PREPARATIONS UNDERWAY FOR SNOW PATROL

“THIS event will be very different to the previous Ward Park concerts – and it really had to happen on the seafront, in the heart of the city.” Those are the words of the team behind next week’s massive seaside Snow Patrol gig, happening in the McKee Clock Arena on Wednesday evening that’s set to bring thousands of people to Bangor.

Although organisers are doing their best to minimise any knock-on effects, they have warned that two large free seafront car parks will be shut all day, while some disruption is possible due to large crowds. They’re also advising the public not to try to get to the gig if they don’t already have tickets, as none will be available on the door while it’ll be difficult to see or hear the band from outside the venue.

Finishing the summer season of Open House Festival events, all 5,000 tickets to the acoustic show sold out within an hour of going on sale back in July. Taking place to celebrate frontman Gary Lightbody receiving the freedom of Ards and North Down, which is set to be given to him in a small private ceremony in advance of Wednesday’s gig, Open House director Kieran Gilmore says that it would have been possible to sell the venue out three times over, such is the band’s popularity – but the team wanted a more intimate affair.

It’s set to bring huge crowds to the seafront, though the festival team have advised people not to expect a repeat of the band’s three massive Ward Park events over the past 15 years. In particular organisers warn that tickets will not be available at the gate, and it’ll be difficult for anyone to see or listen to the concert from outside the venue. “Only people with tickets should travel to attend the gig as you won’t get inside without one, and you won’t see anything from outside either,” said Kieran. “We’d also like to warn people about counterfeit tickets that are circling and urge folk not to purchase tickets from a third party unless they are a very trusted source.”

Doors for the event open at 5pm, with the first support act – Bangor band the Florentinas – on at 6pm, followed by Lucy Gaffney and David C Clements before Snow Patrol take the stage around 8.30pm. Currently there are no plans to close off roads outside the venue, though the PSNI will be on hand and could decide to shut streets if the seafront becomes too busy. Gig-goers are being urged to walk to the event if possible or take public transport, with Translink putting on a late express train to Holywood and Belfast that leaves Bangor station at 11pm.

Car parks on Queen’s Parade and Quay Street will be shut for the entire day, except for blue badge holders attending the concert who must preapply for a pass to use the facilities. General parking will be available on Dufferin Avenue, and at the Flagship Centre and Bangor Aurora Leisure Centre. Says Kieran: “We want everyone attending the event to have a great evening, but we want them to do it safely while respecting the local area, including residents and businesses. “We’ve been working closely with everyone involved to make that happen, including Ards and North Down Council, the local PSNI, Translink and of course Snow Patrol too, so we’re confident that ticket holders and the general public will play their part.”

Ards and North Down mayor Karen Douglas, who originally nominated Gary Lightbody for the freedom of the borough award, said that the entire area will be delighted to recognise his status as a musician of international standing, a philanthropist, and a champion of local charitable causes. “His humanitarian spirit and his desire to give back continue to have such a significant impact on others,” she said. “The endless generosity with his time and the support he gives to so many causes and otherwise marginalised groups is truly deserving of this highest honour.” Full details of timings and admission requirements for next week’s gig can be found at www.openhousefestival .com/snow-patrol