A large-scale Seaside Revival Vintage Festival on Bangor seafront wasn’t possible again this year – so we scheduled a month of at-home, online, and smaller outdoor events instead.
The Seaside Revival summer programme celebrated the history and heritage of Bangor-by-the-Sea with some of our vintage staples, including the Pickie to Pier Swim, a vintage car boot sale, a classic vehicle show, live music, a swing dance lesson, best dressed competitions, the conversation caravan and a Tenx9 Seaside Stories. We also had some new additions, including an outdoor classic film screening, deckchair making workshops, a summer swim challenge, a heritage hunt, and our street art project which saw acclaimed artists paint stunning seaside themed murals on several seafront walls.
Seaside Revival Highlights
Painting the town seaside-style with large scale murals and street art.
A series of stunning murals painted by internationally renowned street artists appeared on various seafront locations across the town. There’s also wall art by local emerging artists at the Vennel by Project 24.
Bregenz House, Bangor Seafront | Guillemot Cafe, Victoria Road | Bank Lane (Back of Donegans) | Holborn Carpark | The Vennel at Project 24 | Mill row, McCullough’s Gift Shop | The Rabbit Rooms
Pickie to Pier Swim
Saturday 10 July
The legendary Pickie to Pier Swim returned this year, in partnership with Ballyholme Yacht Club. The 200 available places were snapped up very quickly and all the swimmers were fantastic.
Once a stalwart event on Bangor’s summer calendar, the Pickie to Pier Swim was resurrected as part of the 2019 Seaside Revival celebrations after a 30-year absence – to spectacular success. Obviously the event could not take place last summer due to the pandemic, which made this year’s race even more special.
Two hundred seasoned swimmers swam the 800m course from Skippingstone beach beside Pickie, to the RNLI slipway at Eisenhower Pier. They made for quite a spectacle in the water with their red Seaside Revival swimming caps and orange tow floats. The winners of the swim were: Jessika Robson, First past the post and Winner of the Ladies title and Gary Robinson, winner of the Men’s title, for the second time (won in 2019). – and all 200 received a medal.
We’d like to thank Alan Whyte and Ballyholme Yacht Club, Kevin Baird at Bangor Marina, all of the volunteers who manned the route on boats, kayaks and paddle boards, our local RNLI, and Spar Ballyholme, Spar Gransha Road and Spar Abbeyhill for their support.
Classic Car Show & Vintage Car Boot Sale
Sunday 25 & Saturday 31 July
Vehicles and vintage go hand in hand, and it just wouldn’t have felt like Seaside Revival without our vintage car boot sale or classic car show.
The vintage car boot attracted almost 30 specialist stall holders – the majority of whom sold all their wares. And the quality of cars, vans and bikes at our classic car show was phenomenal. Over 75 vehicles travelled to Bangor from all over Northern Ireland for the show – our biggest registration yet. Best in show was the 1955 Jaguar XK140 owned by Jim Hutchinson, with the prizes for the other categories going to a 1927 Austin Heavy 12, a 1964 Morris Mini Traveller Cooper S, a 1967 Split Screen VW Bus and a 1972 Honda 500 four.
Seaside Revival At Home
Saturday 3 July
We asked you to celebrate the second year of our Seaside Revival At Home event with friends and family in your streets or gardens, and you certainly didn’t disappoint!
Ballyholme village got a bunting makeover for the day, and gardens and streets across Bangor and beyond came to life with homemade vintage bars, vintage themed tables, jugs of Pimm’s and old fashioned picnic spreads. Hundreds of people dressed in vintage attire from the 1920s to the 1980s, and one garden party host even issued ration books!
Thank you all for making such an effort – you were fabulous! Special thanks to Copeland Distillery, The Captain’s Table and Hillmount Garden Centre for sponsoring the Best Vintage Bar, Best Street Party and Best Dressed Garden prizes.
Big Swing Dance Class & Classic Movie in the Park
Sunday 18 July & Friday 30 July
The sun shone on our Big Swing Dance event in Ward Park this summer. Over 100 excited people, many of whom were complete novices, learned some classic swing dance steps from our very own Sharon Matchett. These moves were skilfully put together into a routine at the end of the one hour class, the spectacle of which was amazing. This was a new addition to our Seaside Revival calendar of events, and we hope to bring it back next year.
Ward Park was also the venue for our classic film screening of Some Like it Hot, which was preceded by a beautifully nostalgic short film of old Bangor from NI Screen’s Digital Film Archive.
Sunday 1 August
Marking the end of Seaside Revival and the start of Open House Festival’s Music in the Park events, this was a very special day, as for many people it was the first time they had heard live music in over 18 months. The excitement in the air was palpable, and the Sabrejets and Swingtime Starlets certainly didn’t disappoint.
Spot prizes were given to those who dressed in vintage attire, with Main Street My Street vouchers presented to the Best Dressed Lady and Gent, and a Guillemot Deli Hamper to the best vintage picnic.
Why Are We Doing It?
In recent decades local people have become increasingly disconnected from the town’s heritage. With very little cultural infrastructure and a failed retail sector, Bangor has suffered a downward social and economic spiral symptomatic of many British and Irish seaside towns.
Older people in Bangor look back with fondness to its heyday, but with a sense of regret for all that has been lost, while many of the younger generation who know little of the town’s past condemn it as a boring place to live. But we believe that Bangor has so much to offer everyone who lives here.
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Through this new vintage festival we want to revive positive memories and use them to create new ones. We hope to reposition Bangor as a modern seaside town, drawing on its unique assets of the seafront, a thriving community of artists and creatives, Victorian architecture, its closeness to Belfast – and most importantly, an appetite among residents for regeneration.
We believe that if local people can connect with their past, they will start talking the town up – a key part of the next chapter.
Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund Great Place Scheme, Seaside Revival aims to re-position Bangor as a modern seaside town – the Brighton of Northern Ireland – with a distinctive cultural offer. Additional support is provided by Ards & North Down Borough Council.
Led by Open House Festival, the Project brings together six organisations representing different businesses and community interests in the town: Bangor Chamber of Commerce, North Down Community Network, North Down Development Corporation, Boom! Studios, and Main Street My Street.
Translink have played a historic role in linking Bangor to the rest of Northern Ireland and we’re proud to have their support for another Seaside Revival.