On Saturday, 6 July, Bangor County Down will be reliving its heyday as a prominent coastal resort with Seaside Revival – a celebration of all things vintage, local and seaside-inspired.
Around 18,000 people are expected to attend this FREE event – the second vintage festival in a three-year project led by Open House Festival and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Great Place Scheme, that aims to re-establish Bangor as a thriving seaside town.
Seaside Revival will take place over a mile-long stretch of the coast, from the McKee Clock Arena beside Bangor Marina to Skippingstone Beach, just past Pickie Fun Park – with a host of vintage inspired spectacles and activities along the route. Attendees can look forward to a 60+ stall vintage flea market, vinyl DJs, classic cars, vintage fashion shows, dog shows, donkey carriage rides, Punch & Judy, plus quality hot food stalls and a full bar. Live music includes Vintage Revue, The Swingtime Starlets and The Sabrejets, Ireland’s best Rockabilly band. There’ll be dancing from the era of swing, jazz and big band, celebrating Bangor’s famous dancehall days at Caproni’s, Milano’s and The Savoy, plus a Disco Revival for the kids of the 70s and 80s.
Visitors can take a stroll down Memory Lane which features a pop-up vintage tattoo parlour and hair salon. And in the Conversation Caravan, supported by Bangor Historical Society, they can share their memories of Bangor by the sea. There’ll be a Best Dressed Window Competition for businesses throughout the town, as well as prizes for Best Dressed Lady and Man on the day, courtesy of Main Street My Street. Collaborations with Seacourt Print Workshop, Boom! Studios and the Ulster Folk Museum will offer workshops on letterhead press printing, sewing, traditional crafting techniques and much more. And Etsy will host a local makers’ market based at Project 24 alongside the colourful artist pods, which will also be open all day.
One of the event highlights will be a special resurrection of the legendary ‘Pickie to Pier Swim’ – a summer staple on Bangor’s calendar from 1910 to the late 1980s. Around 200 swimmers will brave the 650 metre route, competing for the winner’s title for first time in 30 years.
In addition, several fringe events will take place throughout the week, including Bangor’s Ghost on Thursday 4th. Curated by Bangor artist and musician Rachel McCarthy, it will feature songs, poetry and stories of shipwrecks and mermaids, plus memories from the heyday of Pickie Pool and Bangor’s famous Dance Halls. A special Tenx9 on Friday 5th will feature local people sharing personal seaside-inspired stories of their hometown. Revival Picnic in Ward Park on Sunday 7th will feature the splendid Victory Rollers, with prizes for best dressed and best vintage picnic.
“The Bangor I grew up in was a great place – a thriving seaside town with a strong local community and a successful tourism economy,” says Open House Festival Manager, Alison Gordon. “Over recent decades Bangor has suffered a similar fate to many seaside towns in Britain and Ireland. The town has struggled to compete with the attractions of foreign holidays, out-of-town shopping centres and the cultural renaissance of Belfast. For the last six years, Open House Festival has been working to re-connect people to the seafront and town centre through arts and cultural events. Seaside Revival is about bringing together local partners and communities to celebrate our cultural heritage – the things that made Bangor a great place – to help shape its future as a modern seaside resort.”
Paul Mullan, Director of NI, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, added “We were delighted to support this project through our Great Place programme. The programme supported four pilot projects that are exploring how heritage and culture can be put at the heart of the local vision and development of places. Bangor was once a thriving seaside town and this project is bringing back the best of that through a range of creative and fun events which will inspire people to think about how their seaside heritage can inform the future of Bangor. We hope everyone has fun reliving a bit of Bangor’s past.”