News and Updates

Review: Cushendun Big Arts Weekend 2019

Cushendun Big Arts Weekend 2019 has been hailed as a tremendous success. Hundreds of people attended the interesting, entertaining and varied array of activities that made up this year’s programme.

Historic talks, heritage walks, music, dance, song, art, games and performances , Big Arts Weekend 2019 really had something for everyone with venues packed to capacity, leaving a few disappointed people unable to grab a last-minute seat at the event of their choice.

Cushendun Building Preservation Trust (CBPT) had worked hard for many months to plan, book, programme, co-ordinate and raise funds to deliver such an amazing event. This is the 7th year of the Festival and it has grown in popularity and ambition each year.

Armagh Rhymers entertain the crowds

CBPT wish to thank all those that contributed to this year’s success – this includes the facilitators and performers and all those that assisted with catering, parking, ticket sales, setting up venues, supervision of activities, and supporting the event management team in so many other ways.

Tremendous support was received from the local community. A special thanks to the National Trust for their generous permission to use Glenmora House and grounds as our Festival hub. And lastly a very big thanks to the Heritage Lottery fund and Causeway Coast and Glen’s Borough Councils Festival fund, without whose support we would have been unable to host this ambitious programme.

Its time now to take a short breather before starting to plan Big Arts Weekend 2020.  The Old Church Centre will be a welcome additional venue and performance space for future festivals, as well as providing the opportunity to offer additional events and activities throughout the year. Please watch the website for details of upcoming events.

Naturally North Coast Markets

News and Updates

Thank you for visiting Cushendun’s Big Arts Weekend 2019!

Cushendun Building Preservation Trust wish to thank all those who attended the recent Cushendun Big Arts Weekend.

If you came to any of the activities over the May bank holiday weekend, we would really appreciate your feedback.

It is important for us and for our funders so that we can:

*Assess how we are doing

*Be informed about how we could enhance or improve our activities and events

*Ensure that future programming reflects participants’ interests and expectations

*Provide justification for future funding applications

*Enable us to make our arts, heritage and community events more accessible to everyone

Please complete this SHORT Questionnaire by clicking here

Entrants are in with a chance of winning a £25 M&S Voucher.

The winner of the prize will be drawn at random from the list of people who provided feedback and live-streamed on 1 June 2019.

You can complete a form for each event attended.

Good luck and thanks again!

News and Updates

Cushendun Big Arts Weekend 2019- full programme revealed

The full line-up for this year’s Big Arts Weekend has been announced.

This is the seventh year of the festival and to celebrate we have fantastic headliners including Dr Éamon Phoenix, and some familiar favourites including Share-a-Poem and the Family Funday Sunday.

This year’s John Hewitt talk ’50 years of the Corncrake’ is by Cushendun resident  Dr James Morrow. Artists should book early for the painting masterclass led by painter and experienced teacher Michael Sayers.

Back by popular demand are old favourites, The Art Exhibition, the pop-up Tea shop with scrumptious buns and cakes, and Naturally North Coast and Glens Market.

Celebrating the May Bank Holiday, the amazing Armagh Rhymers will be performing in the grounds of Glenmona House accompanied by children from St Ciaran’s and other local primary schools.

There are many early-bird discounts so visit our Big Arts Weekend page now to book your place!

News and Updates

Headliners for Big Arts Weekend revealed

The headline artists for the seventh Cushendun Big Arts Weekend, from 3 to 6 May, have been revealed.

Acclaimed political historian and broadcaster Eamon Phoenix will be discussing the theme of the War of Independence in the Glens on Sunday 5 May.

Theatre plays a huge part in the Big Arts Weekend and this year is no exception. The Armagh Rhymers, one of Ireland’s most celebrated folk theatre ensembles, will perform on May Day (Monday 6May), while community arts group Craic Theatre will delight audiences with their performance of Extra Time, a play set in a rural pub during the local football team’s semi-final victory. The Glens’ own Lurig Drama Group bring the festival to a close on Monday evening. 

Firm favourites including Share-a-Poem, Play in a Day and the Family Funday Sunday will all be returning to this year’s Big Arts Weekend, so keep an eye out for further announcements in the coming weeks.

Proceeds from ticket sales will go towards the restoration of the Old Church centre in Cushendun, a dedicated heritage, community and arts space. 

For more information and to book tickets (with many early-bird discounts), visit

News and Updates

Restoration of Cushendun Old Church underway after more than a decade

After twelve years of legal negotiations, funding applications, development plans, and even an appearance on national TV, work is finally underway to restore and convert an old church building in the County Antrim village of Cushendun.

Cushendun Old Church Centre will be an arts, heritage and community space serving people across the Glens of Antrim. The building will also be open year-round as an information and mini-heritage centre, in which visitors can learn about the area. 

The restoration has been made possible thanks to funding and support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NI), Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division (Historic Environment Fund), Ulster Garden Villages Ltd, the Pilgrim Trust and the All Churches Trust.

Built in 1842 as a Church of Ireland place of worship, Cushendun Old Church was deconsecrated in 2003 after congregation numbers dwindled.

Since then, local residents – led by dedicated volunteers in Cushendun Building Preservation Trust (CBPT) – have tirelessly campaigned for the building to become a community hub with a focus on the arts.

The Old Church project won the Northern Ireland heat in the BBC Two programme Restoration Village back in 2006 but failed at the last hurdle in the UK finals.

Since work commenced, extensive repairs have been carried out to the interior and exterior building fabric. A new extension annexed to the original building is also taking shape.  It is expected the building work will be completed during Spring 2019.

Monica Morgan, Chair of Cushendun Building Preservation Trust, said, “This is a very exciting time for us here in Cushendun and in the wider Glens. The village has a long association with the arts – painters, poets and writers have all been regular visitors here.

“After more than a decade, we are delighted that this much-needed resource for everyone in the community is now a reality. It has been a long road with countless applications, meetings and, of course, setbacks, but we never gave up hope.

“We’re now calling on interested parties who have a class or a project which would work in the space – be it craft or exercise classes, an exhibition, drama, concert or other event – to get in touch. This will be a space for everyone to enjoy, thanks to our funders, volunteers and supporters!”

For more information on the Old Church Centre, please visit


Cushendun to celebrate European Heritage Open Days

Next weekend we’ll be taking part in European Heritage Open Days, the long-running initiative which opens up to the public the doors of important, historical landmarks.

On Saturday and Sunday, Glenmona House will host a series of events and talks, with all proceeds going towards the restoration of Cushendun Old Church.

One of the highlights will be the ever-popular Book Sale, now in its 8th year, with hundreds of second-hand and vintage books up for grabs. We’ll also have our pop-up tea room on both days for visitors to enjoy tasty home-baked treats washed down with a tea or coffee.

Another highlight is a talk by conservation architect Peter Robinson of Alastair Coey Architects entitled ‘The Reuse of Historic Buildings’. He’ll discuss the importance of restoration and bringing old buildings back to life. This talk is free, but places are limited so make sure you sign up as soon as possible.

We would also encourage visitors to come along to our talk on the impact of tourism in Cushendun. This is part of the Peace IV project, “Understanding your Area”. Do you have memories of coming to Cushendun on your summer holidays? Maybe you stayed in one of the former hotels or were a regular at the caravan site? Come along with your old pictures, memorabilia, postcards and, of course, memories!

And if all that isn’t enough, as the summer draws to a close, what better way to relive the “Summer nights” than a showing of the classic movie Grease in our pop-up cinema in Glenmona! Hair gel and leather jackets permitted!

To book your place at Grease (£4) or the ‘The Reuse of Historic Buildings’ (free), please visit

EHOD Flyer


Beat the builders to the best of the books!

Cushendun Old Church Project second-hand and local-interest book sale, September 9 and 10


There could be some tough customers hustling for bargains this year at County Antrim’s favourite seaside booksale in the National Trust village of Cushendun. The builders are due to start work shortly on restoring Cushendun Old Church to turn it into a community heritage and arts centre in 2018.

For that reason, the annual Old Church Project second-hand and local-interest book sale on European Heritage weekend (Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September) will be held in elegant Glenmona House – facing Cushendun beach – rather than the Old Church itself. A wide range of quality ‘rescued’ hardback and paperback books will be on sale as well as new books of historical and local interest at competitive prices.

Volunteers from the Friends of Glenmona will be selling their splendid home-made cakes and buns with tea and coffee in the Garden Room, so if you can’t wait to get home to start reading that terrific novel you’d been looking out for, you can plonk yourself down on the terrace – or the beach – and get stuck in!

Earlier this year, Cushendun Building Preservation Trust, which is behind the Old Church Project and the book sale (as well as Cushendun’s popular Big Arts Weekend in the month of May), had the welcome news that major grants from Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund had secured the rescue of the Old Church after more than a decade of campaigning. The grants mean that this lovely 130-year-old building – which had been at risk of irreversible dereliction – has a sustainable future as a resource for the local and the wider community.

Other funders whose contributions are a welcome vote of confidence in the project are Ulster Garden Villages, the Pilgrim Trust and the All Churches Trust, but local fund-raising is still vitally important. So please come and support the book sale. And get in there before those bookworm builders!

Glenmona House will be open, and books will be on sale, from 11am to 5pm on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September. Refreshments will be on sale between 11:30  am and 3:30 pm.


Cushendun Big Arts Weekend 2017


EXCITEMENT is mounting in the lovely north-coast village of Cushendun as we prepare to launch our fifth annual Big Arts Weekend with a programme that is, yet again, lively, varied – and very ambitious! The festival organisers are delighted to have secured the participation of distinguished performers, lecturers and guides who are expert in a wide range of areas:  whether you are interested in drama, music, the visual arts, history, archaeology, gardening, poetry, language, cookery, or simply in forming a more knowledgeable acquaintance with the outdoor world and the local landscape, there is something here for you.

An hour-long walk on Saturday morning will provide an opportunity to explore the many literary associations of Cushendun’s ‘Five Big Houses’, and our continuing sense of the importance of literature is reflected in our programme.  The festival will begin on Friday night with a performance of Songs and Poetry of the Easter Rising.  On Saturday afternoon, a Creative Writing Workshop led by Medbh McGuckian, an Irish poet of international acclaim, will give an innovative twist to the popular Share a Poem session; earlier that day, Professor Frank Ferguson will speak about John Hewitt and his contribution to Ulster Scots.  Theatre events range from a stand-up comedy event on Friday night, to Donal O’Kelly’s award-winning Catalpa, to the Lurig Drama Group’s rehearsed reading of John Patrick Stanley’s play, Doubt. Children will be able to take part in a ‘Play in a Day’ drama workshop.

Music for a Spring Evening is always a highlight of the festival: this year we are thrilled to welcome the Voices Together Community Choir to St Patrick’s Church on Sunday evening.  Earlier that day, Cushendun musician Glenn Simpson will play in the Old Church, against a backdrop of sculpture by Raymond Watson and a photographic exhibition mounted by local young people.  Glenmona House will be the venue for a lecture by artist and historian Hector McDonnell on megaliths in the Glens, and for a talk by Conor McCormick entitled ‘A Year of Colour in My Garden.’

Exciting outdoor events include a two-day course on foraging in the Glens, a guided walk through Ballypatrick Forest, and our popular Dawn Chorus walk in Cregagh Wood.  There will be the usual range of outdoor family activities and, on the final afternoon of the festival, an opportunity to sample the delights of the Naturally North Coast and Glens Artisan Market.

The weekend is organised by Cushendun Building Preservation Trust (CBPT) in support of the Old Church Project.  CBPT gratefully acknowledges the Department for Communities, and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council for Community Festival Funding.  It also wishes to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Trust, the Heart of the Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme, McBride’s bar and the Cushendun community for their contribution to the festival.


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Click here to view the programme and to purchase tickets