bubbles, and Covid-compliant, and there’ll be no need to worry about the weather as audiences will be protected under a stretch canvas cover. Events outside the Walled Garden will also follow current government guidelines.
“These past 18 months have been challenging for us all, particularly so for the arts sector, and organising this festival has presented many new challenges,” says Kieran. “However, we’ve been blown away by the support from the public. The appetite for outdoor live events is definitely there, and people trust us to deliver them safely, and with our trademark Open House attention to detail. We’re enormously grateful for their support, and for that of our funders too. We’re just delighted to be back doing what we do.”
The Chief Executive of Ards and North Down Borough Council, Stephen Reid, said: “I am delighted that organisers have managed to secure a superb line-up of live events for this year’s Open House Festival. The Festival always attracts an exciting mix of artists to the Borough and our beautiful Bangor Castle Walled Garden will provide a perfect open-air location where everyone can remain socially distanced under a protective weatherproof covering. The Festival is one of the highlights of our local arts calendar and it will give everyone something to look forward to this August.”
Meanwhile, Sonya Whitefield, Arts Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to see Open House launch their August festival. Despite the huge challenges presented in programming a festival due to the ongoing pandemic, the team at Open House has curated an impressive programme that truly celebrates Northern Irish talent. As the arts sector slowly and safely reopens, it’s heartening to see live events return for audiences to enjoy. Congratulations to all.”
And Tourism NI Events Development Manager Siobhan McGuigan said: “We are very proud to support this fantastic festival and it is heartening to see the growing public desire to attend outdoor events like this as restrictions continue to ease. The organisers have done a wonderful job responding to the challenges that an event of this nature presents, allowing them to showcase both the beauty of this destination and of the local talent in a safe and welcoming environment.”
Open House Festival runs from 12th – 30th August. Tickets for some events are still available, including Adam Kay, Lisa Hannigan, Ryan McMullan, Nuala McKeever and Bangor Walking Tours. For full details and bookings go to www.openhousefestival.com
Open House festival is a registered charity dedicated to regenerating Bangor through arts and culture. The August Festival is funded by Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Tourism NI and Ards and North Down Borough Council, with additional support from George Best Belfast City Airport and Translink.