About Us

Open House Festival

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 Mission: Transforming people and places through festivals and events

Our Vision:  Our vision is to contribute to the regeneration of the local economy, create positive social impact, increase civic pride and develop cultural tourism

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. 2019 featured 163 events in 46 venues, over 31 consecutives days.

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.

2. Seaside Revival which is a free vintage festival, celebrating Bangor’s heyday as a thriving seaside town. 30,000+ people attended in 2019

3. 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

4. The Open House Festival Choir, a 60 strong community choir, with 16 seasons under its belt. They perform songs by local acts and artists that have played the Festival

Open House now owns the old Bangor Court House, a Victorian listed building on Bangor seafront, and is turning it 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, A&NDBC, Ulster Garden Villages and a successful crowdfunding campaign we expect the full restoration to be completed by Summer 2022.

Our role in Bangor

Our mission is to transform people and places through festivals and events. 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 last Festival events in 2019 generating a total economic impact of £2.3million.

Previous guests

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

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

Festival Team

Kieran Gilmore, Alison Gordon
Lesley Allen, Sarah Kiely, Seamus Barnett

Management Board

Stephen Dunlop (chair), Kathryn Thomson, Stephen Roycroft, David Lennon, Nick Garbutt, Joanne Brundle, Sarah Jones, Jonathan Moore and Patrick Ingham

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


Box Office & Accessibility: boxoffice@openhousefestival.com

Comments, compliments or complaints: info@openhousefestival.com

Volunteering: janet@openhousefestival.com

Media relations and press: lesley@openhousefestival.com

Seaside Revival: caroline@openhousefestival.com

Sponsorship, Promotional opportunities, Marketing queries: info@openhousefestival.com


If you’re interested in volunteering at this years August Festival or Seaside Revival then please click the button below to learn more.

We are looking for enthusiastic, motivated and reliable volunteers to help us deliver the 2021 Open House Festival, and make it another resounding success for our town. The festival creates a vibrant, celebratory atmosphere in Bangor during August, with a range of free and ticketed events, including concerts, theatre, film, food & drink, books, comedy, artisan markets, talks and tours. Our small team depends on volunteers to help at many of these events, keeping our visitors happy and safe and ensuring they enjoy their festival experience to the full.

Funders & Partners