Open House is an independent music & arts charity that runs an annual summer festival for the month of August in the beautiful seaside town of Bangor, County Down, 15 miles along the coast from Belfast. Open House also promotes music concerts throughout the year in both Belfast and Bangor, plus a vintage festival (Seaside Revival) and a major outdoor artisan food & drink event (Sundown Market). In addition, Open House is in the process of taking over the old Bangor Court House, a Victorian listed building on Bangor seafront, and turning it into a permanent venue. With support from Heritage Lottery Fund and a recent crowdfunding campaign we expect the full restoration to be completed by Spring 2021. 

We are all about regeneration. And 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. 47,689 people attended Festival events during August 2018 generating a total economic impact for that month alone of £2.1million.

As part of the summer Festival, we involve more than 100 volunteers, work with 150+ local businesses and use 40+ different venues and locations, ranging in capacity from 30 to 2,500.

Music acts we have recently worked with include Public Image Ltd, John Grant, Father John Misty, Mercury Rev, Midlake, The Staves, The Waterboys, Foy Vance, 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 and King Creosote.

Recent spoken word events have featured Ian Rankin, John Lydon, Alan Johnson, Martin Bell, Wayne Hemingway, John Boyne, Lucy Caldwell, Colin Bateman, Noddy Holder, Mike Scott, Helen Pankhurst, Glen Matlock, Alexei Sayle and Bernard McLaverty.

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, theatre in a beautiful old walled garden, site specific cinema screenings, pop-up restaurants, whiskey, wine and gin tastings, art exhibitions, and local interest talks and tours.

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.

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

Festival team

Kieran Gilmore, Alison Gordon, 

Lesley Richardson, Sarah Kiely

Management board

Stephen Dunlop (chair), Kathryn Thomson,

Stephen Roycroft, David Lennon,

Nick Garbutt, Lynne Vance, Joanne Brundle


Where to find us

The Fountain Centre, 

2 Queen's Parade, 

Bangor, Co. Down BT20 3BJ

Office Opening Hours

Mon – Fri     10am – 6pm


(028) 9147 1780


The festival is supported by: 

The festival is a member of: