Bangor will be a hub of creative energy this August when Open House returns with its sixth annual month-long festival and a vibrant programme of 142 events over the 31 days.
Alongside the headline acts already announced, including Public Image Ltd (PiL), The Waterboys and John Grant (all of whom will perform open air concerts on Bangor Seafront) visiting artists, performers and authors include former Thin Lizzy guitarist, Eric Bell, DR Helen Pankhurst, women’s rights activist and great-granddaughter of leading suffragist, Emmeline Pankhurst, and the man in the famous white suit, Martin Bell, OBE.
The focus of this year’s festival is on re-establishing Bangor as a thriving seaside town: celebrating its rich cultural heritage and embracing the current vibrant creative scene. Local participants include singer-songwriter Hannah Peel who performed at the BBC Big Weekender concert. Originally from Northern Ireland, Hannah has recently relocated to Bangor, drawn to the town because of its burgeoning music scene. She is supporting the mighty John Grant, performing on Bangor Seafront, just a stone throw away from her new home. Other local artists include Mandy Bingham, daughter of the late David McWilliams, King Cedar, aka Stephen Macartney, bestselling author Patrick Gregg and young mentalist, Joel Mawhinney.
“We’re hugely excited about the 2018 festival for many reasons,” said Festival Director, Kieran Gilmore. “For a start, this is the first time we’ve been able to programme large open-air concerts on Bangor seafront. Thousands of people from all over the world will be flocking to Bangor over the course of the month to see musical heavyweights like John Lydon, John Grant and The Waterboys perform against the beautiful backdrop of Bangor Bay. We’ll also be paying tribute to Bangor’s rich music and cultural history – while showcasing the wealth of talent and energy it boasts today. When John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, made the comment that ‘Bangor is an Energy’ playing on the band’s iconic lyrics ‘Anger is an Energy’, he hit the proverbial nail on the head.”
More than one third of the 142 events are free, and 39 venues and locations will be used throughout the month. A key feature this year is the Seaside Revival weekend, two days of mostly free events and activities celebrating Bangor’s heyday as a leading seaside resort. This marks the start of a three-year project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Great Place Scheme that will be developed with a team of local business and community partners.
In what has been a challenging and busy year for the festival due to funding constraints and the acquisition of Bangor Court House (*see notes) it remains grateful to the three key funders, Ards & North Down Borough Council, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Tourism NI.
Stephen Reid, Chief Executive, Ards and North Down Borough Council, said: “Open House Festival brings Bangor alive in August with a fantastic array of cultural events and activities for all ages and interests. As it continues to grow and bring an exciting mix of international artists, home-grown talent and household names, our businesses, visitor attractions and accommodation providers across the Borough all reap the benefits. For all of those involved this year – performers, suppliers, host venues, staff and Festival friends – we wish you a fantastic sixth Festival!
Maria McAlister, Arts Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “With its eclectic range of music, visual arts, literature and family-friendly events, Open House Festival, now in its 6th year, has firmly established itself as an annual summer highlight in Bangor attracting high-quality, world-class international acts. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support this terrific festival which demonstrates the power of the arts in bringing people and communities closer together as well as being a tool for economic regeneration.”
Terence Brannigan, Tourism NI Chairman commented: “Tourism NI is proud to support the 6th annual Open House Festival which attracts thousands of visitors, both locally and internationally to Bangor every August. This home-grown festival which works with more than 100 local businesses, showcases a huge range of local and international talent, with a packed programme of events from visual art to food and drink and comedy to local history. Events such as the Open House Festival are so important in raising the profile of our tourism offering in Northern Ireland and generating significant economic impact and I wish the organisers, sponsors and attendees another successful year.”
For full details of the 2018 programme, go to: www.openhousebangor.com