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

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, now in its 13th season. They perform songs by local acts and artists that have played the Festival.

Open House is also 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 Autumn 2021.

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 Festival events on 6th July and the whole of August 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.

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.

Festival Team

Kieran Gilmore, Alison Gordon,

Lesley Allen, Sarah Kiely

Management Board

Stephen Dunlop (chair), Kathryn Thomson,

Stephen Roycroft, David Lennon,

Nick Garbutt, Lynne Vance, Joanne Brundle

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

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I buy a ticket?

Tickets can be purchased online through our website, over the telephone, or at our box office.

www.openhousefestival.com

Tel: 028 9147 1780 

The Fountain Centre, 2 Queens Parade, Bangor BT20 3BJ.

Please note that tickets cannot be purchased from the venue or restaurant.

Do I need to print my ticket?

Once you complete your booking, your ticket will be emailed to you. You can print it at home and bring it with you to the event, or show your ticket on a mobile device.

*Please consider the environment and print only when needed.

Are there age restrictions for the event?

Some of our events are open to all ages, others will have age restrictions. Age restrictions for each event will be clearly listed in our programme and on our website at the point of sale.

Please note that while some events are open to all ages, it is inadvisable to bring very young children and babies to concerts.

The show I want to attend is sold out, can I be put on a waiting list?

We have waiting lists for all paid shows, if a show has sold out get in touch with us to be added to the waiting list in case of cancellations.

I can't attend a show, can I get a refund?

Unfortunately we can only offer refunds or exchange tickets in the case of a cancelled event or in exceptional circumstances.

Can I bring food/drink/drugs to the event?

You cannot bring your own food or drink to our events unless explicitly stated.

We have a zero tolerance drugs policy, anyone found with or suspected to be on drugs will not be allowed entry to the venue.

Rain is forecast for the outside event, will it be cancelled?

It is unusual for us to cancel events due to weather, this would only be in extreme scenarios when it becomes unsafe. We provide our guests with ponchos for outside events when bad weather is expected.

Is the venue wheelchair accessible?

Most of our venues are wheelchair accessible – but not all. Please let us know in advance if you are a wheelchair user, or if a disability means you require seating at a standing event and always check the accessibility details at the point of sale before booking.

Do you offer a buddy scheme for disability carers?

We operate a Buddy Scheme for disabled customers – your carer can get a complementary ticket to help you access our events. Please get in touch to let us know in advance.

Is the show appropriate for children?

Lots of our shows are child friendly, however some are unsuitable for young children. Please be conscious of the venue and other attendees when booking tickets for children. Some of our events also have age restrictions that will be clearly listed in the programme and at the point of sale.

If you’re unsure get in touch with us.

Is there seating at the event?

Some events are fully seated, some are partially seated, and some are standing – however seating is always unreserved. Please check individual events for details. If you have a disability which means you cannot stand at a standing event, please get in touch and we will do our very best to accommodate you.

How can I take part in the festival?

You can find details about volunteering with us here – Volunteer Info

We don’t accept submissions from artists to perform at the festival.

I've lost something at an event, help!

If you’ve left something at a venue, contact the venue and our office and we’ll do our best to locate it!

Do you have any free events?

Yes, the festival is proud to have a large variety of free events, last year a third of events were free!

The event starts at 8pm, what time can I enter the venue from?

We normally allow guests entry to the venue 15 or 30 minutes prior to the start time. We email guests for ticketed events with these details prior to the event.

If you have any further questions you can email Sarah our box office manager sarah@openhousefestival.com or phone our office on 028 9147 1780 from 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday. In case of urgent enquiries feel free to call Alison, the Festival Manager, on 07713 086232.

Contact Us

Other Contacts

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

Volunteer

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 2019 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.