Open House Festival Bangor has launched its much anticipated 2016 programme, and with 125 events taking place in more than 40 venues, the seaside town will be the go-to destination for the month of August.
This year’s programme of handpicked special events includes music, film, food & drink, theatre, literature, comedy and art, and introduces magic, mystery, dance and lectures to the lineup. The Festival’s trademark diverse list of venues and locations includes pubs and parks, clubs and cafes, boats and a ballroom, as well as a theatre, a courthouse, a church, an island and an auction room.
“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 ACDC 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 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. 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, with 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 Kieran, “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.”
Maria McAlister, Arts Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: “It’s great to see Open House back again with another terrific programme of exciting events for the 2016 festival. From music to comedy, food, film and theatre, there’s something for everyone, including many free events, offering more and more ways for local audiences to experience high quality arts events right on their doorstep.”
Eddie Rowan, Events Manager for Tourism NI said: “Tourism NI is pleased to once again support Open House Festival Bangor. With such a variety of entertainment on offer, and celebrating Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink, visitors to Bangor will be greeted with a fantastic atmosphere within the town.”
Mayor of Ards and North Down, Alderman Alan Graham, commented that: “Ards and North Down Borough Council is delighted to be supporting the festival for the fourth year running. As the festival grows it continues to bring an eclectic mix of both local and international artists. It is a true success story and, through its inclusive programme of culture and arts, plays a key role in helping to invigorate Bangor by increasing cultural tourism and by engaging and celebrating local businesses.”
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, go to www.openhousefestival.com.