Ards International Guitar Festival is 25! Although we are unable to celebrate the 25th anniversary in person this year we will be bringing you some highlights from over the years on our Facebook page and this website from 22 - 25 April, so keep your eyes peeled as we virtually celebrate 25 years of the Festival!

Ards Guitar Festival Celebrates 25 Years Film

As we are unable to celebrate 25 years of Ards Guitar Festival in person this year, we have marked the occasion with a short film presented by Ralph McLean.

In the film Ralph chats to some past performers and friends of the Festival as they reflect on their time performing with us over the years.

Featuring interviews and music from Grainne Duffy, Gary Lutton, Paddy Anderson and Paul Sherry. Filmed at Windmill Guitars by Dillon Osbourne.

Birthday Wishes from Festival Friends

Some of the past performers and audience favourites of Ards Guitar Festival have recorded a special 25th Birthday message for the Festival!

A huge thank you to the following artists for taking the time to send on their well wishes and reflecting on the Festival, we look forward to welcoming you all back again in the future!

Featuring: Frank Vignola, Pierre Bensusan, Dea Matrona, Shane Hennessy, Sarah, McQuaid, Jon Gomm, Tommy Loose, Ariel Posen, The 4 of Us and Craig Ogden.

The Lifetime Achievement Award

Every year during Ards International Guitar Festival, one artist will be awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their work with the guitar. The very first award was presented in 1999.

The recipients to date are:

  • 1999 - Norman Watson
  • 2000 - Davey Graham
  • 2001 - Henry McCullough
  • 2002 - John Renbourn
  • 2003 - Louis Stewart
  • 2004 - John Martyn
  • 2005 - Arty McGlynn
  • 2006 - Martin Simpson
  • 2007 - Eric Bell
  • 2008 - Gordon Giltrap
  • 2009 - Pat McManus
  • 2010 - Gerry Donahue
  • 2011 - Carlos Bonell
  • 2012 - Martin Taylor
  • 2013 - Preston Reed
  • 2014 - Pierre Bensusan
  • 2016 - Martin Carthy
  • 2017 - Sarah McQuaid
  • 2018 - The 4 Of Us
  • 2019 - Simon McBride

In 2018, Paul McMordie was presented with a special 'Outstanding Contribution to Local Music' Award for his commitment to Ards International Guitar Festival over its (then) 21 years, plus his contribution to music throughout his career!

Guitar Festival Throwback!

As we virtually celebrate 25 years of Ards International Guitar Festival, here is a look back at just some of the fantastic acts that have graced our stage over the years. Although we are unable to show photos of everyone who has ever performed for us, we hope this will give you a flavour of the Festival.

Many thanks to everyone involved behind the scenes to bring you the Festival each year and our wonderful audience and artists for your continued support.

Here's to another 25 years of great guitar music!

Dates and times
Thu 22 April - Tue 31 August 2021, All day
This is a virtual exhibition