A vintage festival celebrating Bangor’s heyday as a busy seaside town.

Seaside Revival Vintage Festival At Home

Saturday 4th July 2020

We couldn’t be together – but we loved that you helped celebrate the heyday of Bangor-by-the-Sea in your own homes and gardens on the 4th July 2020.

Thank you to our local businesses and volunteers who got involved by giving us hints, tips and offers to ensure our Festival at Home was a big success. If you missed them, see below for details. To stay up to date with all the latest Seaside Revival news, visit Facebook  &  Instagram 

Seaside Revival – Get The Look

Thanks to everyone who took part in the Seaside Revival at Home event. Here are our top tips and a bit of fashion history if you’d like to do it again!

Fashion Blog – Summer Seaside Style

From the early 1900s, a grand day out at the seaside was the perfect occasion for a bit of summer style and the chance to show off a new outfit or two. Valerie Wilson, Curator of Textiles at Ulster Folk Museum, Cultra (National Museums NI) has written a brilliant blog on dress history to help you get your look just right for this Saturday.

Click “Summer Seaside Style” below to read the full article.

Summer Seaside Style - by Valerie Wilson


A view of Queen’s Parade, Bangor early 1900s.  Photographer W.A.Green. (Image, copyright, from the collections of National Museums NI.  Ref: HOYFM.WAG.399A)

The scene in this picture (above) shows a number of people out and about on the seafront at Bangor in the early 1900s, all dressed in their best clothes.  It’s hard to tell now what time of year this photograph was taken, but given our unpredictable summer weather, it could well have been July or August!  The picture was taken at a time when rail and bus travel networks had expanded greatly across Ulster, bringing a day trip to Bangor within the reach of many people. A grand day out at the seaside was the perfect occasion for a bit of summer style and the chance to show off a new outfit or two.

The straw boater

For men, the straw boater was a summer essential. In the early 1900s it was considered inappropriate for either men or women to appear in public without a head covering. Straw hats were worn by both men and women but the straw boater reigned supreme and was popular for men from the late 1800s until 1930.  

So for the Edwardian gentleman look – smart blazer, crisp white shirt, bow tie, and smart trousers – all topped off with a straw boater! 

Nautical style

The late 1800s and early 1900s saw a strong trend for the wearing of sailor collars and sailor suits, especially for children.  This was strongly influenced by published images of the time showing younger members of the Royal family in naval uniform. 


This little sailor suit from the early 1900s is made of striped cotton and would have been worn by a child of around 4 years of age.  The sailor style straw hat would have completed the outfit.

The fashion remained popular well into the 1930s and is still seen today in some childrens wear.


Detachable sailor collars were mass produced at the time, bringing a little bit of seaside style within the reach of most households. This one from 1910 was amongst clothing for sale in the R.J.Sloane draper’s shop at Kilkeel, now faithfully recreated in the Folk Museum. The photograph, from the late 1920s, shows a group of children in their best outfits.  The elder girl wears a light cotton dress, one of the boys wears a sailor collar and the youngest child appears to be wearing a knitted outfit. Who remembers wearing knitted swimsuits at the beach? (I seem to recall the comedian Billy Connelly’s take on this particular homespun fashion).

Adults also embraced the nautical style, with tailored suits for men. The image (below) is from a range of tailoring offered in the early 1900s by the Belfast firm of Robert McBride and Co. of Ormeau Avenue in Belfast. It was further popularised by newspaper images at the time of the eminent businessman Sir Thomas Lipton, who incidentally was a member of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club.


(Advertisement for Robert McBride and Co., Belfast)


In the 1920s it was the French fashion designer Coco Chanel who championed loose pyjama-style trousers  in jersey fabric for women, and the navy and white striped top, all influenced by what she had observed being worn by Breton sailors.  To this day, the navy and white, fine striped ‘Breton’ tee-shirt or jumper is a staple for summer seaside style.

For this look – navy and white stripes, loose navy trousers and a bit of nautical swagger. Finish the look with flat espadrilles or plimsolls. Much debate on social media recently about names for plimsolls – did you call yours ‘gutties’ or ‘mutton dummies’? And who remembers the joys of ‘jelly’ shoes for the beach that managed to be both deeply unattractive and uncomfortable at the same time?

Did you know that the traditional ‘bell bottom’ trousers worn by sailors were made this way so that they could be rolled up easily when they had to wash down or ‘swab’ the decks whilst at sea? Hopefully on July 4th the only thing you will be washing down is a nice cool drink or a cup of tea.

In the 1950s and 60s the ownership of motorcycles and cars further popularised the notion of the family day out at the seaside, complete with picnic of course.  Ready-made dresses in summer floral styles, including those made by Horrockses, were widely available in local draper’s shops and by mail order. Easter, and the traditional summer fornight’s break from work, saw many a new frock get its first public outing.

For those with dressmaking skills and a sewing machine it didn’t take too long to rustle up a new outfit for the seaside picnic.

Think dirndl skirts and waisted dresses in bright florals and polka dots – team with strappy sandals or kitten heels, a cardigan slung nonchalantly over the shoulder, small straw basket and you’re good to go!  Full make up with bright lippy, and a silk scarf on hand in case it gets breezy (let’s be honest here – none of us has seen a hairdresser in a while!).

And if you really want to go for the full vintage clothing and picnic gig here are a couple of suggestions from Woman’s Illustrated Magazine 1957 – who wouldn’t want a jam umbrella tart and a dessert that looks like the lovechild of a starfish and a tin of fruit salad?  Full marks to anyone who manages to dress in vintage style and produce a vintage-themed picnic on July 4th!


My memory of childhood seaside picnics is that they always had egg and onion sandwiches, strong tea from a tartan flask, and my gran’s homemade fruit cake. What will you have in your picnic spread?  

The 1960s saw much more of fashion aimed exclusively at the teenage or young adult market, catered for by both the mail order catalogues and chain stores such as Etams, C&A and Littlewoods.  Bangor in the 1960s was a meeting place for mods and rockers, all dressed to impress in the latest styles. Mini skirts and dresses the order of the day, denim jeans and leather jackets for the bikers among you. 


So, for this look or similar – it’s bright colours and groovy prints, hoop earrings and beehive or bob hairdo. Think Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton and Lulu. Sling back sandals or patent leather shoes in light colours, tights optional! For all the 60s- style peacocks among the men, dig out your Hawaiian print shirts, teamed with light chino trousers, or paisley patterns with cord flares – go on, you know you want too!

So, whether you decide to channel the  Victorian lady, Edwardian gent or the swinging sixties,


this is your chance to raid your wardrobe or visit your local charity shop (most are open again now) to get your own seaside vintage look together in time for Saturday 4 July. Have a look through your own family photo albums or visit the NMNI website at www.nmni.com for online access to archive images and collections for inspiration.

But remember, if you are all dressed up on the day and having a good time please do share your images on the Open House Festival site. Can’t wait to see the style – go for it!

As for myself, I may be reliving some memories of 1970s seaside outings, with a long, tiered floaty dress, wedge espadrilles and straw hat (thank you Topshop for the retro fashions this year, and online shopping in lockdown!).

Best wishes to everyone for a good day on Saturday 4 July – fingers crossed for good weather.


Valerie Wilson

Curator of Textiles

Ulster Folk Museum


Seaside Revival Best Dressed Competition

Our Best Dressed competition has become an integral part of Seaside Revival over the last three years. This year, even though we couldn’t all be together, we loved that you all put on your best vintage inspired outfits and took part at home. Check out the photos below!

The 2020 winners were:

Best Dressed Lady: Shirley Graham

Best Dressed Gent: Peter Burns

Thanks to Main Street, My Street Bangor for providing a £50 voucher for the winners!

Thanks so much for everyone who got involved with this years Seaside Revival Best Dressed competition. You all look great!



Charleston Tutorial

Our very own Sharon Matchett shows us how to dance the Charleston. 

Vintage Headscarfs

Our fantastic volunteer Ros shows us how to perfect our look for Saturday with a vintage headscarf.

Vintage Bunting

Sewing legend Barbara shows us how to make some beautiful bunting for your house or garden.

Vintage Victory Rolls

Local hairdresser Alywn O’Connor from Pier Hairquarters shows us how to put our hair in a vintage victory roll. Thanks to our model, Ali Dornan.

Food & Drink

Vintage Cocktail

In this brilliant video, Tim from The Copeland Distillery shows us how to make an all-time classic Gin Martini – the perfect accompaniment to any vintage picnic.

Retro Picnic Ideas

Have a go at these retro picnic recipes from local food consultant Kim Close.

If you make them, upload a picture to Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #SeasideRevivalAtHome

Cakes Salés (French Savoury Loaf with a Northern Irish Twist)

Savoury cakes are very popular in France: everyone has their own version and they are served, with drinks, to guests.

They are quick and easy, adaptable and, most important, very delicious.

They’re also a great way of using up small amounts of leftover roast chicken, bacon or odd ends of cheese. You can add finely diced roasted vegetables such as beetroot, courgette or peppers, too – just stick to the proportions of flour, eggs, fat and yoghurt used here.


  • 200ml natural yoghurt
  • 250g soda bread flour
  • 100g grated cheddar (or gruyere)
  • 70g Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 7 Tbsp light olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g bacon lardons or chopped streaky bacon, fried until just cooked
  • 2 Tbsp chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of fresh thyme or dried mixed herbs/piri piri spice
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 10 pitted green olives, finely sliced (I used ones stuffed with pimentos for added flavour and colour)
  • 6-8 pitted black olives, sliced


  1. Place the flour, herbs and salt in a large bowl
  2. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, yoghurt & oil together (it will come together smoothly, but it looks a bit lumpy to start).
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir with a spatula until just combined.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients, keeping the black olives, a small handful of the cheddar & a few green olives for topping.
  5. Scrape the batter into either a 2lb lined loaf tine or 2 x rectangular tray bake trays, lined with parchment (reduce cooking time by 10-15 mins), smooth it off level with the back of a spoon and top with the remaining olives and cheddar cheese.
  6. Bake at 170C for a good 45 minutes – until a skewer comes out clean and leave to cool for half an hour before carefully lifting it out of the tin and allowing to cool completely before slicing – even if you’re tempted to try some!

Coronation Chicken Lettuce Cups


  • 2 skinless chicken breasts
  • 10g flaked almonds
  • 4 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 4 Tbsp Greek style yogurt
  • 2 tsp medium curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp mango chutney  
  • 1 tsp Worcester sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 x little gem lettuce, leaves separated


  1. Wrap chicken breasts in a tinfoil parcel with salt, pepper and a tablespoon of water – this will allow the chicken to steam and be very tender. Bake in oven at 180C for 20 minutes.
  2. Set aside until cool enough to handle, shred into very small bite-size pieces then leave to cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, lightly toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan, and mix together the mayonnaise, yogurt, curry powder, mango chutney, Worcester sauce and some black pepper in a bowl
  4. Add the chicken to the bowl and stir to coat, divide between the little gem leaves, then scatter over the toasted almonds.


Seaside Revival Spotify Playlist 

Festival Director, Kieran Gilmore, has created a 7-hour Spotify playlist – 143 songs to dance you through the decades including loads of Swing Jazz, some Big Band, Northern Soul, Motown, a wee bit of Reggae and a sprinkling of classic Rock ’n Roll.

– If you don’t have a Spotify account it’s quick and easy to make one for free!

Listen back to our conversation caravan

Recorded in a lovingly restored caravan at the 2018 and 2019 Seaside Revival. We invited locals to share their memories of Bangor, and the seaside. Even Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol popped in to share some of his stories of growing up in Bangor!

Boom Studios Exhibition: Listen & Draw

This fantastic online art exhibition, curated by local artists and facilitated by Boom! Studios, has been inspired by our conversation caravan recordings.

Listen to our Bangor FM – Seaside Revival special 

Local musicians Rachel McCarthy & Stephen Macartney joined us for our Bangor FM takeover in 2019. Recording a special 2 hour show celebrating sounds old and new. 

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.

Join in the conversation on our Facebook Page

Our Aims

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.