THE ambitious and inspirational transformation of Bangor Court House into an arts and cultural hub has won a major UK-wide award. 

The Court House has been crowned the 2023 National Lottery Project of the Year, beating 4,000 other projects and buildings from around the country. 

Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody was in Bangor this morning for the announcement of the major award which is the first time a project from Northern Ireland has lifted the trophy 

The former magistrates court in Bangor, the building had been derelict for many years before Open House became involved in a campaign to save and redevelop the building.  Following seven years of fundraising, lobbying, planning and refurbishment, made possible with a major grant of almost £1m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, who nominated it for this award, the new music and arts venue finally opened its doors just over a year ago. Now, as well as providing a much-needed home for the local arts community, the venue is helping to drive economic regeneration in the city.  

In its first year of business the Court House welcomed 38,000 people across its threshold, and hosted over 400 events showcasing more than 1,000 artist performances. Almost half of those events were free to attend, and 55% were led by artists and creatives from the Bangor and North Down area.  

The strength of the public vote in the National Lottery Project of the Year final is a reflection both of its success, and the affection with which it is already held. Since the start, the restoration project has had huge community support, including from Gary Lightbody, one of Bangor’s most famous sons, who presented the team with their National Lottery Award.